Meet GES Delegate: Analaura Antúnez Latorre
Twitter handle: @adeanitz
Country of Origin: Uruguay
Organization Name: ZHÚ · Innovación en bambú
Organization Website: www.zhu.uy
Brief Description of Organization: ZHÚ · Innovación en bambú, is an enterprise that works for sustainable development of bamboo in Uruguay. Through innovation in processes and applications, with social and environmental focus, it seeks to advance on research and development for different uses of this material, not only on species already available in our country but also with others introduced.
What inspired you to start this organization? In Uruguay, there is much bamboo available which is not being exploited and it´s still seen by many as a “plague”. There is a lack of awareness, that what is known at a national level as cane or tacuara cane are actually different species of naturalized and planted bamboo. ZHÚ is a platform that promotes knowledge and transformation and materialization of the bamboo resource in Uruguay. We believe that consulting, assessing and spreading activities, and constant updating through events, as well as projects articulated between the academic and the corporate sector are key and transversal to all areas in promoting bamboo.
What is the next big step you hope to help your organization reach? Today ZHÚ is a key player in relation to bamboo in Uruguay and to consolidate is important to create a physical space national reference tied to bamboo to concentrate different professionals from different sectors who want to make a substantive change in society and believe in other production systems that do not require large energy consumption and therefore less polluting the environment being more profitable also for small farms, helping local micro-economies. We have a major challenge as we talk about innovation, society and the environment, issues that today are vital to society and through the bamboo can generate a significant contribution for this cause.
What has been your biggest obstacle as an entrepreneur? The biggest obstacle as an entrepreneur has been to hold confidence in myself and what I believe from the gut. It is very important to rely and listen to those around you, but it is essential to listen to oneself and then proceed accordingly. Working alone was difficult but during that time I met myself and empower me; today with my partners -Gabriel and José- we form a dream team. When things are done from the heart and I’m mentally clear where to go, the right people and resources appear to make things happen.
In addition, developing a venture with bamboo in a country which is considered “plague”, is a challenge. Being an innovative entrepreneur involves a lot of extra-perseverance.
What advice would you give other emerging entrepreneurs? Entrepreneurship is not easy, and means to be willing to have a place in the world, crossing the barrier of the comfort zone. It’s important to be passionate, persistent, curious and proactive. The most important thing is to know what we want, where we want to go, have certainties and objectives. We must dare to say “no” when we feel something goes out from our focus, and confident that the correct opportunities will manifest.
On a personal level, this could be compared as when I play hockey: enter the field, have fun, do what I love and play, the rest comes… It’s all about enjoying the journey!