Described as one of the most innovative young women in Peru by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Checa is co-founder and CEO of Laboratoria, a social enterprise that is transforming the technology industry in Latin America, giving thousands of women the tools to start a career in the sector. With training centres in Peru, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, and soon more countries in the region, Laboratoria is redefining how to prepare young people for the jobs of the future.
Checha has also been called one of the most influential women in the world by the BBC, President Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg. Laboratoria is a social enterprise founded by Mariana Costa Checa ‘13, Rodolfo Prieto ’13 and Herman Marin that strives to give Latin American women from low-income backgrounds access to careers in technology.
In three years, Laboratoria has had over 800 graduates who go on to have three times the average income than they did at their previous employment. Millions of young Latin American women cannot afford higher education, and therefore cannot use their talents in the workforce and obtain jobs that match their skill level and intelligence at the highest level. Laboratoria’s 6-month boot camp helps students gain technical and team skills needed to work as front-end developers or designers locally and abroad for over 200 hiring companies. These women not only are transforming their own lives but are transforming the tech industry, which has been dominated by men.
MARIANA’S ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY
Mariana grew up in Peru and studied abroad, always wanting to help her country reach more equality of opportunity and bring more women and more diversity to the tech sector. Mariana started a software company and knew she needed diverse talent, and was inspired to found Laboratoria when her need to help women and Peru could be applied to her other passions.
RUNNING A HIGH IMPACT BUSINESS
Mariana measures the impact of Laboratoria by the placement rates and incomes of graduates of the program. Currently, Laboratoria has over 1000 graduates and 80% placement rate of students in jobs that are triple their previous income, which enables them to dramatically improve their socioeconomic status. The hardest things Mariana experienced in starting Laboratoria were the responsibility on her shoulders, the difficulty of finding a good business model and fundraising to sustain the quality of that model. Mariana says that despite the struggle, she is motivated by the contribution she has made to the world and that all the work has been worth it.
ADVICE TO ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS
There is no greater job than one in which you are constantly learning and entrepreneurship is the best job for people who love to learn. I think the qualities I think are critical to being an entrepreneur include the ability to inspire others, the ability to relate to all types of customers — at both the highest and lowest level — and having sharp attention to detail while at the same time understanding the big picture.