According to a 2017 report carried out by the PRODEM (Programme for Entrepreneurial Development), Colombia was found to have the highest numbers of human entrepreneur capital in Latin America.
Those aged between 14 and 28 years represent the largest age bracket in Colombia’s workforce, and it is often this portion of the population who are among the country’s leading entrepreneurs heading up its flourishing startup scene.
Thanks to government grants such as ‘Fondo Emprender’, offered by Colombia’s National Learning Service (SENA), it is becoming increasingly feasible for students to fund their own business ventures alongside their studies. This year’s grant, for example, has a budget of $30 billion COP for gifting funds to recent graduates or students nearing the end of their degrees, among other categories.
Santa Marta-born Marco Muñoz is one of the many young entrepreneurs hoping his business plan might one day be eligible to compete for this funding.
Having grown tired of large-scale fashion production, aged 18, graphic design student Muñoz came up with his own way to avoid coming across people wearing the same clothes. This urge to break free from the mass market led him to set up Anthias Beachwear, a swimwear brand for both men and women.
“Anthias was born out of the idea to break free from monotony,” said founder and CEO Muñoz, speaking to LatAm Tech. “Our aim is to inject colour into our customers’ lives and for them to be able to enjoy our clothes with comfort and pride,” he added.
As a startup, Anthias aims to stand out from the rest, offering a different theme with each swimwear collection and allowing the brand to focus on managing trends, whilst at the same time providing exclusive designs for their customers.
“Anthias is unique because we always want to give our customers the option to enjoy and explore their own styles, allowing them to personalise their clothes,” commented Muñoz, echoing the brand’s tagline.
Colombia, in fact, is no stranger to the success stories of student-led swimwear ventures. In 2003, fashion design students Catalina Alvarez and Mariana Hinestroza set up luxury Colombian swimwear brand Agua Bendita, which now exports to 60 countries.
When asked how he rose to the challenge of setting up his own business aged 18, alongside his studies, Muñoz responded, “Doing everything so young, I think that has been one of the biggest advantages. It has helped me to grow as a person, as a professional and as an entrepreneur. Bit by bit your knowledge grows which, hand in hand with experience, generates results and investments…I have managed to learn about new fields that aren’t linked to my degree, and these sorts of lessons at my age are really useful.”
Speaking to the BBC, Agua Bendita co-founder Alvarez outlined her company’s goal to become the market leaders in each of the countries they sell in. “E-commerce is very important to this idea because I think it has no barriers, it has no limits,” she said, explaining how her company tackles its international sales strategy.
Instead of e-commerce, Anthias founder Muñoz has developed his own solution to the challenge of international distribution. His company’s sales are managed entirely through social media, mainly Instagram and Facebook, as well as word of mouth.
“A company that works entirely through social media, I think this is a fast approaching future,” said Muñoz. “As entrepreneurs, social media makes it a lot easier to show the world new products, so that customers can enjoy a wider variety. However, it is a field that is still very fertile and will continue to advance with time and in line with the tech advances that society generates.”
With a view to the years ahead, co-founder Muñoz claims that he intends to spread the Anthias word both nationally and internationally, continuing to give his customers “ the opportunity to experience sunny days with lots of colour, confidence and fashion.”