Entrepreneurial Growth and Digital Transformation in the Americas

Panelists discuss strategies for leveraging digital transformation to grow entrepreneurial ventures and small businesses in the Americas.


Air Date: June 9, 2022

Moderator: Gaby Frias, Anchor, CNN en Español

Featured Guests: Fátima Álvarez, Founder, Someone Somewhere, Tareq Hadhad, Founder, Peace by Chocolate, Deana Neely, Founder, Detroit Voltage, Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google

Technological advancements have made a huge impact on the lives of countless entrepreneurs. Thanks to digital transformation, these businesses have built the resilience they need to overcome challenges and succeed in a challenging world. However, more support can be given to entrepreneurs, especially across the Americas.

On Day 2 of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Department of State’s 2022 IV CEO Summit of the Americas, Gaby Frias of CNN en Español moderated a panel about turbo-charging growth through digital transformation. Panelists Fátima Álvarez, Founder of Someone Somewhere, Tareq Hadhad, Founder of Peace by Chocolate, Deana Neely, Founder of Detroit Voltage, and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, discussed strategies for leveraging digital transformation to enable entrepreneurship and small business growth.

Technology Access Brings Opportunities to Rural Communities

Someone Somewhere brings handcrafted indigenous products into the global markets. Founder Fátima Álvarez explained how shifting her business from a physical store into a digital storefront during the pandemic empowered artisans living in rural areas in Mexico.

“Thanks to products like Google Ads, we have been able to show and promote our products and the artisan’s products,” explained Álvarez. “And now people from all over the world, maybe someone in Paris, is going to be able to discover and buy products from Lucero, who is an artisan in the Oaxaca region.”

Álvarez continued that using technology within rural communities has provided more opportunities for financial independence and made changes at a local level.

“It’s crucial because now [artisans] can make long-term investments; they can invest in infrastructure, in their houses, in education, [and] can also plan in the long-term,” Álvarez said. “They are also being more recognized in their communities … [and are able to] raise their voices and … ask for new things on a political scale, as well.”

Accessible Technology Is a Factor in Creating Sustainable Businesses

Google’s Sundar Pichai explained that the “digital economy doesn’t know borders,” which brings even more opportunities to communities and businesses. However, Pichai made it clear that technological opportunity doesn’t solve all problems.

“I think what we can do is to make sure more people have access to it,” said Pichai. “With the right policies and public-private partnerships, you can catalyze an economy, and that’s what digital transformation is about.”

Entrepreneur Tareq Hadhad added how technology had leveled the playing field for small businesses to compete with larger businesses.

“We realized that big companies have enough advantages already,” said Hadhad. “So small businesses needed to leverage that, to tell their own stories. Technology has eliminated the middle man … [and enable us] to tell our own stories and be our own marketers and ambassadors for our own companies.”

Upskilling Technology and Citizens Will Bring Business Growth

Pichai stated while he has heard many stories of how technology has changed business owners’ lives during the pandemic, he stressed that “not everyone can do it on their own.”

“I think we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of skilling over time when we have to figure out how to scale all of this up,” explained Pichai. “I think governments have an important role to play through their community colleges or whatever tools they have to try and take all [these skills] to as many businesses and people as possible.”

“We can tangibly see the difference when people can take advantage of digital tools, not just from Google, but from other companies as well,” he added.