“YLAI Has Changed My Entrepreneurial Life” by Michelle Guimarães, YLAI Alumna from Brazil

YLAI Charlotte City Hub Fellows


Michelle Guimarães is the founder and CEO of Visit Manaus. She is one of 248 fellows who participated in the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI), a professional fellows program that empowers entrepreneurs and innovative civil society leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean. YLAI focuses on strengthening their capacity to launch and advance their entrepreneurial ideas and effectively contribute to social and economic development in their communities.

ylai blog 1

YLAI has changed my entrepreneurial life! It has opened a lot of opportunities for me. Although I’m still looking for funds to develop the project that I presented in my application, Visit Manaus, I can truly assert that my company , Fora da Caixa – Business Excellence Management Consulting, and I are at a higher level now.


At the beginning of my YLAI journey, the local press had extensive coverage of my trip to the US, and because of that, in December, I was awarded with the Medal of the Order of Legislative Merit, in the House of Representatives of Brazil. It is given to politicians and professionals who have excelled in society during the past year. I was invited to give speeches at several entrepreneurship events to talk about my experience with YLAI and also to be a mentor for startups and at pitch competitions.


As I said before, I run a business excellence management consulting. If I compare our profit from January 2017 with that of January 2016, it has increased by more than 200%. This achievement is due to  the fact that I brought several ideas for process improvements to our clients, increasing the added value of our services. I believe the knowledge I gained at my fellowship placement, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, and YLAI workshops has enabled me to offer the best business consulting in the local market.


The governor of my state invited me to a meeting where I presented my professional background and what I did during YLAI. He asked me to develop a project that would help young people who want to start a business. We are modeling the idea for 2017 and 2018.


Since I am also a parliamentBrazilian YLAI Fellows at the Openingary adviser on the city council and electoral campaigns coordinator, I was selected to be part of the most important political network group in the country, RAPS (Political Network for Sustainability). Every year they choose prominent people for political and public management training. This year, I will participate along with deputies, mayors, and governors from all over the country. I accepted the challenge because I intend to pursue a political career.


Finally, I was invited to teach at one of the largest business schools in the country, Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV). I will give entrepreneurship, marketing, and negotiation classes for graduate students. They think that is very important to share with them information about my experience abroad.


I am very grateful for all that YLAI has given me. I often say that I am a new professional since I have completed the program. I thank all those who supported me during my stay in America, especially at my fellowship placement. I was very lucky to be with such generous people that were committed to teaching me everything I needed in order to improve myself as an entrepreneur. My peers were also incredible! We still keep in touch to help each other.


If I could sum up YLAI in one sentence, it would certainly be the one we heard when we arrived in Dallas: “Don’t wait for the change, create it”. Everything has changed for me… for the better!