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Author's profile photo Alejandro Barajas

Co-Innovate with SAP: Bridging the Digital Divide with Latino Startups

Critical to any workplace environment is diversity, which lends perspective, varied experience, and people of varied backgrounds to come together to define the best outcomes and deliver optimal solutions.  As a team, the SAP Startup Focus Program has made diversity a commitment, both internally and within the startup founder population.  Part of this commitment is articulated in the following article written by Startup Focus partner, Alejandro Barajas, Co-Lead for Latinos@SAP.  The mission of the group, says Barajas, is to bring the Latino population into the SAP workforce, and by extension, into the startup cohort accepted into the program.


Latinos@SAP is an employee network that provides Latinos and friends the opportunity to connect, share experiences and expertise, and promote professional development via an online community and onsite events to promote cultural awareness and support diversity efforts at SAP.

Overall, the employee network’s strategic goal would be to recruit young Latino talent and retain them through professional mentorship to ensure broader visibility within SAP.  Ultimately, this culminated into a strategic initiative to ensure SAP becomes the employer of choice for Latinos, so there is broader representation by recruiting locally at university career fairs with HR, professional development and mentorship, job shadowing, and forming strategic partnerships with non-profit organizations and other employee networks within the Silicon Valley.

Strategic Partnership: Latinos@SAP and SAP Startup Focus Program

According to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Latinos are the fastest growing segment in America with 3.2 million enterprises, which contribute $486 billion to the economy each year.  To broaden SAP’s visibility within the Latino community, the SAP Startup Focus Program and Latinos@SAP partnered to market SAP as the go-to-partner for Latino startups.  With sponsorship from SAP’s Global Diversity and Inclusion Office (GDIO), the idea would be for these startups to co-innovate with SAP by leveraging the SAP HANA Platform to build, integrate, and certify applications based on their unique industry-specific expertise.  This would offer SAP customers a broad and diverse selection of certified applications provided by Latino startups.

To accelerate awareness and platform adoption, two strategic locations: Palo Alto, California and Newtown Square, Philadelphia with local SAP offices were selected to ensure local resources were available to support this strategic initiative.  At these locations, two to four meetups would be organized during 2015 with topics centered on co-innovation with SAP.  Partnering with regional employee networks and Latino startup incubators would help to create mindshare and accelerate awareness of this initiative to ensure attendance by Latino startups.

Once in the SAP Startup Focus Program, Latino entrepreneurs would have access to training and technical resources to learn SAP HANA and build applications before submitting them for certification to ensure technical compatibility within the SAP HANA database.  To go-to-market with SAP, Latino startups would have access to marketing resources and sales enablement to ensure its market-ready solutions are successful with prospects and customers, which includes more than 250,000 global SAP customers and the potential to attract new customers from emerging market segments.

SAP Startup Focus Program: Creating a Home for Latino Startups

In order for SAP’s Latino Entrepreneurship Program to be successful – a joint partnership between Latinos@SAP and the SAP Startup Focus Program – Latino startups need to feel comfortable not only with having access to training and technical resources, but having a sense of belonging with an established brand and market leader, who can ensure its success by providing access to the right people, right resources, and right opportunities, which culminate into SAP.  Manju Bansal, Vice President for SAP Startup Focus Program, stated, “Collaborating with Latinos@SAP ensures Latino entrepreneurs see SAP as a brand they can trust and co-innovate with to bring the next generation of HANA-based applications into the market.”  He further elaborated, “Establishing a sense of community within the Latino community is essential to gain their trust in order to increase Latino startup participation within the SAP Startup Focus Program.”

For Latinos@SAP, it is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate how an employee network can partner with a business unit within SAP to establish go-to-market efforts to bring broader visibility to an untapped market to drive potential business opportunities in the near future.  Alejandro Barajas, Co-Lead for Latinos@SAP, stated “Forming a strategic alliance with the SAP Startup Focus Program was essential to demonstrate how diversity can drive innovation at SAP to ultimately tap into an emerging business market segment – Latino entrepreneurs – to build innovative and market-ready applications on SAP HANA, which create business opportunities for SAP and offers a diverse breed of applications for prospects and SAP customers.”  Ultimately, the goal of this joint venture would be to bring twenty to twenty-five Latino startups into the SAP Startup Focus Program to build and certify applications on SAP HANA with the potential to present them at SAPPHIRE NOW and SAP TechEd conferences to maximize market exposure with SAP customers and prospects.

For more information on SAP’s Latino Entrepreneurship Program, please contact Alejandro Barajas and Luis Colmenares.

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Great blog, Alejandro!