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I had a great experience visiting WAKI Labs for a day in Arica. They are focused on desert tech given the... Show More
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With a history dating back at least 10,000 years, Arica is a port city in northern Chile with a population of about 222,619 residents sipping coffee in cafes, meandering its streets or hanging out in coworking venues getting creative. A surfing mecca, where the surfboards probably outnumber its people, the city sits in northern Chile only 18km south of the border with Peru. It serves as a free port for Bolivia and manages a substantial portion of that country's trade. It's the end of the Bolivian oil pipeline and the beginning in Oruro with a strategic location that is enhanced by the fact that it sits next to the Pan-American Highway. Known as the "city of the eternal spring" because of its mild weather, it's the capital of both the Arica Province and the Arica and Parinacota Region. If you don't want to get the body wet in the ocean, you can always head to the wild high plains of the Andes Mountains that are home to the Lauca National Park and the Chungará Lake.

Arica may not be a tech hub per se, but it does have its fair share of entrepreneurs hustling around the town, hiking its mountains or conquering its waves. The Chile government has created some amazing opportunities for tech startups to launch and grow with one such inducement being the introduction of a new tech visa allowing entrepreneurs, tech gurus and investors to acquire a visa in only 15 days. The government has backed the "Start-Up Chile" program offering equity-free grants up to US$40,000 that is attracting techies and startups from all over the world. There are plenty of mentoring workshops and access to investors as well as one-year visas to entrepreneurs who wish to continue developing their startups in Chile. With this leading global accelerator program, it's creating the foundation for a growing culture of entrepreneurship.

Chile is ranked 5th in the world for tertiary enrolment and 14th for the number of companies created each year. It has some of the best universities in South America that is spawning a generation of tech savvy and hungry youth that are on the entrepreneurial ladder to success. Coworking venues have become the space where they flock to forming communities of innovative minds.

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