After Storm, New Project Puts Puerto Rico Businesses Front and Center

The new Shop + Hire PR initiative, launched with nonprofit support, is intended to assist local businesses after Hurricane Maria by promoting their products to people who live outside of the island territory.

With Puerto Rico’s economy still recovering from the tragedy of Hurricane Maria, there are some big concerns about what that means for the many small businesses on the island territory.

But a new campaign launched this week could prove a difference-maker in the coming months. Shop + Hire PR, a site launched by a group of Puerto Rican industry and economic groups, hopes to rekindle interest in suppliers and local companies on the island.

The concept, launched by the nonprofit Colmena66 with the help of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust, is intended to make it easier to connect shoppers with the territory’s small businesses.

Denisse Rodríguez of Colmena66 noted to NBC News that the idea actually came from the Puerto Rican diaspora who had left the island and was looking for ways to help locals—including by buying products from them.

“They actually asked how can we shop local entrepreneurs online,” Rodríguez told the news outlet, which led to the site’s creation.

The project, which also counts supporters like the P18 startup accelerator and the Puerto Rico Creative Economy Initiative, comes just in time for holiday shopping—but also just in time to help small businesses struggling after more than two months of uncertainty caused by the storm.

According to an estimate reported by Public Radio International, more than 5,000 small and medium businesses will stop operating in the territory due to the infrastructure challenges created by the storm.

The initiative covers a wide array of retailers, from beard grooming tools, to crackers, to handbags, to coffee. Many of the companies on the site were organized by Brands of Puerto Rico, a company founded in 2014 that promotes local products.

“Puerto Ricans have always been characterized by their talent, creativity, and hard-working culture,” Colmena66’s Rodríguez added in comments to Bustle this week. “Let’s give Puerto Rico the opportunity to show the world what we are made of.”

(Shop + Hire PR screenshot)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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