Puerto Rico – Day 2: Mariangie & Silvina
“I was raised by wolves,” says Mariangie Rosas. “My mother passed when I was young so I grew up with my father and three older brothers.”
After high school, like many Puerto Ricans she knew, Mariangie headed north to pursue her education. She went to Cornell, earning a degree in architecture, then worked in New York City for seven years. But the pull of home led her back to the island, and starting a business was part of the plan. co.co.haus was born as a co-working space, fostering a shared work community for San Juan’s bustling entrepreneurship scene.
“We have a bad economy and a real brain drain in Puerto Rico,” says Mariangie. “I created co.co.haus to allow Puerto Ricans to stay here and pursue their dreams.”
When Hurricane Maria hit in 2017, co.co.haus was housed in one of just a few buildings with an Internet connection. Mariangie was inundated with demand – and in keeping with the spirit of the community she created – she didn’t charge people who desperately needed service to communicate with loved ones.
“We have so much potential to help each other,” she says.
We talked with Mariangie and her mentor, Silvina Moschini, CEO of SheWorks!, about her experience so far with the Global Ambassadors Program.
What challenge are you working on this week?
The main challenge I was working on before coming here was trying to secure funding for a bigger co-working space that I want to open. We started with a very small 2,000 square feet office space and we couldn’t expand. So two doors down, we opened a second space but they’re disconnected – so people have to go through a hallway to move between the space. So I want to do a 8,000 square feet space as a “phase one” and potentially extend to 14,000, which would be the entire half of the building. But after spending the few days with Silvinia I’m not thinking of just that one space but what comes after that – and potentially bringing the brand to a more international scale. So now I have more than one problem that I want to figure out.
What were your first impressions on meeting Mariangie and learning about her business?
The women here are all amazing and I didn’t expect to be paired with such a strong leader and talented entrepreneur. She’s highly qualified with tons of creativity – she has everything she needs to be successful. I’m super honored to have this opportunity to work with her to help her leverage her potential, think bigger and reach higher. She can do anything she wants to do with her life, with her project now, and with many more projects to come in the future – because she has what it takes.
Was there a training session that you found particularly useful?
We’ve been open for two years and we haven’t done a strategic plan. It got me thinking that as soon as I get back it’s the first thing I want to do. I knew that we were struggling in certain things but I just kept thinking it would figure itself out, or when we have time, like after I finish doing this one thing I can focus on the other thing. I realized that it all needs to be balanced – doing little things in all different aspects of the company is equally important. So that’s the priority – to do little things in all aspects so it’s all balanced out. That’s what I want to focus on right after this before even securing that funding because I realize we’re still lacking certain things to make sure the proposal is polished and balanced.
I’m super inspired by this strong group of women who are passionate about helping each other. It’s something I consider to be priceless and it reinforces my commitment to giving back. I’m learning a lot not only from the trainers – who are super high caliber, world class trainers – but also from the impact the training is having on my peers, the other Global Ambassadors and the mentees. It’s so valuable. It’s a huge effort as entrepreneurs and I’m seriously struggling to keep up with the emails and the urgencies, but it’s absolutely heartwarming to have the opportunity to be here.
Stay connected to #GlobalAmbassadors this week:
Watch the program’s YouTube playlist.
Photography: David Hume Kennerly
Silvina Moschini (left) and Mariangie Rosas (right)