Magazine menu

Sun, Jun

Liderazgo por Bogotá, a Fractal of Social Innovation and Conscious Leadership that is Learning to Foster Smart Networks

Disruptive Innovations


The social innovation, covered in this article, is a non-academic educational program called Beca (Scholarship) Liderazgo por Bogotá (LxB). The scholarship is awarded to people who have demonstrated entrepreneurial capacity and passion for the progress of Bogotá. They come from a wide range of public, private, and nonprofit organizations. After a rigorous selection process, the participants take part in a training and assessment program for a year, in weekly sessions, divided between three cross-cutting tracks: Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and City. Much of the participants' energy is concentrated on group projects of a social entrepreneurship nature. The most solid projects continue to be part of the program for a few more months, after the end of the session, to help achieve sustainability. The work on the three tracks of the scholarship are as follows:

  • The City Track accompanies the group of participants to create a shared vision of Bogotá. This is the compass that guides and organizes the entrepreneurship projects developed by the teams. The City track also promotes a thorough and deep understanding of the issues of Bogotá, relying on academics and expert practitioners.
  • The Entrepreneurship Track provides tools and support to develop prototypes, plans, processes, and result indicators for the team projects designed to participate in the program in the City. In addition, this track guides the participants to create teams and define a topic to take action. This track is led by carefully selected mentors.
  • The Leadership Track is at the heart of the program, because the type of social venture we want to encourage requires a conscious exercise of leadership, i.e. the ability to distinguish when to rely on formal authority,  a "heroic” style that achieves obedience, or when a "more human" style that achieves empowerment and co-responsibility is needed. This track trains participants in conscious leadership and more intensely in the tools and skills for human leadership1. This track is complemented by coaching sessions.

 The above description is the 4.0 version of the program. The program has evolved through trial and error since 2012. But at a deeper and simpler level, the scholarship has been, and aims to be, a vehicle for connecting disjointed players, and transforming them into networks and systems that promote leadership, innovation, and public entrepreneurship for the advancement of Bogotá. 

In other words, the central thesis of this article has three parts. The first one is that the scholarship has been a "fractal" of network building. The second one is that not all the networks created are "smart networks" and if LxB really wants to make a difference for Bogotá, it should become a "fractal of smart network building." The third part is that a good way to ignite movement in that direction, is to reflect upon the networks created so far.

To explain and develop the central thesis, this article is structured as follows: We begin by clarifying the concepts in quotation marks above, and explain how they describe the present and desired future of LxB. After that, we present some testimonies of the ventures generated under the program, which reveal more and less successful experiences of smart network building. Finally, we close with some reflections and questions, which can be more rigorously researched in the future, about what is needed to transform LxB into a real smart network that creates endless smart networks.

LxB: A Network Building Fractal, Some of Which Are Smart

A fractal2 is a complex mathematical pattern, composed of irregular but simple geometric forms, which are replicated at different scales. The term was coined by Benoit B. Mandelbrot in 1975 and comes from the Latin, fractus, which means irregular, fractured. “If we look at two photographs of a fractal object with different scales (one in meters and another in millimeters, for example), with nothing to serve as a reference to see the size, it would be difficult to say which of the two is greater or if they are different.”3 Fractals have to do with the mathematics of chaos: It is difficult to find a perfect equilateral triangle in nature, but many things that might seem chaotic at first glance actually have a sort of self-contained order. A perfect example to explain the system for our purposes is broccoli: no matter the size of the piece that one cuts, it would be identical to any other piece, larger or smaller, only the scale varies.

The concept of "Smart Network" was borrowed from Ashoka4. Ashoka has enormous experience supporting social entrepreneurs who have the potential to bring about systemic changes. That is, to generate real progress and lasting social transformations. During a recent conversation with Maria Zapata,5 Co-Chair of the Ashoka Globalizer Program, focused on helping social entrepreneurs to scale their ideas, she mentioned the concept of smart networks as follows:

“Ashoka sees three very different paradigms of partnership building in social organizations. One is the solitary player -- the organization that works alone, doing its job but without connections of any kind. It is rare, but exists and clearly is not the most effective way to have impact. The second is the one-on-one partnership -- this is the most common form of partnership -- I need something and 'x' can give it to me, in exchange for something. The mindset here is to find and drive mutually beneficial partnerships. All of these partnerships allow you to be more efficient, get the funds you need, and solve your bottlenecks, but in our experience they do not have what it takes to bring about a systemic change. The third paradigm of partnerships, that in our experience is the best to make an impact, is smart networks. These include:  

a)   A shared vision, and not the entrepreneur or his/her organization, is at its core -- the systemic change to be achieved is shared by several organizations. The role of the entrepreneur is often to convince them, to bring them together, to encourage make them see that they all work towards the same goal...

b)   The social entrepreneur or organization becomes another one among multiple players. This requires humility to recognize that everyone plays a role just as important as yours.

c)   The connections are not only between the entrepreneur and each player. They are from all towards all. When this is achieved, the network is greatly strengthened and it is important that it be achieved because long-term success depends on it."6

Let's now analyze our hypothesis regarding LxB, mentioned in the introduction above. When we say that LxB is a fractal of network building, we argue that whenever any part of the program is analyzed, we find a process of connecting disjointed players and turning them into a network to bring about progress for a given challenge. That is, however one looks into the program, one sees efforts to create partnerships. But not all these partnerships are smart networks that meet the three conditions described above. We do not see the purpose at the center of all LxB networks. Not in all cases, the individuals or groups that exercise leadership are playing a role of energizing peers to work together. Connections do not always take place between all the players. LxB has managed to create some smart networks. But if it really wants to transform Bogotá, it needs to learn from its experience and work, proactively, to become a true fractal of smart networks. To help LxB move forward in this direction, it is important to reflect and ask questions about the networks built so far. We will not present here the results of a rigorous study on the elements that promote smart networks, but in the spirit of learning, and to start a relevant discussion, we briefly present some network building pieces of LxB.

Let us start with a network that has become increasingly smarter: the network that designs, finances, delivers, and coordinates the scholarship. The escalating smartness of this network has happened in three arenas, in the intervention design, in the search of strategic partners to finance the program, and in the design of the mechanism to select participants. 

Intervention Design

The design of LxB began in 2012, out of a partnership between Fundación Liderazgo y Democracia7 and Escuela de Gobierno Alberto Lleras Camargo,8 which had the purpose of endowing Bogotá with leadership skills and creative solutions to its problems. That first network had three people who could contribute contacts and relevant knowledge. The basic structure designed for the intervention was a year of sessions divided into three tracks: experts, project, and leadership. An invitation to coordinate the experts’ track was extended to an activist from Bogotá and a professor of qualitative methods who was very interested in the ethics of care and was invited to coordinate the project track. The leadership track remained under my responsibility due to my academic background. Coaching sessions for the participants of the first cohort were given by a freelance coach and myself. This proved unsustainable in terms of time and resources. The search for efficiency lead to a strategic partnership with a Colombian coaches training school.9 The coaching experience in the first cohort also generated an important network node: the freelance coach, who also happened to be a community activist,10 fell in love with the purpose of LxB, and put his network at its service. Nowadays, he works as the administrative coordinator of the program.

To improve the intervention, three professors from the School of Government of the Los Andes University were in charge of the three tracks for the second and third cohorts, and an effort was made to coordinate the tracks better. Furthermore, more entrepreneurship and design thinking tools for the projects were added and we engaged our invited experts as mentors to make them part of the program network. 

For the 4.0 version we renamed two of the tracks to “City and Entrepreneurship” from “Experts and Project.” To coordinate them we brought in two allies, the Entrepreneurship Center from Los Andes University11 (Centro de Emprendimiento) and to the former Director of “Bogotá Cómo Vamos,”12 the main citizen observatory in Bogota (currently Project Manager at a large nonprofit organization13). We also added to this team the Director of Corposeptima,14 a corporation dedicated to improving the conditions of the areas around the 7a Avenue in Bogota. 

The intervention has been analyzed and re-designed for each cohort. In general, we have gravitated towards seeking professionalization, sustainability, and better articulation and expansion of the network of partners who are co-responsible for the purpose of LxB.

Search for Funding Partners

The scholarship was established with funds from two foundations,15 which have remained as strategic partners to this day. One of them, which was deeply involved in the design of the program, has been pushing for an active search of further strategic partners to validate the relevance of the program and insure it’s neutrality and sustainability. Because of this, since the second cohort, other strategic partners have been included.16 Other strategic partners came on board at the second cohort. Additionally, since the beginning, a good part of the program is financed by the Universidad de los Andes, which provides rooms and equipment and by undercompensated experts, coordinators, mentors and coaches. The original funders are reducing their financial involvement, therefore the search for strategic partners who can widen the intelligence of the program network is of vital importance at this time. We are in negotiations with three nonprofits to become co-responsible partners that will actively help increase the intelligence of the networks produced by the entrepreneurial projects created in the program.

Selection of Participants 

In the first two cohorts, social networks were used to scout potential participants. Applicants had to be professionals under 30 years old. They also had to send an introduction video, where they made a case for why the program was relevant to their future and why they were relevant to the program. In the third cohort we exchanged the video requirement for essays and interviews. For the fourth cohort we did deeper adjustments to the process, to better serve the central purpose. We focused the selection on participant nominators instead of the participants themselves. We contacted the heads of a wide range of governmental, business, and nonprofit organizations, including foundations, groups, and movements, and we asked from them the following four things.

a)   To nominate individuals, aged 25 to 35, that they have supervised or mentored, and consider experienced at generating value for the city, and with social entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship abilities. That is, to nominate people with potential to develop new initiatives that generate social value for Bogotá, or people linked with organizations that serve Bogotá, who can generate projects that internally transform these organizations in a way that enhances their ability to impact the city.

b)   To nominate potential mentors for the projects of the program. 

c)   To share challenges in which they are trying to intervene to generate progress in the city

d)   To contribute resources in cash or kind to the program. 

This effort resulted in a more experienced and talented cohort. It also strengthened the co-responsible network that has at its core the purpose of improving Bogotá.

The network in charge of LxB become smarter and it is undoubtedly due to a willingness to put the main goal at the center, to seek co-responsibility between partners and to foster partnerships among all network members. Yet, another key driver of the transformation has been a learning mindset and the decision to advance by trial and error, which has been passed on and disseminated from the first group of designers.  

Some Examples of Different Scales for the LxB Fractal and the Development of Some Smart Networks

In this section we present other fractal pieces, from which the scholarship can draw lessons: some participants of the program speak about the networks they created within the LxB framework. We will start by presenting three cases of successful social ventures: ERES, Trevol Ciudadano, and Convicubo. This last one had an interesting “spin off “of intrapreneurship in the National Police of Colombia. Next, two cases of successful intrapreneurship projects, CoSchool and Somos Capazes. These are social ventures, established prior to the program, which resulted in smarter networks than the ones present at the outset. Lastly, we have two cases, Sello de Transparencia and Ruta Ciudadana. These projects were active for a while but did not continue, despite featuring innovative ideas and resourceful people. However, some of the people involved have continued to build networks to generate progress on the central issue of those projects. 

Some Successful Social Ventures

Eres Tu Sexualidad by Andrea Bocanegra

Andrea has been working since 2012 with the team of Juan Carlos Flórez, a City Councilman of Bogotá. She is in charge of the coordination of the government commission and the preparation of political control debates, especially related to the social policy. 

"In 2013 I was part of the first cohort of the Liderazgo por Bogotá program. The experience was a turning point in my professional life. For the first time, I was part of a project designed within an academic environment, which managed to transcend to the real world. One lesson is that for a good idea to work, it needs cooperation and partners that contribute through effort, work, and ideas.

Together with four teammates from different disciplines, we designed the project "Eres tu sexualidad" (ERES) (“You are Your Sexuality”), aimed at preventing teenage pregnancy, which is a poverty trap in Bogotá that affects mainly the youth from the most vulnerable sectors. For example, while the teenage pregnancy rate in the city is of 48 per thousand, in localities like Bosa and Ciudad Bolivar, it is similar to that of Sub-Saharan Africa: 70.56 per thousand.17 Faced with this reality, we designed an intervention that did not focus exclusively on teaching the use of contraceptive methods. Rather, it sought to promote reflective processes in the youth about their future and sexuality, through the development of didactical and easily replicable activities. The entire methodological and research process and the ERES activities became a toolbox of free access through

In 2014, ERES partnered with Aiesec, the largest youth organization in the world, recognized by UNESCO. With this, more than 30 young volunteers from different Latin American countries have taken the project to public schools in Bogotá and surrounding municipalities. In addition, in 2014 ERES won the Social Impact Challenge for its potential in terms of social impact from among 150 projects of social innovation at international level. It also received the support of the Ministry of Social Protection and the IOM and was recognized as one of the best prevention strategies for teenage pregnancy designed by youth for the youth of the country. The project became a nonprofit foundation and has benefited over 1,500 students of public schools in the city.  

I continue working to strengthen ERES, looking for partners. In addition, I led a debate of political control at the City Council to follow up the district policy on teen pregnancy. Furthermore, in order to enhance my knowledge on the topics covered in the scholarship, I started in 2016 a master's studies in public health at the Escuela de Gobierno (School of Government) Alberto Lleras Camargo.

Trevol Ciudadano by Daniel López

While Daniel was participating in the third cohort of the program, he was working at the Centro de Liderazgo y Gestión (Leadership and Management Center), a Colombian company dedicated to supporting social transformation processes. Currently he is dedicated to Trevol and teaches leadership classes at CESA, a business school located in Bogotá.

"LxB, is based on two essential elements created by and for the citizens of Bogotá. First, it makes an unrelenting call to citizenship co-responsibility for building out the city. Secondly, it facilitates tools and knowledge to its participants to take action and generate progress on specific challenges. It does so with a methodology that turns the classroom into a learning laboratory, creating a safe and high impact space that facilitates social innovation and the application of knowledge to specific realities of the city.

During the LxB scholarship I participated in the construction of TreVol Ciudadano, a social venture that seeks to break paradigms and generate social capital in communities so that they are able to build collective and co-responsible solutions to their main challenges. TreVol provides support to communities for structuring specific projects, articulating different sectors and goodwill. Through a combination of different business strategy methodologies such as generative dialogue and design thinking, among others, which were adapted to an easy language, closer to the citizen, we guided the communities to generate a shared understanding of their main challenges and the future they dream of and aspire to build collectively. We then helped them to identify one or two leverage points or transformation projects that would help them bridge the gap between the present reality and the desired future. Projects must be designed, structured, built, and implemented by the communities themselves. Only in this way, an efficient community empowerment is guaranteed, one that breaks traditional dependency on authority figures for the solution of social problems.

Our first project took place in the Hayuelos neighborhood in Bogotá, with a population of 210,000. The first key partner was AsociHayuelos, an association dedicated to the improvement of the neighborhood, which became the driving force of the process. We applied the methodology described above. We went through the neighborhood in the company of different social players building a joint understanding of the current reality and its main problems, as well as identifying strategic interventions that could bridge the gap between that reality and the desired future. Along with the community, we identified the Canal Hayuelos, a river that flows through the neighborhood and has, on its banks, problems like insecurity, drug trafficking, abandonment, street furniture in poor condition, etc. But, instead of seeing it as a problem, we saw it as an opportunity to generate among the neighbors awareness, citizen empowerment, and a sense of ownership. The questions raised by the community were: How to transform an abandoned, underutilized, and unsafe site into a meeting space, into an environmental, social, and cultural corridor? How to do it in a sustainable and co-responsible manner? We jointly created the HAYcanal project that organizes activities and events every weekend that brings together the diversity of the neighborhood while recuperating the area. 

The collaboration of different people and organizations for the higher objective of taking ownership of the public space and  the improvement of the conditions at the Hayuelos neighborhood has been essential. We wanted to incentivize the joint efforts of the public sector, the private sector, and civil society. Participant organizations include the government of Fontibón, the city government, the UAESP, IDIGER, Aguas de Bogotá, the Police Department, the Fontibón Hospital the Centro Comercial (Shopping Mall) Hayuelos, and organizations such as AsociHayuelos, Ensamblaje Teatro, Peluditos con Futuro, D'Pelos, Escuela de Slackline Bogotá, Bogotá Limpia, Pachamama Sanctuary, Fundación Ayara, and Picnic de Palabras. Around 400 people have participated so far which highlights the importance of collaborative and assembled work around a common goal.

At present TreVol is strengthening its capacities in the Codito community, a marginalized neighborhood in Bogotá that for years has welcomed thousands of people that come seeking opportunities and hoping for a better future. It is inspiring and comforting to witness the love we experience every Saturday when the neighbors welcome us and their unrelenting will to transform a neighborhood that is tired of prejudice and stigmatization. The work there will focus on structuring projects to generate opportunities for the youth. They dream of becoming the cradle of BMX and mountain bike athletes. They want to build public spaces that are greener, peaceful, and inclusive, that allow everyone to enjoy them. They dream of a neighborhood that will be considered a community and a family, a neighborhood where everyone participates.  ¡Un Codito de Oportunidades! (A Codito of Opportunities). The Codito has given us several life lessons, among which love, solidarity, and compassion for our neighbor are fundamental for the construction of a better Colombia".

The Convicubo by Major Andrés Pérez

Upon entering the program, Andrés Pérez had the rank of Captain and was Head of the Centro de Prospectiva y Seguridad Hemisférica (Center of Forward Planning and Hemispheric Security of Ameripol - Police Community of the Americas). During the program he was promoted to Major and moved to the Postgraduate School of Police where, under the direction of Colonel Luis Ernesto García Hernández, he started innovation processes related with officer activities. At present he is Deputy Director of the Escuela Regional de la Comunidad Americana de Inteligencia Antidrogas (Regional School of the Anti-Drug Intelligence Community of the Americas.) He is the author of the book: Policía para el Desarrollo Humano, Epistemología y estrategia de desarrollo humano en la policía a través de la seguridad ciudadana (Police for Human Development, Epistemology and Human Development Strategy in the Police through Citizen Security.)18

"In the 2015-2016 Cohort of the LxB program, the “En la buena vecino" (Doing Great Neighbor) project was born. The methodology uses a piece of urban furniture called CONVICUBO, which provides analog and digital tools, to promote the construction of collective solutions to problems of coexistence. It has four main components: 

  • Communication and Trust, 
  • Aliance of Public - Private Entities
  • Community Participation and 
  • Ownership of Space and Territory

The CONVICUBO was the result of a social innovation process, carried out at Plaza de la Hoja. This is a Priority Interest Housing project in Bogotá, composed of 457 apartments, allocated to victims of the Armed Conflict. Subsequently, "En la buena Vecino" became the Fundación + Convivencia, which seeks to work for improving coexistence conditions by community building. The main project that now supports the foundation is "La Hoja," which seeks to integrate the community through Urban Agriculture and features a psychosocial component and economic entrepreneurship elements.

The Fundación +Convivencia, has implemented the Convicubo in other population groups. For example, in 2016, it was implemented with homeless people, along with the Postgraduate School of the National Police. Better communication and awareness was achieved between policemen and homeless people. "

A jury chose Convicubo as the best project of the third cohort of the scholarship. The case of Major Andrés Pérez, illustrates the positive externalities of intrapreneurship that often happen in LxB. The Major has used the lessons learned with the Convicubo at the program, to promote the creation of a police public policy for coexistence that connects different governmental and private sector actors. Connections gained at LxB allowed him to present innovative proposals for coexistence during the First Congress of Metropolitan Solutions held in 2016  in the city of San José, Costa Rica financed by the IDB, OAS, and the Mayor's Office of Curridabat. Perez worked to create partnerships within the Police, which made possible the First Police Innovation Fair, where 40 projects were presented with disruptive solutions for citizen safety and coexistence, and are now being adopted by different territorial entities. The success of this fair has contributed to promote many more fairs within the Police which have had nationwide impact. 

At present, Major Perez is working on the reform of the Comprehensive Strategy against Drug Trafficking. He claims that the lessons learned in LxB have helped him use leadership processes to innovate the way the National Police addresses the phenomenon of illicit drugs and to engage public and private sector players. One of the first results has been the creation of the Strategic Operational Center of Tumaco a city in western Colombia, which seeks to articulate the Police force and government institutions at national, departmental, and municipal level as well as international cooperation entities.

Some Intrapreneurship Examples 

Pryecto Paz/Somos Capazes by David Salas

David holds a master's degree in engineering from the Universidad de los Andes. He was an Engineering professor and more recently joined the group of professors teaching Leadership classes for the Escuela de Gobierno Alberto Lleras Camargo of the Universidad de los Andes. In 2008 he took part in the creation of a social venture called Somos Capazes (We are Peaceable), which promotes peace among the youth, which he chairs since May 2014. He is also involved in an insurance venture since 2009.  

"In 2014, I was part of the second cohort of the LxB scholarship. It changed my life, the way I see the world and how I work to change it. With two other teammates, we created the Proyecto Paz (Peace Project). It did not continue after the scholarship was over, but being part of it helped me to rethink the virtual platform with which we are working today in Somos Capazes. I entered LxB with the goal of improving my social venture skills and to achieve this I focused on: a.) having an effective vision of leadership, b.) developing skills to generate results, and c.) learning to empower others to follow generate results. My goals were met satisfactorily and there were two things that exceeded my expectations. The first is that the scholarship helped me to think outside my comfort zone, to think bigger and second, it taught me to look for donors far superior than those which I was accustomed to. As a result, in less than two years our payroll grew from one person to 12, and our current partners are companies such as IBM, Seguros del Estado, Grupo Bolívar -- Davivienda, Seguros Beta, UN, and Escuela de Gobierno Alberto Lleras Camargo of the Universidad de los Andes. Likewise, our educational programs went from being present in seven municipalities to 46, and our impact capacity grew from 400 people in 2014 to 3,650 people in 2016. In 2017, our organization continues to be oriented to think big, as I learned in the scholarship, we began to work with international partners such as the United States Government, a foundation in Luxembourg, the International Youth Peace Group of Korea, among others; today we have programs in Perú, Ecuador, Honduras, and Costa Rica."

Sé Tuna Alta and CoSchool by Carlos Echeverri

After working at Enseña por Colombia,19 Carlos co-founded CoSchool, where he worked before, during, and after LxB. He is currently working for McKinsey & Company in Generation, a global education for employment program.

"Sé Tuna Alta (Be Tuna Alta) (STA) was a project focused on the education sector, which we developed as a new action line within a preexisting social venture called CoSchool.20 In other words, it was an intrapreneurship project.

STA is an innovative education model, that seeks to strengthen socio-emotional skills. Students of high socioeconomic status in private schools work hand-in-hand with students of low socioeconomic status in public schools, to solve problems they identify within their context (neighborhood, school, family, etc.). With the pilot program we did during LxB, we impacted 16 students, 50 percent of them from the lowest socioeconomic levels, the rest were from the highest socioeconomic level, and we were able to raise more than five million pesos from a private sector foundation. 

An innovative feature of the project was connecting players from the private sector (Fundación Corona and a private school), a public school and CoSchool, a social venture. This joint venture emerged from the need to acquire different key resources for the success of the project: 1.) Economic resources, donated by the Fundación Corona, 2.) Expert facilitators and pedagogical methodology, from CoSchool, and 3.) Beneficiaries and workspaces from the public and private schools.

Thanks to these three players, who had never worked together before, we achieved the expected results of the project and other unexpected effects. Aside from enhancing their social-emotional skills and developing a social action project in their neighborhood, students in 9th and 10th grade from both schools developed empathy for people living in contexts other than theirs. Besides, the schools located in the Tuna Alta neighborhood of Bogotá established a partnership to continue collaborating on other projects together. Friendships were also made between students from backgrounds that otherwise would not have met and options for vocational exploration were opened-up as they discovered other ways to see the world.

Today this project is still very important for CoSchool. Every year we do this project with several public and private schools. We even worked in Nuquí, Chocó, west of Colombia, together with the Ministry of National Education."

La Rute Ciudadana by Carolina Escallón

Upon entering the program in 2012, Carolina was marketing coordinator for a large nationwide newspaper El Espectador. During the program, she worked for UNICEF as an event coordinator and for Bogotá Cómo Vamos (How are we doing Bogotá) as communications coordinator. She is now a communications consultant for the World Wild Fund.21

"The LxB program was a turning point for me. The notion of a leader always seemed a little annoying to me, because it was far from the level of impact that I wanted to have: one where others were empowered to do their part. When I understood that leadership is more of an exercise, or a practice, than a personal attribute, it activated many of my dreams. Ruta Ciudadana (Citizen Route) started from the premise that all citizens of Bogotá can move from a state of frustration or indifference with the city, to become active citizens. The part missing for the benefit of the city was information and motivation to take concrete actions. Our proposal was to create a platform that would connect activist organizations with potential volunteers. The project did not move forward because each of the members became part of other work or personal initiatives and the work needed to be done to move from the prototype to a more evolved version was not completed. 

I continue working as a communications consultant and I also dared to leave my safe zone and create an educational venture named Misión Posible (Mission Possible). It has already impacted 70 students with more than 12 hours of workshops and the opportunity for the youth between the ages of 12 and 16 to propose solutions to the great challenges of our time: the struggle for equity, the need for sustainable consumption or the fight for transparency, among others. What is the vision? To reach hundreds of schools in Bogotá so that the solutions to these global challenges are built with a local perspective and by those who will play the leading role of those changes. I believe that, from another perspective, the educational one, I want to promote the same thing as with the La Ruta Ciudadana: active citizens."

El Sello De Transparencia by Daniel Ángel

Daniel has always been an entrepreneur. He says that during LxB he went from being a "traditional" entrepreneur to a "social" one as the program pushed him to do a job with impact. 

"The LxB Scholarship was a milestone in my experience as a social entrepreneur. I met a group of classmates from different disciplines and professional backgrounds, who shared the vision of working for the city in a connected way. We were guided by the School of Government from one of the best universities in Colombia. We set up a team with a unique chemistry and work dynamics, as I have not seen in other professional or academic ventures. We focused on a very relevant problem: fraud in public contracts in Bogotá. The project we developed was intended to be a proactive solution to corruption. With the support of the LxB methodology and network, we developed a Sello de Transparencia (Seal of Transparency) for public contractors. Our proposal was aimed to turn the private sector into the game changer at the contracting processes. This was achieved by rewarding, recognizing, and making transparency visible."

The Seal of Transparency did not thrive, according to Pilar Sandoval, one of the creators, because they didn't do the required legal research. It was too late when they realized that the Colombian legislation did not have room for their proposed incentives to transparency to be truly effective. However, he continues to work on the creation of networks that promote transparency: three years ago he joined Colombia Compra Eficiente (Colombia Buys Efficiently), a governmental agency that promotes transparency in state procurement.

Daniel believes that the scholarship helped launch him as a social entrepreneur. He continues to work on several projects around the city with some of the same peers he met at LxB a few years ago. He also has a virtual social venture, which seeks to develop entrepreneurship in school children. It starts in August 2017 with two schools and 78 students involved. 

 How can LxB Become a Smart Network Fractal? 

To transform Bogotá, LxB needs to become a system that produces smart networks at all scales. Interestingly, the program has become aware of this need, right after the launching of a brother organization in Medellín is close to be held. Together, both programs will increase the possible impact on all the social projects in general. 

Perhaps the central conclusion of this article is that smart networks need to be made of players who really care about an issue. Who share a passionate purpose and are able to move to the side, become co-responsible and invisible, while continuing to act, add, intervene, attract, without seeking applause or personal group attention.

The network that produce LxB has seduced players that bring their own networks and resources. The LxB network has grown without losing its fervor of putting the present and future of Bogotá at its center, fostering co-responsible allies. Another key element of the network is a clear willingness to consciously advance by trial and error, toward being smarter. 

In order for LxB to turn into a fractal of smart network creation, the networks that are shaping up from group ventures must emulate or surpass it. The question to have in mind is: How does this program becomes better at helping passionate and talented people to create smart networks that generate progress in their issues? And I think that at the core of this is the type of leadership development we foster. Yet that is a matter for another article.


  1. Explaining what conscious leadership is about, analytical and "soft" skills that human leadership requires and how they are taught are matters for another article. This is a topic of practical research and each cohort of the program benefits from advances made, new tools and pedagogical strategies. If you would like to check a sample of our vision and methods of teaching, you may consult the specialized program, composed of four massive open and online courses, that we created for Coursera called Liderazgo para el Siglo XXI (Leadership for the 21st Century):

  2. I'm going to use elements of the fractal definition I found on the following webpages:, and


  4. Ashoka is an international non-profit organization that promotes the "We can change the world" vision and connects communities of social entrepreneurs, schools, companies and media to strengthen the transforming power of society. Ashoka is the largest international network of social entrepreneurs...

  5. Maria is also the founder of Ashoka Spain, Head of international operations-Europe of Ashoka Emprendedores Sociales (Social Entrepreneurs), has a very impressive resume, and was just named "one of the 100 most creative people in the world" by Forbes magazine.

  6. A more complete definition / explanation can be found in this article, page 151 “2. Smart Networks” For more articles on this subject please visit: And also Jane Wei's website:

  7. Fundación Liderazgo y Democracia, is one of the non-profit elements of an important business group in Colombia and is backed by a large industrial conglomerate the Grupo Corona. For more information visit

  8. Escuela de Gobierno from Universidad de los Andes. For more information visit

  9. Coaching Hall International. For more information visit:

  10. Héctor Hernández,  founder and board member of the Asociación de Vecinos de Chicó Norte - Asovechino. For more information visit

  11. Centro de Emprendimiento Universidad de lo Andes. For more information visit:

  12. Bogotá Cómo Vamos is the city's main citizen observatory. For more information visit.

  13. Mónica Villegas. Project Manager at Fundación Corona.

  14. Mauricio Rico , Director of Corposéptima.

  15. Fundación Liderazgo y Democracia y Fundación BolivarDavivienda. 

  16. Probogota e Invest in Bogotá

  17. Source: Data from the Survey of demographics and health 2011. Bogota’s Health Secretariat (2016)

  18. Policía para el Desarrollo Humano, Epistemología y estrategia de desarrollo humano en la policía a través de la seguridad ciudadana. Autor Mayor Andrés Pérez.

  19. Enseña por Colombia. Colombian Branch of Teach for All. For more information visit

  20. CoSchool project. For more information visit

  21. World Wild Fund Colombia, for more information visit

Author Bio

Maite Careaga

Maite is a professor of Leadership at the Escuela de Gobierno Alberto Lleras Camargo of the Universidad de los Andes. She is also a co-founder and co-director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Escuela de Gobierno of the Andes and co-creator and co-coordinator of the Liderazgo por Bogotá program. She would like to acknowledge Héctor Hernández for useful conversations, comments and revisions; Andrea Bocanegra, David Salas, Daniel López, Carolina Escallón, Daniel Ángel, Carlos Echeverri, Mayor Andrés Pérez Coronado of the Colombian National Police, Allison Benson, Sofía Salas Ungar and Christian Hill for sharing their experience.