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Issue 58 | Latin America 2019

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Dear Reader,

“Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation.”
- Dean Kamen

Today we are launching the latest edition of the Social Innovations Journal, “Latin America 2019: Edition 58.” This edition brings us full circle since we began 2019 with an introspective look at innovation in Latin America, and now in the final months of the year we are again returning to Latin America to provide you with a fresh look at innovation and its best practices. While there continues to be a thread of continuity across these editions, specifically breakthrough innovations focused on social mobility and empowerment of underserved communities. We also see in this edition a new perspective on these issues -- the reframing of challenges into opportunities that bring a community together in identifying and executing solutions.

We are excited to bring you organizations fighting to make health care more equitable like Blooders, a project that revamped the blood donation process through technology to increase dwindling blood supplies. The Uniminuto model which continues to improve social mobility through access to higher education for those at the bottom rung of the economic ladder in Colombia, that has now been successfully adopted in West Africa. And, Co-Meta in Jalisco, Mexico, making significant strides in promoting opportunities for women with train the trainer programs to advance empowerment efforts from educational opportunities to the workforce. 

There is new light being shed on old challenges with the collaborative work of Socialab as they embrace a social concern and collectively revision this concern as a challenge that requires the contributions of the entire community. The Escalera Foundation is looking beyond school dropout rates to find the root cause and utilizing incentives in innovative ways to support youth continuing their secondary school educations. Efforts to protect nationally, and globally, significant biodiversity in Mexico is taking place by mainstreaming biodiversity friendly management practices in productive landscapes in priority biological corridors. And, finally, this edition shares the top findings of the Corona Foundation’s decade-long work on inclusive employment practices to deliver the best practices and models on how to create a more inclusive employment market.

Our latest edition was curated by Maria-Alejandra Navas, our Journal’s international director, who brings authors from across Latin America together to provide myriad approaches to social concerns that are being tackled by social entrepreneurs from small startups to world-renowned foundations. We are excited to share the stories of the innovators of this edition who are cultivating a culture of hope and shifting the paradigm of their communities through impact from environmental sustainability to health care to education to women empowerment. Their collective energy and vision are reshaping the lives of those most in need and creating a path forward for a modern Latin America, and the world, as exemplified in the inspiring stories and work of these Changemakers.

We hope you not only learn new approaches but are inspired with a new perspective in addressing the concerns that too often threaten to stall human progress, but in reality, are only part of our journey to a better, brighter future for all.

Yours in innovation,

Alejandra Navas, International Director
Alescia M. Dingle, Managing Editor
Mike Clark, President
Nicholas Torres and Tine Hansen-Turton, Co-founders


Summary of the “Latin America 2019: Edition 58” articles: 

1. “Blooders: Transforming the Experiences of Donating Blood and Changing Paradigms”

by César Esquivel and Gisell Silva

Blooders is known for developing technology that transforms the Voluntary Blood Donation Activity into a positive experience. They have launched the first digital platform in LATAM which connect people who need blood with non-remunerated voluntary donors and hospitals to enhance the donation experience. If there is a patient that has encountered an emergency and needs blood, the mobile application allows the community to interact quickly and easily and enables members to help in the process of recruiting voluntary blood donors to meet the patient’s needs. Furthermore, Blooders developed an interactive website with a digital chatbot agent available 24/7 to interact with the community and a blood bank management system with visionary features. 


2. “Innovative Experience of International Cooperation for the Transference of a Higher Education Model Between Colombia and Ivory Coast”

by Jorge Enrique Gallego Vásquez and Ana María Cifuentes Camacho

The Minuto de Dios University (UNIMINUTO), is a higher education institution with a presence in Colombia for more than 27 years, during which time it has focused on providing opportunities for access to higher education to the population located at the base of the country’s economic pyramid. Through the national experiences, UNIMINUTO has provided two higher education institutions with support in their growth for the last ten years. This experience as well as its international recognitions,  prepared the transference of this model to other developing countries, which established a roadmap from the systematization of the model to become a standard of higher education that can be replicated in similar social and economic environments, as in the case of West Africa. 


3. “SOCIALAB: Making an Impact by Providing Solutions for the World”

by Valentina González

SociaLab works as a company with a strong focus on social impact, that researches and highlights problems that are affecting communities, regions, or the world. Then, with the help of different organizations, these problems become challenges. It calls upon creative minds, with talent and diverse knowledge, that are part of the SociaLab open innovation global platform, and society in general, to submit ideas that might end or mitigate the effects of the said problem. The focus is also on how these ideas also have the potential to become companies that might provide new opportunities, such as the same organizations that once supported them. In other words, SociaLab is concerned with broadening the impact and efficiency of sustainability strategies, innovation, and communication of both public and private organizations. Their work is achieved through the support of sustainable entrepreneurship ideas that have the potential to become part of the public agenda. 


4. “Finding the Best Incentives for Youth in Mexico to Continue Studying”

by Myriam Hernández Vázquez

Since 2013, the Escalera Foundation has generated evidence of the most efficient types of incentives to reduce school dropout rates in the most marginalized area of Mexico, the state of Chiapas. Through randomized controlled trials, the REACH program has assessed the effects of providing subsidies or subsidies and motivational materials to young people who are transitioning from junior high to high school. The latest results of this program indicate that, in general, subsidies have a positive effect on school continuity, even more so if these subsidies are accompanied with motivational content (showing an increase of six percentage points). Along with this evidence, Escalera identifies various relevant factors to ensure success in its programs that are focused on combatting school dropout rates among rural and indigenous populations.


5. “A Mexican Experience with the Sustainable Use of Biodiversity: Transformative Insights for a Global Challenge”

by Pablo Fregoso

Coordinated work for biodiversity conservation and environmental sustainability with the World Bank, the Global Environment Fund, and the Mexican government started in 1996, especially targeting the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. In that context, a new initiative was developed to promote mainstreaming biodiversity conservation with productive landscapes between 2012 and 2017. The specific objective of the project development was to conserve and protect nationally and globally significant biodiversity in Mexico through mainstreaming biodiversity friendly management practices in productive landscapes in priority biological corridors. This project implied a shift from original conservationist perspectives about the environment towards a view of productive and sustainable use of natural resources with a particular emphasis on the biological corridor region. 


6. “Co-Meta: A Collective Impact Experience to Promote the Economic Empowerment of Women in Jalisco: The Problem of the Empowerment of Low Economic Women”

by Magdalena Rodríguez

Following international trends, in Mexico today, only 42 percent of women older than 15 years old are employed compared with 75 of men of the same age according to the Encuesta Nacional de Ocupación y Empleo (ENOE). In 2016, ProSociedad set forth a proposal to develop a program to train social organizations and the public sector already involved directly or indirectly with the economic empowerment of women.  Co-Meta was formed in the framework of a macro project entitled “Jalisco Sin Hambre” (Jalisco Without Hunger) financed by CONACYT and the Secretary of Innovation, Science, and Technology of Mexico with the leadership of ITESO, the Tecnológico de Monterrey, among other academic institutions. 


7. “Learnings on Inclusive Employment in Colombia”

by Daniela Matiz and Germán Barragán 

Corona Foundation is a second-floor family foundation that has been working for the betterment of Colombia during the past 56 years. In 2011, the foundation assumed the second-floor role and started working in the area of strategy with a focus on monitoring and learning from initiatives and creating models that can be replicable on its two lines of action: education oriented to employment and education for participation. After nearly a decade of research in these topics, lessons learned can be included in the development of the Model of Inclusive Employment that this article best describes.