The Latin America Social Entrepreneurs of the Year

Six winners were selected from a pool of over 500 candidates in national or regional processes. We would not be able to draw upon as diverse and competitive of a candidate pool without our regional and national partners.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

It is always with immense pleasure that I am able to share with you the newly awarded social entrepreneurs in Latin America. They, and the organizations they have started, use innovative solutions to address pressing societal problems on issues such as malnutrition, drinking water, employment, health and environment. They have built financially sustainable business models which already have a widescale social impact.

These six winners were selected from a pool of over 500 candidates in national or regional processes. We would not be able to draw upon as diverse and competitive of a candidate pool without our regional and national partners. I want to thank these partners for their crucial support in the search and selection process, including Grupo Fohla in Brazil, El Mercurio in Chile, Fundacion Sin Limites in Venezuela, the International Labour Organization in Central America and the Inter-American Development Bank for the rest of the region.

This year, we also want to highlight the fact that an increasing number of young people are already successful social entrepreneurs. The World Economic Forum started a new community last year, the Global Shapers, which brings together the entrepreneurial youth under 30 years of age in more than 200 major cities around the world. Of the 17 Shapers that are present at this year`s World Economic Forum Summit on Latin America, we chose to highlight two outstanding social entrepreneurs among them. Here I present the winners:

Martín Andrade, Fundacion Mi Parque, Chile

Martin Andrade founded Mi Parque to improve poorly maintained public spaces in low-income areas. Local families design their community spaces and help build them which ensures that they feel ownership over it's maintenance. To date, Fundacion Mi Parque has implemented 53 projects benefitting more than 150'000 people.

Martin is a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum in the Santiago de Chile hub.

Mois Cherem, ENOVA, Mexico

Mois co-founded ENOVA, which bridges the digital divide through community based e-learning centers featuring advanced technology and well trained facilitators in low-income neighbourhoods. ENOVA has become the biggest network of computer learning centers in Mexico, with 70 sites and over 235,000 members.

Mois is a Global Shaper and active in the Mexico City hub.

Tomas Sanabria, Maniapure, Venezuela

Is a cardiologist and works in remote areas of Venezuela. He started Maniapure to leverage the power of communications technology for rural patients. Through wireless technologies, rural clinics can connect with specialists in Caracas and other major cities for consultation. As a result, nearly 95% of the patients are treated effectively by local health technicians and do not need to travel to a hospital for special treatment.

Gisela Maria Bernardes Solymos, CREN, Brazil

Many organizations work mainly with severely malnourished children, focusing on hospitalization, which can disrupt the mother-child relationship. CREN expands the conventional approach to involve the entire family in the diagnostic and treatment process to prevent, preempt and treat malnutrition. CREN also works with schools to educate communities on nutrition. CREN's activities have currently benefited over 50,000 children throughout Brazil.

Greg Van Kirk, Community Enterprise Solutions, Guatemala

Greg, a former investment banker, pioneered the MicroConsignment Model, which lowers risks for small entrepreneurs to start and run their businesses. Through consignment rather than loans, CE Solutions trains, equips, and supports first-time entrepreneurs to sell products, such as efficient cookstoves, reading glasses and water filters, in remote villages. Currently, more than 300 small entrepreneurs have sold more than 75,000 products during 3,000 village campaigns.

Philip Wilson, EcoFiltro, Guatemala

More than 1 billion people lack access to a safe water source. Philip created EcoFiltro to solve the growing water crisis through simple and affordable in-home water filters. EcoFiltro`s water filters are environmentally friendly: they are made from locally sourced materials including clay and sawdust. Studies confirmed that using the Ecofiltro reduces gastrointestinal disease by 50%. Since its founding 6 years ago, Ecofiltro has sold close to 100,000 filters throughout Guatemala.

On behalf of the entire Schwab Foundation community of Social Entrepreneurs, I am delighted to welcome these outstanding individuals and their organizations into our "family".

Popular in the Community