Today in Colombia social innovation is increasingly present. It is an essential tool "to seek and give novel solutions to social problems," as the Inter-American Development Bank points out.This positive scenario of greater presence of innovation and social entrepreneurship in Colombian lands contributes Jovesolides Colombia.The entity is one of the partners of the INNOVAT project, promoted from Jovesolides Spain. In 2016 the Colombian association received the 'Best Social Innovation' award with this project. It was in the first edition of the UNICOLOMBO Unique Prizes. Aracely Peña, the current director of the Residencia de Jovesolides Colombia, whom we interviewed, points out that this recognition "highlights the entrepreneurship of people dedicated to creating a new replicable training model, which contributes skills to youth".
- How has Jovesolides Colombia lived its participation as a partner in the INNOVAT program?
For Jovesolides Colombia, the role played, as established by the project, is satisfactory. It has allowed us to establish new collaboration agreements, or to make visible the work carried out in the field of social entrepreneurship. And the most important thing for our organization is to reach out to young people, especially from the university level, by penetrating and expanding our scope of action or focus groups from a clearly community profile.
- Is this the first time that you have collaborated in a project of these characteristics?
Yes, it is the first time that we work in this type of projects. And this has allowed us to stay highly motivated, working in a coordinated and collaborative way to generate new learning, support each other and thus carry out the project successfully.
- Entities such as yours, how do you benefit from participating in an international program like this?
These types of projects are the setting for sharing knowledge, discovering new know-how, changing paradigms and articulated work that becomes the key for partners to see the same goal. As well as the possibility of working with partners from different countries in Europe and Latin America.
- After the laboratories, what has been the response of the young women?
It has been positive. The participation of the young people was active, the attendance was constant, and the role of the young man was very propositive, according to the one designed by the laboratories. Part of the success of the Laboratories, is the Twist Thinking methodology that is a playful mechanic. Through play, participation, and interaction the ultimate goal is to work creatively, to structure ideas in order to arrive at different solutions to social challenges.
- How do you live social entrepreneurship in Colombia? And social innovation, is the concept understood by society?
Social entrepreneurship and social innovation are a relevant topic for Colombia, both in government development plans and in initiatives led by the private sector. An example is the figure of María Elisa Bernal, the Colombian economist with a long experience in CEPAL (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean), and we can hear in the III Forum of Social Innovation talk about social innovation and public policies.
InnovaT is a project involving 5 European organizations; Jovesolides of Spain, the Inter-media Media Knowledge Transfer (InterMedi @ KT), Greece, The Innovation and Development Institute Principe Real (IDS), Portugal, and the Slovak University of Technology, in Slovakia. And in Latin America Jovesolides Nicaragua, Jovesolides Colombia and Jovesolides El Salvador.
This program is funded by the European Union and is part of the key action to promote capacity building for youth in Latin American and European countries. There is also another institution responsible for this project, the Universitat de València.