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The World finds itself ad portas of a new era. The massive diffusion of digital technologies and complex systems combining hardware, sensors, data storage, microprocessors, and software are changing the nature of products, altering value chains, transforming political, economic, and social structures at a global scale, more quickly than in other periods of history. These changes have been causing a breakdown within the actual life model, leading to the current digital era.  

According to a report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean CEPAL, it is expected that for 2020, the broadband speed will be doubled, the number of devices connected to the IP network will be three times bigger than the world’s population, and the total number of smart phones will represent about the 50 percent of global connections and devices.1

This context presents new scenarios: Robots and automatized learning and the substitution of job positions with repetitive tasks; new ways of production requiring digital skills, and the development of specialists to create and manage new production systems, on one side. On the other side, new scenarios of competition for companies with the imperative necessity to increase productivity through innovation.  

The immediate circulation of information has led to the emergence of social media that connects people and communities that could not otherwise connect, and with that, they produce a flow of information that is becoming a fertile ground for social changes.  

In the words of Sheryl Sandberg, COO de Facebook: “Technology puts a name and a face -- a true identity -- to those that were invisible before and gives sound to voices that otherwise could not be heard.” 2 

This situation has caused technology hubs, incubators, and laboratories working all around the world to enable knowledge and adaptation to situations that should be considered opportunities to think out of the box, outside of comfort zones where the same solutions are being used to solve social and economic problems that require different solutions.  

It is precisely at this point that the mission of the Social Innovations Journal acquires special importance, by giving visibility to these new ideas that will resonate and become examples that will generate new ideas that will solve social problems on a global sclae. Collaboration is key, and technology causing this change, will also be the instrument to face these challenges and enable all of us to adapt to this new era.  

In this edition, we will focus on the articulation of Technology and Social Innovations in Latin America.  

 TEPSIE, the acronym of Theoric, Empiric, and from Policies Foundations for the Social Innovation Construction in Europe, provides a definition of Digital Technology in social innovation as the “use of Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT) such as online network and other digital tools to support and/or allow the social innovation.” 3 

According to this definition, social innovation is being improved by the use of ICT. This does not mean that in all the social innovations the final user and the beneficiaries are going to use digital tools to meet their needs and solve their problems, but to perceive technology as a tool that, used in a certain way by one of the actors or in a particular moment of the development process of the social innovation, will support, improve, and/or allow the searched social change.  

This means that digital technology: 

  • is an important support for existing social innovations because it allows them to have better results in terms of performance and efficiency; 
  • allows the emergence of new types of social innovation producing new impacts and opportunities through having access to the required information to develop and facilitate new forms of collaboration seen as a dynamism in communications between the stakeholders; and  
  • can modify in a significant manner the structures and type of governance in a society and set new social and business models that were not possible before, since it fosters new different production process, value chains and organization models. 

Thus, it can be said that digital technology is producing a change of culture that modifies the relationships between people and changes the approach of problems and their solutions. Understanding the cultural context, is then fundamental to designing social innovation projects and to adapting them to the present reality.  

The challenge lies in answering the question of how science, technology, and innovation can contribute to development and how to achieve participation in global growth from the perspective of sustainability and social, environmental, and economical inclusion. 

Latin American Summary 

Latin America is a continent of contrasts. According to a report made by the CEPAL during the Open Forum of Latin American and the Caribbean Sciences held on September 20164 it is a region that on one side, is focused on the production and exportation of products from natural resources with low added value, and, on the other side, there continues to be a low level of investment in science and technology. In addition, while industrialized countries have preeminence of private financing for research and development issues, in Latin America, this financing is essentially from public institutions. Companies in the region are deficient in supporting research and development and most of them prefer to import technologies and adapt them to their needs.  

The New Objectives of Sustainable Development and the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development presents additional challenges for the region given the necessity to reach a certain level of economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability. 

In fact, according with the CEPAL’s report, the indicators of efforts in innovation and access to technology are not positive:  

  • The capacity for the region to absorb the new technological paradigms and participate on their creation is still weak. 
  • The implementation of policies and agendas on research are timid.  
  • There is a lack of articulation of capacities and opportunities in science, technology, and innovation to optimize a sustainable development. 
  • There is an important need for public policies that will generate inclusive and sustainable development processes based on science, technology, and innovation.  
  • Micro and small companies represent the biggest percentage of participation in the region’s production and nonetheless have several problems in accessing appropriate credit, they do not have capacity to support innovation, and absorption of new knowledge due to low contact with other companies. There are a lot of start-up projects that, for different reasons, cannot succeed and scale for lack of financing and dependency on ever demanding philanthropic sources. 

According to recent predictions, it is expected that, in the developed countries, the technological change will produce more than 5.1 million losses of positions between 2015-2020. This scenario is tough for countries experiencing bigger population growth without the needed skills for the new challenges, as well as inappropriate and lacking institutional framework to respond to these changes.  

The global technological dynamics show that competitivity and growth of countries will depend increasingly on their capacity to integrate the global digital ecosystem. This ecosystem will push them to improve their infrastructure, the human capital, and the entrepreneurial environment, define the world’s standards, regulate the data flow, protect intellectual property rights, and defend the safety and privacy of users.  

In a study of about 100 initiatives of digital social innovations that are transforming Latin America conducted by the ESADE ( Upper School of Administration and Management of Enterprises), University Ramon Llul and the Institute of Social Innovation, consider the subject of digital social innovation  regionally is starting to have an important impact especially in the sectors of education, health, and financial inclusion, allowing, in general, measurement of social impact; a better understanding of people’s behaviors through tools like big data analysis; connection between actors that usually would not be connected; and the scalability and replicability of social innovations. The study also shows that some countries in the region are perceived as having more advances, such as Chili who is having a more consolidated innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem, Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia with dynamic ecosystems and intermediaries that are supporting social innovations, and Argentina with a promising future thanks to the high number of B certified companies.  

Final Considerations 

In general, it can be affirmed that technology is pushing the region to adopt, own, and implement social impact as a necessary tool to support and improve innovation projects promoting  sustainable social impact, not only to position itself in the international economy but, also, to face new problems arising in the present digital world. 

It is essential for the region to analyze opportunities and challenges arising because of the digital economy. It requires the development of new skills to work with technology to solve problems rather than seeing it as a threat that would replace humans.  

To close the productivity gap between Latin America’s countries and developed countries, it is necessary to incorporate technology in the productive process and articulate it with the development objectives of the countries. Inasmuch as there has been progress in this matter, the only way to accomplish this is by creating more fair and inclusive societies. For that, two essential aspects should be considered:  

On one hand, a change of perception is needed. A cultural change through which the innovative way of thinking is promoted in order to encourage people to think “out of the box,” look for new solutions and new ways of approaching problems, and to use technology as a tool at service of their creativity. In other words, being aware of the necessity to promote research, and the development of new skills, required not only to adapt technologies coming from abroad to the regional context, but specially to create it locally.  

On the other hand, collaboration. It is clear that the articulation of private sector, public sector, civil society, and academia is essential to support, develop, and scale social innovations in a framework of relevant public policies that are consistent with the population’s needs. 

Finally, I would like to highlight a proposal made by the CEPAL concerning the necessity to enhance actions of regional cooperation. The region faces similar challenges and problems and a joint effort to boost a digital economy only represents benefits for all. 

In this sense, I would like to introduce the subjects developed in this edition:  


INTERPRETA Foundation: The Use of Technology in Humanitarian Work

Bastián Díaz

The Foundation was born in 2016 in Santiago, Chili, as an answer to problems of the migrant communities in Chili, a growing issue in recent years. Moving away from assisting solutions such as delivering breakfasts or giving Spanish courses to Haitians, the Foundation prefers to position itself as an example of innovation by using tools of the corporate world and technology to solve problems related to immigration issues. 


Local Innovation Ecosystems to Strengthen Agroecology in Colombia: The Preliminary Case of LabCampesino of Tierra Libre's Organization

Juan David Reina and Julián Ortiz

The use of digital technologies based on free hardware to contribute to the promotion of groecology isa in itself an innovative idea. However, it is the process of social owning of science, technology, and innovation in the rural sector and specially from the rural population, which creates disruptive conditions facing the traditional practices of technological transfer. In this sense, the article presents the progress and opportunities that are creating the Tierra Libre Project and, in particular, its initiative of LabCampesino that aims to strengthen a social innovation’s ecosystem and to promote agroecological practices in the rural population of the province of Sumapaz, Colombia. 


The Social Innovations Scientific Park

Paula Estefanía Castaño

The Minuto de Dios Organization (MDO), created by Father Rafael García-Herreros in the second half of the 20th century, has focused its efforts on service to society as the driving force of each of its entities; these, always seeking to respond to social problems in Colombia in various aspects such as health, housing, education, and others. And it is thanks to this approach, that in 2012 the work of the Social Innovation Science Park (SISP) begins as a commitment to social innovation responding to social needs. In this, we will take a closer look at how the SISP came about, what it is, how it works, and its impact.


MPZero: Sustainable, Affordable, and Clean Heating Available for Everyone

Ricardo Soto

Every winter, the air pollution caused by the combustion of biomass for residential heating is one of the biggest environmental problems suffered by the cities of South-Central Chile. Because the use of wood-burning stoves is the most affordable heating method, it remains today, despite its negative environmental implications, the most used tool by the population of Chile, despite causing serious health problems in the community, especially for children and the elderly. MPzero is a device for reducing emissions of fine particulate material, developed in Chile, which captures up to 97 percent of the emissions produced by this heating equipment, helping to keep the air clean and heating costs low for families who do not have access to heating methods that produce less pollutions.


Leadership Profile: Martha Leticia Silva

María Alejandra Navas 

The leader of tomorrow is humble and authentic, curious and sensitive, flexible to learn new things and adapt easily to changes. It is someone who does not give up and versatile enough to consider differences as opportunities for growth,  

I met Martha Leticia Silva Flores during a social innovation event organized by the CISAI, Center of High Impact Social Innovation, in Jalisco, Mexico last June. She is its director and the impression that she made when we met, and what I was able to learn about her in just a few days’ time, convinced me to write about her as a leader of tomorrow.     


Connecting Points: Intelligence on Field to Solve Social Problems

Iván Yza

Facing the search for the democratization of the media and the need to access new technological tools to allow for the solution of problems related to transparency and accountability, most of which we know little to nothing about their functioning or how to put them in operation, Virk came into existence in 2014. Virk had a clear objective: to create tools that will allow organizations to innovate in issues like the systematization and documentation of information in low-cost and user-friendly, simple ways. This enabled Virk to become a channel for innovations and avoid restrictions that most users have facing new technologies, and to develop the first tools for reports and documentations in Mexico and Latin America.


1 CEPAL-NACIONES UNIDAS. Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación en la Economía Digital. Septiembre 2016. 

2 Patricia Morizio. Huffington Post. Febrero 2013. 

3 Jeremy Millard, Gwendolyn Carpenter. Digital Technology in Social Innovation. 



Works Cited

“How Tech Can Maximize Social Impact.” Kevin Barenblat July 6, 2017. Stanford Social Innovation Review

“Two of a Kind: Where Technology Meets Social Innovation.” Patricia Morizio. Feb 11, 2013. Huffington Post.

Digital Technology in Social Innovation, A Synopsis. November 2014.

TEPSIE: Acronym of The Theoretical, Empirical and Policy Foundations for Building Social Innovation in Europe. Research project founded under de European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme 2012-2014. Authors: Jeremy Millard, Gwendolyn Carpenter.

Esade Universidad Ramon LLUL. Instituto de Innovacion Social. “La Revolución Digital ante los Grandes Retos del Mundo” 100 Iniciativas de Innovación Social Digital que están transformando América Latina. Autores Heloise Buckland, Alejandra Garmilla, David Murillo. Martha Leticia Silva Flores. Junio 2018. 

“Ciencia, Tecnolofia e Innovacion en la Economia Digial: La Situacion de America Latina y El Caribe.” Sept. 2016 -- CEPAL .“Políticas de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Sustentable e Inclusiva en América Latina. Isabel Bortagaray. Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Educación, Ciencia y la Cultura UNESCO. 2016. Cilac -- Foro abierto de ciencias latinoamericanas y Caribe. 

“Ciencia, Tecnologia e Innovacion en la Economia Digital La Situacion de America Latina y El Caribe.” Cepal – Naciones Unidas. Segunda Reunion de la Conferencia de Ciencia, Innocacion y Tic de la Cepal. Sept. 2016. 





Inglés | Español

Panorama General 

El mundo se encuentra ad portas de una nueva era. La masiva difusión de las tecnologías digitales y los sistemas complejos que combinan hardware, sensores, almacenamiento de datos, microprocesadores y software están cambiando la naturaleza de los productos, alterando cadenas de valor, transformando las estructuras económicas, políticas y sociales a escala mundial, más rápidamente que en otras etapas de la historia que marcaron, con sus cambios, una ruptura con el modelo de vida imperante, dando paso a una era digital. 

Según informe de la CEPAL, se prevé que para 2020 las velocidades de banda ancha se duplicarán, el número de dispositivos conectados a la red IP será tres veces mayor que la población mundial y el número total de teléfonos inteligentes representará casi el 50% de los dispositivos y conexiones globales.1

Este contexto presenta nuevos escenarios: Los robots y el aprendizaje automático y la sustitución de puestos de trabajo con tareas rutinarias y repetitivas; nuevas capacidades de producción que requieren de habilidades digitales y el desarrollo de especialistas para crear y manejar nuevos sistemas de producción, por un lado, y por el otro, nuevos escenarios de competencia para las empresas con la necesidad imperiosa de incrementar su productividad a través de la innovación. 

La circulación inmediata de la información ha dado lugar al surgimiento de las redes sociales que están conectando a personas y comunidades que de otra manera no podrían hacerlo, y, con ello, están generando un flujo de comunicación que constituye terreno fértil para cambios sociales. 

En palabras de Sheryl Sandberg, COO de Facebook: “la tecnología le pone nombre y una cara – una verdadera identidad- a aquellos que antes eran invisibles y está subiendo el volumen de voces que de otras manera no podrían ser escuchadas”.2  

Esto ha ocasionado un boom de hubs de tecnología, incubadoras y laboratorios trabajando en todo el mundo para permitir el entendimiento y la adaptación de todos a situaciones que deben ser consideradas como la oportunidad de “salir del molde” , de la zona de confort en donde se utilizan las mismas soluciones para resolver problemas sociales y económicos que cada vez requieren de nuevas ideas. 

Es aquí en donde la labor del Social Innovations Journal adquiere especial relevancia por su misión de darle visibilidad a esas nuevas ideas que se constituirán en ejemplos y resonarán en otras personas que, a su vez, generarán más nuevas ideas para darle solución a los problemas sociales de una manera más global. La colaboración es la clave, y la tecnología, causante del cambio, será asimismo el instrumento para hacerle frente al desafío y permitirnos adaptarnos a esta nueva era. 

En esta edición, nos enfocaremos, precisamente, en la relación entre la tecnología y la innovación social en América Latina. 

TEPSIE, el acrónimo de Fundaciones Teóricas, Empíricas y de Políticas para la Construcción de la Innovación Social en Europa, nos proporciona una definición de  tecnología digital en innovación social como El uso de Información, Comunicación y Tecnología (ITC) tales como las redes online y otras herramientas digitales para apoyar y/o permitir la innovación social.3 

De acuerdo con esta definición, la innovación social está siendo mejorada por el uso de TIC. Esto no quiere decir que en todas las innovaciones sociales el usuario final y los beneficiarios van a usar herramientas digitales para satisfacer sus necesidades y solucionar sus problemas, sino en el sentido de percibir la tecnología como una herramienta que, usada de determinada manera por alguno de los actores, o en algún momento del proceso de desarrollo de la innovación social, apoyará, mejorará y/o posibilitará el cambio social buscado. 

Esto significa que, la tecnología digital:   

  • Es un apoyo importante para innovaciones sociales existentes ya que les permite tener mejores resultados en términos de eficiencia y eficacia. 
  • Permite el surgimiento de nuevos tipos de innovación social que producen nuevos impactos y nuevas oportunidades a través de la forma de tener acceso a la información que necesitan para desarrollar, y para facilitar nuevas formas de colaboración a través del dinamismo de las comunicaciones entre los actores implicados. 
  • Puede alterar de manera significativa las estructuras y el tipo de gobernanza de una sociedad y configurar nuevos modelos sociales y de negocios que antes no eran posibles, pues propicia nuevos procesos de producción, cadenas de valor y modelos de organización diferentes. 

Es así como, podría decirse que la tecnología digital está produciendo un cambio cultural que modifica las relaciones entre las personas y su manera de abordar los problemas y las soluciones. Un entendimiento del contexto cultural es, pues, fundamental al momento de diseñar proyectos de innovación social que se adecúen a la realidad actual. 

El desafío se centra en responder a la pregunta de cómo la ciencia, la tecnología y la innovación puede contribuir a su desarrollo y participar del crecimiento mundial desde una perspectiva de sostenibilidad e inclusión social, ambiental y económica.  


América Latina es un continente de contrastes. De acuerdo con un informe de la CEPAL durante el Foro Abierto de Ciencias Latinoamericanas y del Caribe en Septiembre de 2016 es una región que cuenta, por un lado, con una producción centrada en la exportación de productos basados en recursos naturales con un bajo valor agregado, y, por otro lado, con un nivel bajo de inversión en ciencia y tecnología. Adicionalmente, mientras que los países industrializados tienen una preminencia de financiación privada en temas de investigación y desarrollo, en América Latina, dicha financiación es fundamentalmente pública. Las empresas en la región presentan una ausencia de investigación y desarrollo y prefieren, la gran mayoría, tecnologías importadas y su adaptación a sus necesidades. 

Los nuevos Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible y la Agenda 2030 para el Desarrollo Sostenible presentan retos adicionales para la región pues hay una necesidad de alcanzar un nivel de crecimiento económico, inclusión social y sostenibilidad ambiental. 

La realidad es que, según informe de la CEPAL, los indicadores del esfuerzo innovador y acceso a la tecnología no son favorables. 

  • La capacidad de la región de absorber los nuevos paradigmas tecnológicos y participar en su creación es aún débil. 
  • La puesta en práctica de políticas y agendas de investigación son tímidas. 
  • Falta articulación de las capacidades y oportunidades de ciencia, tecnología e innovación que potencialicen el desarrollo sostenible.
  • Hacen falta políticas públicas que generen procesos de desarrollo sostenible e inclusivo basados en ciencia, tecnología e innovación. 
  • Las micro y pequeñas empresas son las responsables del mayor porcentaje de participación en la producción en la región, y sin embargo, tienen muchos problemas para acceder al crédito, no tienen capacidad de innovación y absorción de nuevos conocimientos ya que su vinculación con otras empresas es baja. Existen muchos proyectos en fase start-up que, por diversas razones, no logran prosperar y escalar, en muchos casos por falta de financiación y por su dependencia de fuentes filantrópicas cada vez más exigentes. 

De acuerdo con predicciones recientes, se espera que, en los países más desarrollados, el cambio tecnológico produzca la pérdida de más de 5.1 millones de puestos de trabajo durante el período 2015-2020. Este panorama es difícil para los países que experimentarán un mayor crecimiento de la población por lo que carecen de las habilidades necesarias para los nuevos desafíos y no cuentan con un marco institucional adecuado para dar respuesta. 

La dinámica tecnológica mundial muestra que la competitividad y el crecimiento de los países dependerán cada vez más de su capacidad para integrarse al ecosistema digital mundial. Dicho ecosistema los obligará a mejorar su infraestructura, el capital humano y el entorno empresarial, definir estándares mundiales, regular los flujos de datos, proteger los derechos de propiedad intelectual y defender la seguridad y privacidad de sus usuarios. 

En un estudio sobre 100 Iniciativas de Innovación Social Digital que están transformando América Latina, realizado por el ESADE, Universidad Ramón Llul y el Instituto de Innovación Social, consideran que el tema de la Innovación Social Digital en la región está comenzando a tener un impacto importante especialmente en los sectores de la educación, la salud y la inclusión financiera, permitiendo, en general: La medición del impacto social; una mayor comprensión del comportamiento de las personas a través de herramientas como el análisis del big data;  la conexión entre actores que normalmente no estarían conectados; y la escalabilidad y replicabilidad de las innovaciones sociales. El estudio también señala que en algunos países de la región se perciben mayores avances, tales como Chile quien cuenta con un ecosistema emprendedor e innovador más consolidado, Brasil, México y Colombia con ecosistemas dinámicos e intermediarios que apoyan las innovaciones sociales, y Argentina con un futuro prometedor gracias al elevado número de empresas B certificadas. 


De manera general, se puede afirmar que la tecnología está empujando a la región a adoptarla, apropiarla y utilizarla como la herramienta necesaria para apoyar y mejorar proyectos de innovación que promuevan un impacto social sostenible, no sólo para posicionarse en la economía internacional sino, también, para hacerle frente a las nuevas problemáticas que están surgiendo en el mundo digital actual. 

Es imperativo para la región analizar las oportunidades y los retos que surgen de la economía digital. Se requerirá el desarrollo de nuevas habilidades para que, en lugar de que las máquinas reemplacen a los seres humanos, éstas se conviertan en instrumentos, en herramientas con las cuales se pueda trabajar para solucionar los problemas que aquejan a la humanidad hoy. 

Para cerrar la brecha de productividad entre los países de la región y los países más desarrollados, se requiere incorporar la tecnología a los procesos productivos y articularla con los objetivos de desarrollo de los países. Ya que, si bien ha habido importantes progresos en esta dirección, la única manera de lograrlo es creando sociedades más justas e incluyentes. Para ello, se requiere la incorporación de dos aspectos esenciales: 

Por un lado, se requiere un cambio de percepción. Un cambio cultural a través del cual se promueva el pensamiento innovador que lleve a las personas a osar “salir del molde”, buscando nuevas soluciones, nuevas maneras de abordar los problemas y utilizar la tecnología como una herramienta al servicio de su creatividad. En otras palabras, concientizarse de la necesidad de promover la investigación, el desarrollo de las habilidades necesarias no sólo para adaptar tecnologías de afuera, sino para crearlas localmente, a la medida del contexto en el que viven. 

Y, por otro lado, se requiere la colaboración. Es claro que la articulación del sector privado, el sector público, la sociedad civil, la academia  es fundamental para apoyar, desarrollar y escalar las innovaciones sociales en un marco de políticas públicas pertinentes y coherentes con las necesidades de la población. Y finalmente, quisiera resaltar la propuesta de la CEPAL en cuanto a la necesidad de impulsar acciones de cooperación regional. La región enfrenta desafíos y problemáticas similares y el trabajo conjunto para impulsar una economía digital regional sólo puede aportar beneficios a todos. 

Finalmente, quisiera introducir brevemente los temas desarrollados en esta edición:    


Fundación INTERPRETA: El uso de tecnología en trabajo humanitario

Bastián Díaz

La Fundación nació en 2016 en Santiago, Chile, como una respuesta a los problemas de las comunidades migrantes en Chile, una situación que ha venido aumentando en los últimos años. Alejándose de las soluciones asistencialistas como, por ejemplo, entregando desayunos o dando clases de español a los Haitianos, la Fundación ha preferido posicionarse como un ejemplo de innovación al utilizar herramientas del mundo corporativo y la tecnología para resolver problemas relacionados con situaciones migratorias.  


Ecosistemas de Innovación Local para Fortalecer la Agroecología en Colombia: El caso preliminar de la organización Tierra Libre: LabCampesino

Juan David Reina and Julián Ortiz

El uso de tecnologías digitales basadas en hardware libre para contribuir a la promoción de la Agroecología es, como tal, una idea innovadora. Sin embargo, es el proceso social de apropiación de la ciencia, la tecnología y la innovación en el sector rural y especialmente en la población campesina, lo que crea condiciones disruptivas frente a las prácticas tradicionales de transferencia de tecnología. En este sentido, este artículo presenta el progreso y las oportunidades que está creando el Proyecto Tierra Libre, en particular, en su iniciativa de LabCampesino que busca fortalecer el ecosistema de innovación social y promover prácticas agroecológicas en la provincia de Sumapaz, Colombia.   


El Parque Científico de Innovación Social

Paula Estefanía Castaño

La organización Minuto de Dios (MDO), creada por el Padre Rafael García-Herreros en la segunda mitad del siglo XX, ha enfocado sus esfuerzos en hacer del servicio a la sociedad la fuerza motriz de cada una de sus entidades, las cuales siempre buscan responder a los problemas sociales en Colombia en aspectos como la salud, la vivienda, la educación y otros. Gracias a esta visión, en 2012 el trabajo del Parque Científico de Innovación Social comienza como un compromiso con la innovación social canalizada para responder a necesidades sociales. En este artículo se muestra cómo surgió el Parque, qué es, cómo trabaja y cuál es su impacto. 


MPZero: Calefacción Sustentable, Económica y Limpia al Alcance de Todos

Ricardo Soto

Cada invierno, el aire contaminado causado por la combustión de biomasa para calefacción residencial es uno de los mayores problemas ambientales que sufren las ciudades del Centro-Sur de Chile. Debido a que el uso de estufas a leña es el método de calefacción más económico, sigue siendo al día de hoy, a pesar de sus negativas implicancias medioambientales, el más utilizado por la población, acarreando graves problemas de salud en la comunidad, principalmente en niños y adultos mayores. MPzero es un equipo de reducción de emisiones de material particulado fino, desarrollado en Chile, que captura hasta un 97% de las emisiones producidas por estos equipos de calefacción, ayudando a mantener el aire limpio y bajo los costos de calefacción, sobre todo a familias que no tienen acceso a métodos de calefacción menos contaminantes.


Perfil de un Líder: Martha Leticia Silva

María Alejandra Navas 

El líder del mañana es una persona humilde y auténtica, curiosa y sensible, flexible para aprender y adaptarse rápidamente en los cambios y para quien las diferencias son oportunidades de enriquecimiento mutuo. Finalmente, el líder del mañana es una persona versátil y perseverante con sus metas.  

Conocí a Martha Leticia Silva Flores en el evento sobre Innovación Social que realizó el Centro de Innovación Social de Alto Impacto CISAI, en el estado de Jalisco en México en Junio de este año, Ella es su Directora y el impacto que me produjo conocerla y lo que pude percibir del ser humano y la profesional, me convencieron de la necesidad de escribir sobre ella, por ser un ejemplo de todo lo que hemos venido aprendiendo sobre los líderes del mañana.  


Conectando Los Puntos: Inteligencia En Terreno para Resolver Problemas Sociales

Iván Yza

Frente a la búsqueda de la democratización de los medios de comunicación y la necesidad de acceder a nuevas herramientas tecnológicas que permitieran resolver problemas relacionados con la transparencia y la rendición de cuentas, de los cuales en la mayoría de los casos sabían muy poco o nada sobre su funcionamiento o como ponerlos en marcha, surgió Virk en 2014 con una premisa clara: Crear herramientas que permitiera a las organizaciones innovar en materia de sistematización y documentación de la información, de bajo costo y simples de usar. Permitiéndole convertirse en un vehículo para la innovación y evitar restringir las posibilidades de quienes usan nuestra tecnología, gracias a lo cual desarrollaron la primera herramienta de reporte y documentación en su tipo en México y Latinoamérica.  


1 CEPAL-NACIONES UNIDAS. Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación en la Economía Digital. Septiembre 2016. 

2 Patricia Morizio. Huffington Post. Febrero 2013. 

3 Jeremy Millard, Gwendolyn Carpenter. Digital Technology in Social Innovation. 




“How Tech Can Maximize Social Impact.” Kevin Barenblat July 6, 2017. Stanford Social Innovation Review

“Two of a Kind: Where Technology Meets Social Innovation.” Patricia Morizio. Feb 11, 2013. Huffington Post.

Digital Technology in Social Innovation, A Synopsis. November 2014.

TEPSIE: Acronym of The Theoretical, Empirical and Policy Foundations for Building Social Innovation in Europe. Research project founded under de European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme 2012-2014. Authors: Jeremy Millard, Gwendolyn Carpenter.

Esade Universidad Ramon LLUL. Instituto de Innovacion Social. “La Revolución Digital ante los Grandes Retos del Mundo” 100 Iniciativas de Innovación Social Digital que están transformando América Latina. Autores Heloise Buckland, Alejandra Garmilla, David Murillo. Martha Leticia Silva Flores. Junio 2018. 

“Ciencia, Tecnolofia e Innovacion en la Economia Digial: La Situacion de America Latina y El Caribe.” Sept. 2016 -- CEPAL .“Políticas de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Sustentable e Inclusiva en América Latina. Isabel Bortagaray. Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Educación, Ciencia y la Cultura UNESCO. 2016. Cilac -- Foro abierto de ciencias latinoamericanas y Caribe. 

“Ciencia, Tecnologia e Innovacion en la Economia Digital La Situacion de America Latina y El Caribe.” Cepal – Naciones Unidas. Segunda Reunion de la Conferencia de Ciencia, Innocacion y Tic de la Cepal. Sept. 2016. 





Last month an incredibly diverse group of 145 cross-sector Philadelphia leaders traveled to Seattle on the Economy League’s Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange (aka “GPLEX”), to study how the Emerald City works, moves, lives, thrives -- and how it deals with major challenges. The GPLEX cohort included emerging and established leaders from the private, nonprofit, and public sectors -- including senior officials from the Philadelphia airport, SEPTA, and the Kenney administration.

Seattle has incredible wealth and a political system and culture conducive to collaborating to solve public problems. Because Seattle raises revenue primarily by special levies on property, which must be approved at the ballot box, policymakers must present coherent value propositions to the electorate. During a session on transportation, for example, we learned how a coalition of public and private actors made the case for a $54 billion 10-year levy to fund a massive upgrading of transit infrastructure, winning 56 percent of the vote.  

The "Seattle process" involves inclusive, consensus-based decision-making, leading to maximum buy-in for tough policy choices like the imposition of a citywide $15 an hour minimum wage. Labor leader David Rolf of SEIU and business leader Howard Wright of the Seattle Hospitality Group helped us understand how a very broad-based center coalesced around the wage increase, including the role played by well-organized forces at the extremes of the political spectrum in providing incentive for cooperation. In the end, consensus was achieved on the complex compromise that phases in $15 an hour over a multi-year period, with different schedules according to industry and firm size. As Wright noted, he and Rolf didn’t know each other when the process began, but soon realized they shared a fundamental conviction that America’s greatest asset is its middle class and that this asset is under threat like never before, and this has formed the basis of an enduring relationship.

Seattle’s innovative approach to philanthropy is embodied in Social Venture Partners (SVP). Seattle philanthropy encourages failing forward, risk-taking, and innovation. SVP connects private sector CEOs to nonprofits to help them achieve financial stability, develop active and engaged boards, and get them ready to scale. SVP’s Solynn McCurdy was forthright, noting that most foundations were built on social inequality, on the backs of marginalized people, and operate from a position of noblesse oblige, “giving back a little to make themselves feel good,” but the new model is built on ground-up learning and co-creation of initiatives.  

Seattle’s problem-solving political and philanthropic culture are fortuitous, since the city faces some vexing issues. Gentrification is a problem with median housing prices hovering close to $700,000 and a dearth of affordable housing for both low-income and working-class Seattleites. The housing crisis is exacerbated by inadequate transit infrastructure to move workers from where they can afford to live to where the jobs are; like European cities, the suburbs are becoming enclaves of the marginalized, but without European-style mass transit. Seattle has yawning inequality, especially racial inequality, as residents of marginalized communities fight to maintain identity and property in the face of gentrification. And Seattle’s homelessness problems are well-known and particularly acute: the one-day count in 2017 was more than 8,500 in the City of Seattle, a per capita rate 3.5 times greater than Philadelphia’s.  

Yet Seattle has mobilized the political will to tackle big issues like $15 minimum wage and $54 billion in transit funding, and I left feeling like it would apply its can-do, engineering mentality to its housing crisis and closing opportunity gaps.  

What about Greater Philadelphia? First and foremost, the challenges we face are equally daunting to those facing Seattle, but our processes for problem-solving are inadequate at best. In introducing a panel on transportation, Jim Markham of Pennoni noted that in Pennsylvania, much of our transit funding comes from an annual payment from the PA Turnpike of $450 million, but that in a few years, this sum drops to $50 million -- that is, if a lawsuit filed by a truckers association arguing that toll revenues should be spent only on highways doesn’t cut it off earlier. During a panel on innovation in philanthropy, United Way CEO Bill Golderer noted that of the top 50 metros, Philadelphia ranks 43rd in philanthropic giving, 45th in volunteer hours, and 48th in voter participation -- a statistical rendering of “the Philly Shrug,” he said.  Fortunately, Golderer aims to do his part, bringing a chapter of Social Venture Partners to Philadelphia to help him implement to United Way’s mission to address our region’s top challenge, intergenerational poverty.  

At the Economy League, we are ready to get beyond the shrug, beyond “Nega-delphia,” and build on our region’s considerable assets, like our great eds-and-meds institutions, robust transit infrastructure, cultural diversity, relative affordability, emerging tech sector, burgeoning hospitality sector, vibrant downtown. For the first time in decades the City of Philadelphia is growing, schools are back in local control, we are growing jobs and the tax base. Yet we have formidable challenges.

Our cohort of nearly 1,000 emerging and established leaders assembled by the Economy League through GPLEX cuts across all of these sectors, and in the coming months we will be seeking interested partners to tackle our toughest problems and build economic prosperity for all. Our leaders are ready to go.

“The coming together cements us, sharpens our ability to problem solve. The ROI is higher because we get to know Philly’s leadership, our collective self-reliance increases because we know our context.” – Beth Miller, Executive Director, Community Design Collaborative

“You know what’s the most important thing to me? Data. Data I did not have before. I am more informed.” – David Grasso, CEO Grasso Holdings

"I’ve walked away energized and determined to see how I can be part of the solutions that may enable us to apply some of the lessons observed into lessons learned and acted upon." – Michael Mittleman, President, Salus University

It’s time to work together, like Seattle does, to develop a pragmatic center that can find points of common ground and leverage our assets. We need business, labor, philanthropy, and the social sector to build “a Philly process.”


The GPLEX program is built around Regional Explorations, carefully curated deep dives into issues of significance to both Philadelphia and the host city. The Seattle Exchange featured six RegExes: Arts & Community Preservation: the Battle for Seattle’s Soul; Food Waste Innovations: Strengthening People & Preserving the Environment; the Economic & Social Impacts of Washington’s Global Health Sector; South Lake Union: Tech Mecca; Moving Goods and People: SEA-TAC Airport; and Models for Inclusive Redevelopment. GPLEX participant and CEO of the Brandywine Health Foundation Vanessa Briggs reports below on her learnings from the Inclusive Redevelopment excursion.

Seattle’s Models for Inclusive Redevelopment

Seattle’s rapid population growth and runaway housing costs are pushing out long-term residents and communities particularly those that traditionally been home to immigrants and African Americans.  In response, government, philanthropy, developers, and community organizations are working together to create affordable housing and preserve communities so that all residents can be part of the city’s booming economy.

About a third of the 2018 cohort of the Economy League’s Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange (GPLEX) got a first-hand look as they loaded the bus from the Westin Hotel in downtown Seattle to visit and tour Yesler, awaiting to learn how Seattle tackled redevelopment while minimizing re-gentrification. The transformation of Yesler from 2006 to present day is quite spectacular. Yesler is a community comprised of more than 30 acres sitting atop a hill in close proximity to downtown Seattle, in the hub of the job market, public transportation, and beautiful views. 

In order for GPLEXers to truly appreciate the modern designed urban community, Andrews Lofton, Executive Director of Seattle Housing Authority provided some context to how this public housing community will transform from 561 units to more than 5,000 attractive apartments, affordable to residents across a broad range of incomes. What was once the city’s first publicly subsidized housing community is now a new vibrant mixed-income community that honors the neighborhood’s history and cultural richness while meeting the growing needs of its residents.

Yesler’s 1940s-era aging infrastructure is what ignited the SHA to begin conversations with residents, surrounding neighbors, city officials, key partners, and citizens of Seattle to imagine a new community while not displacing residents. The vision for a new Yesler community model was formed. Not only was Seattle able to replace the 561 subsidized public housing units, it doubled the number of units for families earning below 30 percent of the Area Median Income to ensure that all residents living at Yesler at the time redevelopment began have the opportunity to continue to live in their community. Instead of displacing or pushing low-income residents out of their community they gave them a choice to move out of the community or move into a new unit. All residents living at Yesler at the time redevelopment began are covered for related relocation and moving cost and have first priority for apartments in the new housing.      

To meet the growing demand for affordable housing in close proximity to downtown Seattle and to address the onerous land covenants that dictate the construction of single-family homes only, Yesler attempts to meet the needs for people with low and moderate incomes, as well as for those who pay market-rate rents in buildings developed by private partners. 

Some of the amenities at in the community include Yesler Terrace Park currently under construction. It is a 1.8-acre park near the Yesler Community Center in the heart of the neighborhood. The park will have an outdoor fitness loop, community gardening spaces, play spaces for area community fairs and markets, soccer arena, paths and seating for strolling and community gathering.  The Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation manages the planning designing, development and operation of the park and Community Center. Because the space is so inviting and adjacent to other communities, some of the challenges they face include scheduling special activities for Yesler resident’s verses groups or organizations outside of the community requesting use. 

Our last stop of the tour was Yesler Community Center where many of the GPLEXers were interested in learning about the many social service programs, youth focused activities, cultural, and arts events and sports related activities available for all ages.

The Yesler community is a prime example of how a public-private partnership came together to address complex social and economic issues like affordable housing, economic development, and revitalization - along with the ongoing need for social services and community cohesion with the goal of minimizing the type of gentrification that leads to displacement. When comparing Seattle to Philadelphia there are stark differences in affordable housing, the magnitude of homelessness in Seattle, and the availability of jobs for highly skilled workers, yet Philadelphia can glean insight from how Seattle tackled community displacement while still growing the economy and transforming community living and recreation spaces in partnership with community.

Qué entendemos por innovación social

Si hay algo en lo que podemos estar de acuerdo como sociedad global es que necesitamos encontrar nuevas y mejores soluciones para problemas sociales que no habían existido antes y para los problemas sociales de antaño que persisten pero que además siguen mutando cada día. 

También podríamos estar de acuerdo en que los recursos con los que contamos para plantear estas soluciones serán siempre limitados y por lo tanto debemos garantizar que la forma en que invertimos nuestro talento, tiempo, y dinero sea efectiva y transparente. 

Es por esto que se explica que el término innovación ha estado presente cada vez más en la agenda pública, en los discursos, en los artículos académicos, y en los planes de políticas, programas y proyectos orientados hacia conseguir un desarrollo social más inclusivo y justo.

Esta revista, Social Innovations Journal (SIJ)1 propone que entendamos la innovación social como el proceso de individuos y organizaciones enfocado en mejorar productos y servicios que aumenten un impacto social. De acuerdo con SIJ, las innovaciones pueden ser entendidas bajo el término “innovaciones perturbadoras o disruptivas” que originan nuevos mercados de bajo impacto o pequeños puntos de apoyo o bien, innovaciones sostenibles que representan grandes avances o progreso de gran envergadura. 

En el Centro de Innovación Social de Alto Impacto (CISAI) hemos adoptado la definición de Phills y Deiglmeier2 que propone la Escuela de Negocios de Stanford y que habla de innovación social entendida como una solución novedosa a un problema social que es más efectiva, eficiente, y sustentable en comparación con otras soluciones existentes y que generan primordialmente un valor público a favor de la sociedad en su conjunto más que a una instancia privada. 

El CISAI se enfoca en estas innovaciones de gran envergadura que menciona SIJ, y las entiende, de acuerdo a la definición de Buckland y Murillo,  como aquellas innovaciones sociales que tienen evidencia de un impacto social, que son económicamente sustentables, que implican colaboración intersectorial, y que tienen potencial de escalabilidad y replicabilidad3,4.   

Cómo impulsamos la innovación social 

Partiendo de las definiciones complementarias descritas anteriormente, Social Innovations Partners crea la plataforma del Social Innovations Journal como un mecanismo y un espacio para compartir ideas y buenas prácticas, promover ideas innovadoras y provocativas e incubar innovación social y liderazgo de pensamiento (enseñando a los líderes sobre “cómo” pensar y no “qué” pensar) para inspirar y provocar una cultura de innovación que conduzca hacia un mejoramiento del sector de servicios sociales y productos. SIJ sirve entonces en el ecosistema de innovación global como una plataforma y como receptor de ideas, que destaca las innovaciones regionales y las empresas e incentiva a compartir ideas y mejores prácticas a nivel nacional y global. 

Por otro lado, el CISAI es el resultado de la colaboración de instituciones académicas, centros de investigación, e instancias públicas que unen esfuerzos, teniendo como su sede el ITESO Universidad Jesuita en Guadalajara, y tiene como propósito de aportar a la creación de una sociedad más justa a través de la consolidación de los ecosistemas de innovación social -empezando por Jalisco y México pero con una visión global- aprovechando la investigación y la tecnología aplicada como instrumentos de provisión de soluciones efectivas y sostenibles a los retos sociales, económicos y medioambientales de nuestra sociedad actual. 

Nuestra propuesta tiene como puntos de partida la transformación de dinámicas de sistemas, la acción colectiva intersectorial, el enfoque participativo de base comunitaria, y la tecnología como facilitador, todo orientado hacia innovaciones sociales que sean sostenibles, replicables y escalables. Esto lo logramos a través de la generación de conocimiento, el desarrollo de capacidades, la vinculación de actores, y la detonación de proyectos para la creación de soluciones.

México, territorio de posibilidades para la innovación social 

Según el reporte Mapping the World of Social Innovation5 las condiciones de contexto y los factores habilitadores para un ecosistema de innovación social son: una sociedad civil activa e individuos emprendedores e inspirados, financiamiento según las etapas del ciclo de innovación, nuevas tecnologías, redes y plataformas para cooperación entre distintos stakeholders, marco legal de apoyo, sentido de urgencia y cambios políticos6.

En México, podemos encontrar estas condiciones –con sus propios retos por supuesto- que están facilitando la innovación social. El Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo7 (2016), ha reconocido que, en América Latina, México tiene uno de los sistemas de soporte de intermediación y financiamiento para la innovación, además de una interacción fuerte entre los actores clave del ecosistema que tienen a su vez conexiones importantes a nivel internacional. Adicionalmente, existe una población lo suficientemente grande – más de 125 millones de personas – que representan una oportunidad interna de impulsar emprendimientos e innovaciones sociales. 

Desde el sector público, el gobierno mexicano ha creado e impulsado entidades y políticas de apoyo al emprendimiento social y la innovación social. De acuerdo con un estudio realizado por el Foro Consultivo Científico y Tecnológico8 los principales esfuerzos en esta línea se han dado desde la Secretaría de Desarrollo Social (SEDESOL) a través del Instituto Nacional de Desarrollo Social (INDESOL) y la Secretaría de Economía (SE) a través del Instituto Nacional de Economía Social (INAES) y el realizado por organismos autónomos descentralizados, como la Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas (CDI). Pero también desde gobiernos locales hay esfuerzos considerables como el Laboratorio de la Ciudad de México, es el área experimental del Gobierno de la Ciudad de México, y los esfuerzos que desde las Secretarías de Innovación, Ciencia y Tecnología del Estado de Jalisco y de la Ciudad de México se han hecho. 

El sector académico, de investigación y universitario, está convirtiéndose también cada vez más en un motor clave para la innovación. El Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT) que hospeda al INFOTEC, Centro de Investigación e Innovación en Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación que está generando tecnologías con alto potencial para la generación de valor social. La Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) con el Instituto de Energías Renovables, además de la Facultad de Ciencias

Políticas y Sociales (FCPyS), la Escuela Nacional de Trabajo Social (ENTS) y la

Coordinación de Innovación y Desarrollo, que han impulsado la formación en materia de innovación social y la Facultad de Contaduría y Administración (FCA) que cuenta con la Escuela de Emprendedores Sociales.

El Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM) en sus distintas sedes cuenta con el Instituto de Desarrollo Social Sostenible (IDeSS), el Centro para el Desarrollo y Emprendimiento del

Migrante, en Puebla, y el Programa de Innovación Social de la Escuela de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades de los Campus en la Ciudad de México y su reconocimiento por Ashoka como Changemaker Campus en el campus Guadalajara. La Universidad de Monterrey (UdeM) también cuenta con dicho reconocimiento por parte de Ashoka y la Universidad Anáhuac Sur imparte la Maestría en Innovación Social y Participación Ciudadana.

El Sistema Universitario Jesuita en México también tiene un papel relevante en el tema. Sólo por mencionar algunos ejemplos, tenemos la Universidad Iberoamericana en Puebla, que integró el primer ecosistema universitario de innovación con el Laboratorio de Innovación Económica y Social (LAINES), la Universidad Iberoamericana en Ciudad de México cuenta con el Centro de Emprendimiento y Desarrollo Empresarial, y está iniciando un Laboratorio de Innovación para la Seguridad Ciudadana. Por otro lado, el ITESO en Guadalajara, a través del Centro para la Gestión de la Innovación y la Tecnología (CEGINT), la Escuela de Negocios, y ahora el CISAI está haciendo contribuciones importantes al ecosistema local y nacional. 

El sector privado y en específico el ecosistema nacional de inversión de impacto que está aportando el financiamiento y acompañamiento a diversas iniciativas de innovación social se encuentra en una fase de activa configuración y crecimiento. México hospeda anualmente en Mérida el Foro Latinoamericano de Inversión de Impacto (FLII), que es el encuentro más grande de su tipo en la región. México es el único país miembro de habla hispana del Global Social Impact Investment Steering Group y ha establecido recientemente una Alianza por la Inversión de Impacto. Entre los actores clave en este sector encontramos a New Ventures México, AMEXCAP, ANDE, Coca Cola FEMSA, Compromiso Social Banamex, Ignia, Impact Hub, Nacional Monte de Piedad, New Ventures, Promotora Social Mexico, SVX México, CSR and Inclusive Business, FOMIN / ECODES,  y la Asociación de Fondos de Capital, además de individuos comprometidos con estas nuevas formas de empatar la inversión con el impacto social. 

Fundaciones privadas como Fundación Ashoka, Fundación Carlos Slim, Nacional Monte de Piedad,  entre otras, así como iniciativas privadas como Enactus México y Social Enterprise Knowledge Network (SEKN) están fungiendo como puentes de sinergia entre el mundo de los negocios, los emprendedores sociales, y las instancias de generación de conocimiento. 

Por supuesto, en el corazón de este ecosistema tenemos a los innovadores sociales, esos individuos, grupos, colectivos, start ups, empresas de todos tamaños, comunidades de innovación, organizaciones de la sociedad civil sin fines de lucro, espacios de co-working, centros comunitarios, que están ideando, intentando, fallando, adoptando o compartiendo nuevas formas de hacer y de pensar. Ellos son el motor último de la innovación en México. Este segmento del ecosistema es afortunadamente ya tan numeroso que cualquier intento por mencionarlos sería insuficiente. Lo que podríamos decir es que prácticamente no hay ámbito de la vida social en el que no haya al menos una iniciativa mexicana invirtiendo su talento y pasión en crear una solución innovadora. La invitación al lector es que a través del trabajo de los actores mencionados encuentren y conozcan lo que desde México se está aportando.

En esta edición  

Esta edición de la Revista Social Innovations Journal busca precisamente reconocer a aquellos que están en el corazón de la innovación invitándolos a compartir su voz, su experiencia, sus logros, desafíos y frustraciones. Finalmente, este intercambio de compartir y escuchar de otros es lo que abre las puertas a imaginar nuevas posibilidades.  

El lector encontrará iniciativas que se han impulsado desde sociedad civil organizada, empresas sociales, start ups, gobierno, y universidades en los más diversos temas. Aquí una breve descripción de lo que encontrarán en cada uno de los artículos: 



En su modelo educativo el ITESO, Universidad Jesuita de Guadalajara, ha definido algunas competencias comunes para los estudiantes de licenciatura y una de estas competencias es la Innovación y Emprendimiento. Para desarrollar esta competencia, los estudiantes se reúnen en un ecosistema interno que está diseñado desde una óptica envolvente, como un sistema de innovación orientado a la sostenibilidad. Este ecosistema incluye la participación de empresas externas al campus, que plantean retos de innovación social y/o empresarial para los que se busca diseñar una solución específica.  Una de las áreas de oportunidad es la medición de impactos relacionada con la evolución de la intención emprendedora –sostenible- de los estudiantes.



Con el objetivo de promover y fortalecer la cultura de innovación y el ecosistema de emprendimiento de alto impacto en Jalisco, nace el Festival de Innovación Epicentro dentro de la Secretaría de Innovación, Ciencia y Tecnología del gobierno del estado de Jalisco. El propósito principal de Epicentro fue el poder llevar los temas de innovación y tecnología a otros espacios, generar mayores habilidades digitales a los ciudadanos y llevar este tipo de conocimiento a más personas en un esfuerzo denominado “democratizar la innovación”.



En este trabajo se presentan las principales estrategias identificadas por el gobierno, los bancos de alimentos y del sector académico para hacer frente a los principales retos que enfrenta el estado de Jalisco en materia de seguridad alimentaria. Dichas estrategias se están poniendo en marcha en un proyecto de innovación social, financiado por el Fondo Mixto CONACYT-Gobierno del Estado de Jalisco. 



Colmena busca impulsar con nuevas oportunidades de negocio rentables con una perspectiva de economía solidaria. La línea de negocio social Colmena Relax se enfoca en microempresarios masajistas altamente capacitados en diferentes técnicas de masaje y cuya característica, a diferencia de otros, es que cuentan con un alto grado de sensibilidad ya que tienen discapacidad visual. Se unen, por tanto, la necesidad de las empresas de brindar incentivos innovadores para su personal y contribuir a su bienestar integral, y por otro lado el talento, potencial y ganas de crecer que tienen los masajistas con discapacidad visual. 



El ITESO en el 2004 crea los Proyectos de Aplicación Profesional (PAP) que están orientados a la intervención o transformación de problemáticas sociales específicas, mediante trabajos disciplinares, interdisciplinares, multidisciplinares o transdisciplinares que impliquen una aportación social (…). Proyectos que pretenden capitalizar las experiencias institucionales acumuladas que las distintas instancias del ITESO han generado en torno al compromiso social.  



HelKi tiene por misión mejorar la cultura y practica del desarrollo infantil temprano en México, siendo la red de apoyo  para padres y cuidadores de primera infancia, habilitándolos para el desarrollo óptimo por medio del apego seguro y vínculos afectivos con el fin de crear soluciones humanas, innovadoras e inclusivas de alta calidad que sean herramientas de desarrollo para la construcción social, su prosperidad y sostenibilidad.



En este artículo Janette Casas, fundadora de Mexi-HA nos comparte cómo ésta empresa social está aportando a la inclusión en comunidades de primeras raíces a través de la comercialización de productos con decoración de arte popular y el servicio de eventos (voluntariados y festivales). La iniciativa promueve también el cuidado medioambiental promoviendo el uso de alternativas al plástico.



El sistema MIAF es un sistema agroforestal de cultivo intercalado, constituido por tres especies, en intensa interacción agronómica y que tiene como propósitos, la producción de maíz y frijol como elementos estratégicos para la seguridad alimentaria de las familias rurales, incrementar de manera significativa el ingreso neto familiar, incrementar el contenido de materia orgánica, controlar la erosión hídrica del suelo y con ello lograr un uso más eficiente del agua de lluvia. 



En enero de 2017 Corporativa de Fundaciones de Jalisco gracias a un donante impulsor de la iniciativa, decide hacer una convocatoria cerrada a un grupo de asociaciones con el título ¿Tú qué harías con un Ferrari? y las invita a responder la pregunta: ¿cómo le sacarías el mayor provecho a un Ferrari si te lo regalaran para tu Asociación? explicando las razones por las que cada asociación debería ser seleccionada en la convocatoria, así como el destino que se le daría a los fondos.  Ganaría la respuesta más innovadora. La propuesta ganadora fue aquella que planteó compartir con otras diez asociaciones participantes para potencializar el valor del Ferrari y formar QUIRIVA, una red de once asociaciones civiles de Guadalajara unidas bajo la premisa de que Compartir es mejor que Competir. 

Reflexión de cierre  

México es un país de contrastes: el mercado nacional está atrayendo inversiones que propician el crecimiento económico y al mismo tiempo tenemos millones de personas con empleos de baja calidad o en la informalidad. Existen instancias de gobierno que están impulsando al interior y al exterior la innovación y el emprendimiento, y al mismo tiempo hay otras instancias públicas atrapadas en la corrupción y en el uso indebido e ineficiente de sus recursos. Tenemos gran diversidad y riqueza de recursos naturales, y al mismo tiempo pobres mecanismos para su protección y rescate que permiten su explotación y degradación. Hay talento y creatividad en las nuevas generaciones, y un sistema educativo que muchas veces obstruye su potencial. 

En particular, el ecosistema de innovación social en México tiene aún retos que resolver: mejores mecanismos de cooperación y comunicación, un mejor acceso a recursos en tiempo y forma adecuada para impulsar la innovación, un marco regulatorio coherente y promotor, y enfrentar la corrupción en todos los niveles de gobierno9.

Lejos de ser un impedimento, estos contrastes son los que en última instancia motivan a los innovadores sociales, que ponen su energía en decir cómo sí se puede, cómo ante estos retos podemos combinar la tecnología, la imaginación, los negocios, la ciencia para brincar esas barreras y llevar a nuestro país por un rumbo mejor. 

Esperamos que los casos y las reflexiones que aquí se presentan contribuyan a este intercambio posibilidades. 


1 Social Innovations Journal, Presentación (SIJ, 2018).

2 Phills Jr., Deiglmeier, Miller, Rediscovering Social Innovation, (Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2008) 

3 Buckland, H. y Murillo, D. La Innovación Social en América Latina. Marco conceptual y agentes. Instituto de Innovación social. (ESADE, 2014) Recuperado en

4 Buckland, H. y Murillo, D. Antena de Innovación Social. Vías hacia el cambio sistémico. Ejemplos y variables para la innovación social. (ESADE, 2013) Recuperado en

Social Innovation: Driving Force of Social Change. Mapping the World of Social Innovation: Key Results of a Comparative Analysis of 1.005 (Social Innovation Initiatives at a Glance, 2016). Disponible en:

6 Silva F., Martha; Tognola P., Joyce; Camacho A., Karla; Rodríguez A., Agustín Rodríguez Ake; Garza S., Alejandro; Pozos P., María del Pilar. Estado del Arte. (CISAI, 2018)

7 Inter-American Development Bank y Fundación Ecología y Desarrollo, Study of social entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems in the Latin American Pacific Alliance countries: country analysis: Mexico. (Inter-American Development Bank, 2016)  

8 Foro Consultivo Científico y Tecnológico A.C., Ecosistema de Innovación Social en México, (FCCyT, 2016).

9 Inter-American Development Bank y Fundación Ecología y Desarrollo, Study of social entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems in the Latin American Pacific Alliance countries: country analysis: Mexico. (Inter-American Development Bank, 2016)  


Ashoka launched the field of social entrepreneurship in 1980, and today it is the largest global association of social entrepreneurs. This article provides an overview for the journal issue that focuses on insights from Ashoka’s Global Impact Study of its network of social entrepreneurs with the following 10 articles ranging from regional, gender, sector, and subject matter analyses. Over the last decade, new technologies have enabled transformations in communications, media, and financial systems that have accelerated the pace of change and radically opened new means for citizen participation. In this context, social entrepreneurship has become a globally recognized practice, welcoming corporate, university, and government participation in the movement previously dominated by the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. This article summarizes pioneering insights of Ashoka that serve as the foundation for the field, and it updates our thinking on the impact of our Fellows based on evidence from our most comprehensive survey of our global network of 3,500 social entrepreneurs in 92 countries. These data confirm the core framework for Ashoka's current vision of realizing an Everyone a Changemaker world. 

Social Entrepreneurship is Transformative: Scaling it to Address New Challenges Requires an Everyone a Changemaker world 

By any measure, the idea of social entrepreneurship as a way to spread effective social change for the good of all, and to address the world’s most pressing problems, has been successful. It is not an overstatement to say that, since Bill Drayton coined the phrase in the early 1980’s, social entrepreneurship as a movement has been deeply influential in philanthropy, academia, major global corporations, government, and other institutions. Consider:  

  • Entire publications such as this journal and Stanford Social Innovation Review, among others, are devoted to social entrepreneurs’ solutions that are working. The New York Times’ weekly on-line column “Fixes” by David Bornstein, and the organization he founded, Solutions Journalism, continue to engage journalists and practitioners to report on systems-changing solutions that are working to move the needle on previously entrenched social problems. And social entrepreneurs themselves are writing books each year to tell their inspiring stories of how change happens. 
  • Governments are looking to social entrepreneurs for new policy ideas and for transformational leadership. In the United States, we saw the establishment of the White House Office of Social Innovation and the Social Innovation Fund. In the European Union the Social Impact Fund was created, and the United Kingdom led the way in the developing the concept of social impact bonds. 
  • The World Economic Forum and the Skoll World Forum regularly feature social entrepreneurs and their ideas. More corporate CEOs are finding that working with social entrepreneurs and young changemakers fuels their ability to see the future differently (See Mourot in this issue.) 
  • In the last 15 years, universities have moved from offering courses in social entrepreneurship and innovation to degree programs and Centers of Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In addition, university presidents, provosts, and donors understand that these programs offer critical opportunities to prepare the next generation of leaders. Students gain a competitive edge in participating in these offerings, and universities are adding them as a means to recruit the best and brightest. 
  • Finally, the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Mohammed Yunus has been followed by subsequent Nobel awards to Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi in 2014 -- all three social entrepreneurs with systems-changing ideas. Many other prizes, including the MacArthur, Goldman Environmental Prize, Skoll, Echoing Green, and Schwab all feature social entrepreneurs. Foundations large and small, including MasterCard, Gates, Ford, MacArthur, and Rockefeller, have all given awards or grants to social entrepreneurs.

Early on Ashoka estimated that only one in 10 million individuals has a systems-changing vision and the lifetime personal commitment to realize that vision. Meanwhile, the rate of change in the world is simply increasing too fast for the relatively few numbers of social entrepreneurs to tackle alone the challenges we are facing and the ones we will be facing soon. The old world is crumbling, and we need to quickly retool for what is coming. Rapid technological change, in creating mistrust of our national and global institutions, fraying (and in many cases tearing) of the postwar consensus on overarching social values such as tolerance, rule of law, liberalism, and even truth itself, the exponential rise of artificial intelligence, ethnic, and other nationalisms -- not to mention the growing existential threat to the human race of climate change --  will soon create a world characterized by a “new inequality.” The long-standing inequalities of wealth, race, gender, geography, education, and social status will persist, but they will be overlaid by a new inequality between individuals, institutions, communities, and nations that have the ability to drive the changes that are coming and those that will be steamrollered over by it. If we under-stand its dimensions and seize the opportunities it creates, this new framework can be a vital tool for addressing these long-standing inequalities in a transformative way. 

Therefore, we need to build the specific skillset of every individual to be able to function in a world of constant change, what Ashoka calls the Everyone a Changemaker world -- a world where every young person masters the skills of empathy, leadership, teamwork, and changemaking, and where every individual has the ability to identify social problems and create positive change.  

In the pages that follow, we glean key insights and themes that have emerged based on the experience of Ashoka Fellows, our network of social entrepreneurs, over the past 40 years. The articles in this volume plumb the data gathered in an extensive study comprised of survey and interviews conducted by Ashoka over the past several months and validated by LUISS University in Rome. The results present a rich portrait of the ways in which Ashoka Fellows have learned what it takes to thrive and succeed in rapidly changing contexts. More importantly, the data show us how they act as role models to inspire others to see that change is possible, and how they grow others’ changemaking skills by offering a myriad of roles for many more to participate in the change process.    

Social entrepreneurs are the critical ingredient in the changemaking ecosystem. Their experience and their example are precisely what informs the conclusion that we need to build an Everyone a Changemaker world. In every field and geographic context, their innovations chart the how-to steps for stakeholders ranging from policymakers to social activists and university faculty. Their continued participation is vital to achieving that goal and once again to help us see what comes next. Accordingly, I want to focus briefly on Ashoka’s history and the evolution of our movement to further set the context for the results of this study.

Building the Field of Social Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurs are the driving force of Ashoka’s past, present, and future. Yet, their role in Ashoka’s journey has evolved over time. Ashoka’s pathway for building the social entrepreneur-ship movement is comprised of four main stages. In the first stage, in the 1980’s, Ashoka focused on defining the qualities of truly leading social entrepreneurs and proving the concept that investing in them was an efficient way to generate large-scale impact. At the time, the term “social entrepreneur” did not even exist in the public lexicon. Ashoka demonstrated with example after example that social entrepreneurs have existed across history, cultures, and geography, and therefore that the concept had resonance globally. The name “social entrepreneur” offered an identity and the community we call “The Ashoka Fellowship” -- the world’s first professional association of social entrepreneurs -- was designed to support these individuals’ ability to persist in their changemaking for the good of all.1 It is in this stage that Greg Dees pioneered the academic field first at Yale School of Management then with the first known course on social entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School. Dees later launched the Center at Stanford Business School and then the Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Duke Business School in 2001. In this same period Jed Emerson began writing on social enterprise, a different endeavor. Even today social enterprise gets confused with social entrepreneurship -- see Ganz, et al 2018.2 (Osberg and Martin’s article from 20073 is the definitive discussion which Zakaras adds to in his 2018 response to Ganz,’ et al.4 Zakaras agrees with Ganz that social enterprise is not necessarily social change, then makes the important distinction that social entrepreneurship is not the same as social enterprise.)

In the second stage, new proven solutions created demand for new philanthropic models to spread what works. Ashoka’s work inspired other organizations and investors. In the 1990’s, Ashoka spread from its initial work in South and Southeast Asia to Latin America, Africa, and Central Europe. We shared our learning with Echoing Green, Omidyar, Skoll, and Schwab, all of whom were looking for highly leveraged ways to invest in big change. They, along with others, listened and added enormous fuel to the movement in the form of ideas, funding, and visibility through numerous collaborations and touch points with Ashoka’s team, its Fellows, and its broader network contributing to an ecosystem of support for social entrepreneurs. This phase of knowledge sharing spurred a kind of “wholesale” replication of the concept of social entrepreneurship where many organizations began independently replicating both financial and non-financial support to social entrepreneurs. Within Ashoka’s network, it was very early 1990 that we first recognized how social entrepreneurs were offering new roles to young people and others as changemakers5 and that doing so was key to spreading their ideas and social change efforts. And we built ties to the Corporate sector to bring added resources and ideas, as well as to expose this sector to the commitment and creativity of social entrepreneurs. 

By the early to mid-2000’s, stage three was underway. We continued to expand geographically to new regions including Western Europe and the Middle East. Social entrepreneurship as a field was catapulted into a new level of awareness in the world by David Bornstein’s seminal book, How to Change the World, which featured the work of Ashoka and many of its Fellows and has been translated into more than 30 languages. Ashoka’s recognition that our social entrepreneurs offer roles to young people and others to grow their changemaking muscles inspired Ashoka to launch our Youth Venture and Changemakers competitions as new ways to spread these ideas globally with partners on multiple continents and representing a wide variety of fields. And new geographies brought new innovations to our network that then spread globally. For instance, the Ashoka Support Network founded by an Ashoka staff member in the United Kingdom now has members from around the global who engage directly with social entrepreneurs to support their work. And university professors and administrators asked for advice to answer demand from students asking for resources which we answered with Ashoka’s network of Changemaker Universities and Ashoka U. 

By the late 2000’s, Ashoka built a robust global network of leading social entrepreneurs. Follow-ing our Fellows’ examples, Ashoka invited other changemakers to join us. We could see how social entrepreneurs practice a new style of leadership that enables everyone to lead -- that their constant iterative engagement with the people involved in the issues they seek to solve puts “beneficiaries” in the role of co-creator and collaborators. Ashoka Fellows serve not only as role models for those who want to make positive change in the world, but also actively recruit changemakers to get the work done and ensure it endures. Through the lens of our Fellows, we saw the world differently: one where each and every person has the power to drive change. And the way they do so is by practicing empathy, new leadership, teamwork, and changemaking. This is what an Everyone a Changemaker world looks like. 

Today, social entrepreneurs have both a name and a recognized place in society. Ashoka’s pioneering role in building the field and creating the largest association of social entrepreneurs --Ashoka Fellows -- has directly served millions around the world. But beyond that, countless more have spread their ideas thanks to the numerous pathways Ashoka’s ideas and work has created for investors, partners, and influencers to contribute to the broader social good. In this fourth stage Ashoka continues to invest in finding and supporting a growing number of Ashoka Fellows, adding more than 100 per year and bringing them into our expanded network of change leaders. Ashoka benefits from the opportunity to constantly be looking for the cutting edge social innovations globally, with teams on the ground in 38 countries whose role is to do just this. As a result, Ashoka has a unique bird’s-eye view not of problems but solutions -- a sort of epidemiologist for solutions sets. Across fields and geographies, we see a common pattern: Social entrepreneurs close inequality gaps by cultivating changemakers to continue to advance a world in which everyone is a changemaker. (See Wells and Sankaran 2016 for examples of our social entrepreneurs employing and building these skills in their own institutions and movements).6  

Measuring Impact 

From its beginning Ashoka has sought to understand the what and how of its Fellows’ impact and how Ashoka can best support them and change for the good of all more broadly. In 1998, Ashoka launched a periodic study of our social entrepreneurs’ impact to see if those in our network were having the quality of impact our selection process was designed to produce. We also sought to understand what kind of impact Ashoka’s efforts had on their work. Doing so required designing a study to measure systems change. We began to track independent replication; policy change, and persistence as approximate measures of systems change and to test how our network was faring against these measures. In 2006 we published an article in ARNOVA about this re-porting system and the pattern that our findings over several years revealed.7 A lot has happened over the last two decades since we started: social entrepreneurship has become a globally recognized practice, and we have seen radical changes in new technology fueling revolutions in finance and communications-media which have accelerated the pace of change as well as enabled broad citizen participation. New sectors have joined the movement. Our own network of Fellows has more than doubled since 2006, and as a result we continue to learn about the how-to of social change across 92 countries and all fields of social need. Based on what we have learned over this time, our strategy has evolved and while consistent measures do offer an important perspective on patterns over time, our understanding of impact has also evolved as we learn what members of our network are doing. 

While speaking to groups I have frequently gotten the question from skeptical audience members asking me to name one social entrepreneur who has “really scaled.” While there are similarities between the business entrepreneur and the social entrepreneur there is also a fundamental difference: The social entrepreneur is motivated to ensure that the solution is in the hands of the people who need it. For them, therefore, success is determined by idea spread, not by size of budget, staff, nor shareholder earnings.8 In our most recent study only 12 percent of those surveyed re-ported that their sole revenue was from the sale of products and services. One can imagine a radically different sized budget number needed to account for return on investment to account for all the resources expended by external entities which independently replicated the idea. My favorite example to illustrate this is Florence Nightingale. Nightingale is largely credited with creating the nursing profession, it was during her work with soldiers in the Crimean war where she recognized soldiers were dying due to infectious disease rather than wounds and introduced radical changes. Nightingale did build a nursing school but had no marketing machinery or branding crediting her with the idea; there were no shareholders whom she made wealthy. And yet her ideas around infectious disease control, hospital epidemiology, and hospice care revolutionized the medical industry and remain relevant today even in the face of radical advances in medicine and the extraordinary rapid changes in technology and social life in the last century since she left us.9

Unlike business, there still is no uniform standard for social impact. David Bonbright’s Keystone concept of “constituent voice” made an important contribution even before the technology and media revolutions which provided the rocket fuel enabling the widespread business practice of today bombarding customers with requests for customer feedback.10 Constituent voice, however, recognizes that customer feedback and program delivery satisfaction are very different from measures of long term social change which may be invisible or horribly uncomfortable for those experiencing needed changes for the good of all.  

Ashoka’s latest view of impact has also sharpened and is articulated in the chart below. While many organizations in the sector expend vast resources to count direct service -- relatively few have focused on how to assess system change or framework change.11 Ashoka has been focused on system change since the 1990’s and today, also on measuring framework change. 


What Does the Evidence Say?

This journal issue highlights some of the data from our global study, supporting our strategy, our programming and, I hope, the field more generally.  

In 2018 more than 850 Ashoka Fellows from 74 countries took part in a Global Fellows Study designed to understand their impact as well as the role Ashoka has had in contributing to that impact. We do not know of a more diverse database of social entrepreneurs in the world. 

The paragraphs which follow present a summary of some of the results; please find a more in-depth analysis of our findings in the articles to follow in this issue (referenced below).

The Data Set Represents a Diverse Group of Fellows in Various Sectors and Geographies

Of the 858 responses, 42 percent were women, 57 percent were male, and one percent identified as “other gender identity.” This distribution is representative of Ashoka’s overall network. The respondents focus on a wide variety of population groups including people living in poverty (55 percent), women (48 percent), and people with disabilities (25 percent). The Fellow respondents also represented a variety of business models, with 32 percent reporting that they received no revenue from selling products or services, and 12 percent reporting that they received all of their revenue from selling products or services.

LUISS University’s article in this issue analyzed Fellows’ diverse sectors of work by geography in order to explore whether Fellows’ focus areas were aligned with the priorities set by the World Bank and other international bodies. Their robust framework is easily transferable to other organizations working in the civil society sector.   

Fellows Generate Systems Change that Sticks

Ashoka’s view of system change is emergent and context-dependent. It is open to a whole array of system elements as well as how they interact -- including but not limited to public policy, industry norms, changes in market systems, building new professions, how different systems interact, etc. Ashoka learns with each social entrepreneurs’ journey not simply the issues relevant in each geography where that entrepreneur is working, but the how-to’s of strategy as well as the skills required and support needed for building leadership for deep and lasting positive change.   

Our metrics to measure systems change have evolved since we first conducted this study in 1998, and include: independent replication, public policy change, market change, and shifting mind-sets. As Sara Wilf details in her article in this issue, 90 percent of Fellows report having seen their idea replicated by independent groups or institutions, 93 percent reporting having changed markets and/or public policy, and 97 percent report that their strategy focuses on mindset shift.  

Systems change often necessitates many different strategies targeting a diverse array of stake-holders, demonstrated by Fellows’ reported partnerships. 86 percent of Fellows report partnering with other citizen sector organizations, 72 percent with universities, and 61 percent with for-profit companies. As Arnaud Mourot details in his article, the corporate sector is learning from Fellows’ partnerships with companies by leveraging their work to rethink business to include social benefit long term.      

Ashoka is a Powerful Accelerator for Fellows’ Impact

In this study Fellows report that Ashoka has had a substantial impact on their work -- from validating their identity as a social entrepreneur, to providing mission-critical financing, in the early stages of their venture, to offering access to a global network and strategic support. 

A core principle which Ashoka got right from the beginning, is the discipline of applying clear criteria to a disciplined selection process. Every Ashoka Fellow elected has passed a five-stage selection process where at each of the five stages the criteria has been met. Ashoka has never been prescriptive of the how-to’s of getting to system change nor prescriptive about the time horizon for getting there. The selection process is designed to be predictive and recognizes that big change does not happen overnight which is why we recognize that we need to assess a life time pattern of persistence. As Alessandro Valera explores in his article), 92 percent of Ashoka Fellows reported that the stipend helped them focus full-time on their idea and several Fellows in the interviews confirmed that this early stage funding was “mission critical.” In addition, extremely high percentages of Fellows report that Ashoka had an influence on their thinking and how they practice leadership, and perhaps most importantly, that their strategy or behavior changed as a result. All told, 84 percent of Fellows agreed that Ashoka had helped increase their impact.

Maria Clara Pinheiro and Dina Sheriff detail in their article how Ashoka creates an ecosystem of support for Fellows and our entire network of partners. Fellows in the study reported that they gained a wide variety of ecosystem supports from Ashoka staff, partners, and other Fellows -- from strategic guidance and mentorship to new funding connections and wellbeing support.  

Beyond interactions with Ashoka staff, Fellows report high rates of collaboration with other Fellows and partners. This is no surprise as we have heard for decades that Ashoka’s Fellowship (the global network of Fellows) has been a key source of support in allowing social entrepreneurs to persist through times of challenge. The data shows that 74 percent of Fellows have collaborated with at least one other Fellow, with an average of four peer collaborations per Fellow globally. Reem Rahman’s article reviews Fellows’ collaboration habits through case studies and explores how collaboration is key to systems change. It also speaks to a view of leadership that builds social capital and trust.13 

The Study Has Surfaced Insights That Point to New Opportunities Moving Forward

Claire Fallender and Ross Hall explore how findings from this study around Fellows’ young changemaking experiences and influences in childhood are critical to Ashoka’s LeadYoung strategy and our Everyone a Changemaker mission. We see in this data that exercising a muscle of changemaking while young lays a foundation for life. It enables young people to gain more comfort with being uncomfortable -- a critical survival skill in this rapidly changing world. With new evidence validating our strategy (such as half of surveyed Fellows report leading a changemaking initiative under the age of 21), Fallender and Hall explain the incredible opportunity to create a world in which every young person has mastered changemaking skills for the social good.  

Using data from this study on Fellows’ young changemaking experiences, Michael Gordon and Sara Wilf’s article create a comparison with a non-Fellow group to examine any differences. They find that there is a substantial difference both in Fellows’ first changemaking experience and childhood influences and express the need for more research into how changemaking experiences in childhood may affect adult outcomes and achievements.

Irene Wu supplements these results with a case study on young changemaking in the East Asian context. She demonstrates how East Asian Fellows’ young changemaking experiences and strategies to promote youth changemaking in their ventures differs from Fellows in other geographies. Kenny Clewett’s article is also a case study, albeit on a new trend emerging from Fellows’ work around migration and refugees. While his case study focuses on migration in the European context, he provides recommendations and insights that can be applied in other geographies as well.

Finally, Iman Bibars’ analyzes the Fellows’ impact results by gender to identify and examine a complex web of factors that may lead to impact differences for male and female Fellows. We see social entrepreneurship has created a remarkable space for women to lead -- what other sector can boast women leading institutions they founded and pursuing ideas they authored at a rate of 40 percent? Her article is a powerful call to redefine “success” in scaling asking us to examine the merits of scaling deep.

A Note on Methodology

The 2018 Global Fellows Study used a "mixed-methods" approach which incorporated both quantitative and qualitative research methodology. Of the 50 questions in the survey 47 were close-ended, enabling a purely quantitative analysis. We piloted the survey with a small group of Fellows in April. The survey was modified according to their suggestions, and any additional questions were incorporated into the qualitative interviews. LUISS University in Rome conduct-ed an audit of our data and fully validated the data and methodology. 

The online survey was available to all Fellows for five weeks from May through June 2018. It was distributed to 3,363 Fellows through a combination of automated emails from Qualtrics and Dotmailer, as well as personal communications from Ashoka staff across the globe. No survey question was a force-response, and all Fellows were given the option to remain anonymous. The survey was available in 12 languages corresponding with the linguistic diversity of Ashoka’s Fellowship. In terms of accessibility, we offered Fellows without reliable internet connection in their area or other physical constraints (such as blindness) to take the survey by phone. 

Overall, the survey received 858 unique respondents (26 percent of our Fellowship population) representing input from Fellows in 74 countries. The highest response rate came from Europe, with 34 percent of their Fellows, and the lowest from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), which represents 17 percent of their Fellows. 62 percent of surveys were completed in half an hour or less, and 79 percent were completed in 1 hour or less. 

43 Fellows were selected for one-hour qualitative interviews from a randomized sample of respondents to the survey. This sample was also representative in terms of gender and geographic location. The interviews were scheduled and conducted from June through August 2018.

Limitations of the study include potential selection bias, the survey emails going to Fellows’ spam, and the self-reported nature of the study. We did attempt to validate certain aspects of Fellows’ response (such as policy/legislative change) and verified the authenticity of any outlier response to numerical questions. In order to determine the extent of any potential “extreme opinion” bias we ran a test comparing Fellows who responded to the survey in the beginning and the end of the distribution period. We found no significant difference in these two groups’ opinions towards Ashoka in the survey, and concluded that extreme opinion bias was likely not an influencing factor in survey response. 


It is increasingly clear that governments, corporations, philanthropy, and individual citizens alone cannot solve the world’s most pressing problems. In a world where the rate of change is ever increasing, we need more people with big ideas and the tools and competencies to work effectively across fields and sectors to realize answers together. Ashoka finds our social entrepreneurs and the patterns across our broad network to be predictive of future trends charting a path-way to where the world is going. Ashoka sees a new generation of young people who want to create change for good as part of their professional lives. 40 years ago, this professional pathway simply did not exist. It took Ashoka years to develop a way to find and bring to light those entrepreneurial innovators who were putting positive impact for the good of all before everything else. By definition, these social entrepreneurs were living the problem so deeply that they came to understand both the systems driving the problem and the key levers to solve it. And they were perceived by many, including their own families, to be either crazy, dangerous, or both. And in many countries today, this is still the case. 

In those early years of building the profession, these systems-changing social entrepreneurs were the vanguards for social change. Not because of an idea alone but in the way they achieved their impact. When looking at the network of Ashoka Fellows in aggregate, Ashoka sees that what matters most in how well and how far impact is achieved is not the size of one’s budget, nor the number of those directly served. Rather it is idea spread: how many people are collectively en-gaged in achieving that impact through independent replication of the ideas, insights, and how to’s.  Success in terms of impact also hinges on how well these social entrepreneurs attract and build teams with other entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial leaders across sectors. In other words, the most effective social entrepreneurs are those whose models help everyone be problem-solvers. This is the insight which has led to Everyone a Changemaker and enabled Ashoka to develop a road map to getting there. 


Even in just the last decade, the world has shifted significantly. The rapid pace of change and the level of connectivity across geographies and diverse groups is unparalleled. Fellows continue to deeply live the problems they address and in order to succeed in big change they must have earned the trust from the communities they serve. Through Ashoka Fellows, Ashoka now has a deeper understanding of what it takes for people to lead and thrive in a world where so much change is happening. Ashoka sees that being able to understand the emotional state of another person (empathy) and change behavior as a result is critical to functioning in a team that is not governed simply by hierarchy and rules. The recipe for success includes practicing empathy and experience working in teams in which all are empowered. Leadership in Ashoka’s Everyone a Changemaker World requires recognizing and enabling agency directed toward the good of all. It is this foundation from which people can change their own lives and the lives of those close to them from an authentic, trust-based way. Trust inspires trust and enables ordinary people to do extraordinary things. 


This critical insight is what we have learned from social entrepreneurs themselves and what has guided Ashoka’s strategic shift in the last decade. However effective individual social entrepreneurs are, and however strong our movement of social entrepreneurship may be, it is not enough if we are to avoid the crisis of the new inequality. To really bring our work to scale, to truly have idea spread go viral, we need to give young people command over the changemaking skill set. As friends, parents, aunts, uncles, educators, and caregivers to young people, we can be part of the movement to change what our education systems value. Young people, whether in the U.S. or Brazil or Sri Lanka, need to know and feel what it means to co-lead teams and empower others to address a problem that they are living. They need this just as much as math and reading skills. Having this young experience as a changemaker may not mean a career as a social entrepreneur. But it will enable us to address the challenges emerging from our rapidly changing world and to close the emerging inequality gap. And we do know it is a fundamental skill for anyone to thrive, whether they are going to lead change from within business or government, teach in a classroom, discover a new cure, write computer code, travel in space, succeed as an athlete, or support a social entrepreneur’s organization. And when young people behave this way, they inspire us to do more of the same, so that together we really can realize an Everyone a Change-maker world.

This issue of the Social Innovations Journal was curated by Diana Wells, Alessandro Val-era, Sara Wilf, and Terry Donovan.

Works Cited

1 Bornstein, David. How to change the world: Social entrepreneurs and the power of new ideas. Oxford University Press, 2007.

2 Marshall Ganz, Tamara Kay and Jason Spicer. “Social Enterprise is not Social Change.” Stanford Social Innovation Review (Spring 2018).

3 Martin, Roger L., and Sally Osberg. Social entrepreneurship: The case for definition. Vol. 5. No. 2. Stanford, CA: Stanford social innovation review, 2007.

4 Zakaras, Michael. “Is Social Entrepreneurship being Misunderstood?” Medium (April 16, 2018). 

5 Barone, Michael. What Does ‘change maker’ mean? Washington Examiner Magazine (July 27, 2016).

6 Wells, Diana and Supriya Sankaran. “New Paradigm for Leadership - Everyone Leads.” Next Billion (December 26, 2016). 

7 Leviner, Noga and Leslie Crutchfield, Diana Wells  “Understanding the Impact of Social Entrepreneurs: Ashoka’s Answer to the Challenge of Measuring Effectiveness,” Research on Social Entrepreneurship: Understanding and Contributing to an Emerging Field ARNOVA Occasional Paper Series-Volume 1, No 3) Rachel Mosher-Williams ed 2006.

8 McPhedran, Jon and Roshan Paul Scaling Social Impact When Everyone Contributes, Every-body Wins Vol 6, 2.

9 Gill, Christopher and Gillian Gill. “Nightingale in Scutari: Her Legacy Reexamined.” Clinical Infectious Diseases Vol 40: 12, July 15, 2005. 

10 Proctor, Andre, and David Bonbright. "Keystone Accountability and Constituent." Harnessing the Power of Collective Learning: Feedback, accountability and constituent voice in rural development(2016): 83.

11 Meadows, Donella Thinking in Systems: A Primer. Chelsea Green Publishing 2008

12 Beverly Schwartz shares wonderful, in-depth case studies  in:
Schwartz, Beverly. Rippling: How social entrepreneurs spread innovation throughout the world. John Wiley & Sons, 2012.   See also:  Crutchfield, Leslie R. How Change Happens: Why Some Social Movements Succeed While Others Don't. John Wiley & Sons, 2018; Martin, Roger and Sally Osberg Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works.  Harvard Business Review Press 2015; 

13 For more on this see Praskier, Ryzard and Andrzej Nowak Social Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice Cambridge University Press 201. 

Author bio

As President of Ashoka for the last twelve years, Diana Wells has led Ashoka's global expansion and significant increase in the number of Fellows, helping to shape overall strategy and operations. She implemented one of the first standard assessment tools for systems change impact. Ms. Wells has a Ph.D in anthropolgy from NYU, and she was named a Fulbright and a Woodrow Wilson Scholar. She received a BA from Brown University, where she now serves as a Trustee of the Brown Corporation.

How Do We Understand Social Innovation? 

As a global society, we can agree on the fact that we need to find new and better solutions for social problems. Some of those problems have never existed before, and some other issues have been around for an extended period of time, and are in constant evolution. 

We might also agree that the available resources to design and implement needed solutions will always be limited, and therefore, we need to guarantee that the way we invest talent, time, and resources, in general, is the most effective and transparent. 

Because of the need for solutions, the concept of “innovation” is widely present at the public agenda, within academic articles, and in policies, programs, and projects aimed at promoting a more inclusive and fair social system. 

Social Innovations Journal (SIJ)1 understands social innovation as a process of individuals and organizations focused on products and services improvement to achieve a higher social impact. According to SIJ, innovations could be defined as “disruptive” when they generate new markets with low impact or specific leverage points. While other innovations are sustainable and represent considerable advances or high impact progress. 

At the Center for High Impact Social Innovation (CISAI) we have adopted the Phills and Deiglmeier2 definition of innovation proposed by the Stanford Business School. This definition conceives innovation as a novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than existing solutions and for which the value created accrues primarily to society as a whole rather than private individuals.    

CISAI aims to promote those innovations with high impact mentioned by SIJ, characterized according to Buckland and Murillo, as innovations with evidence of social impact, that are economically sustainable, that require inter-sectoral collaboration, or collective impact, and with scalability and replicability potential.3,4   

How SIJ and CISAI contribute to Social Innovation

Starting from the definition mentioned above, Social Innovations Partners launches the Social Innovations Journal platform as a mechanism and a space to share ideas and good practices, to promote innovative and disruptive ideas. SIJ seeks to incubate social innovations and encourage the leadership of thought -- by sharing with leaders “how” to think and not “what” to think -- to inspire and strengthen the innovation culture. SIJ contributes to the global innovation ecosystem as a facilitator platform to receive ideas, with emphasis on regional dynamics and business to share and promote best ideas and practices at the national and global level.  

On the other side of this collaboration, CISAI is the result of the synergy of an academic institution, research centers, and public agencies joining forces. CISAI has its head office at ITESO, Jesuit University in Guadalajara, and seeks to contribute to social justice through social innovation and the social innovation ecosystem consolidation, with Jalisco as its starting point but with a national, regional, and global perspective.  

CISAI takes the advantages of applied research and technology development as instruments to create compelling and sustainable solutions to complex social, economic, and environmental challenges. CISAI methodology is based on systems’ dynamic transformations, intersectoral collective action, community-based participatory approach, and technology as an enabler and not the final purpose, all orientated towards replicable and scalable innovations. Our main action lines are knowledge generation, capacity building, stakeholders’ networks, and concrete projects to create and implement solutions. 

México, Land of Possibilities for Social Innovation 

According to Mapping the World of Social Innovation 5 there are some conditions and factors that enable a social innovation ecosystem. First, active civil society, entrepreneurs, and inspired individuals, proper funding options for every stage of the innovation cycle; new technologies, networks, and platforms to facilitate cooperation among the stakeholders; supporting legal framework; the sense of urgency, and political changes going on6.

In Mexico, we can find those conditions -- with different levels of challenges for each -- that are enabling social innovation within the country. The Inter-American Development Bank7 recognized that in Latin America, Mexico has one of the most robust support systems for innovation intermediation and financing, and an active interaction among crucial stakeholders with good international connections. Additionally, Mexico has a large enough population -- more than 125 million people -- that represent an excellent opportunity to promote social entrepreneurship and social innovation.     

From the public sector, the Mexican government has created specific agencies and policies to support social entrepreneurship and social innovation. According to Foro Consultivo Científico y Tecnológico8 the main efforts have been through the Secretaría de Desarrollo Social (SEDESOL, Secretariat of Social Development), precisely through the Instituto Nacional de Desarrollo Social (INDESOL, National Institute for Social Development), and the Secretaría de Economía (SE, Secretariat of Economy) through the Instituto Nacional de Economía Social (INAES, National Institute of Social Economy). Other efforts by decentralized autonomous public agencies are those from the Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas (CDI, National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Populations).  

Local governments are also vital contributors to this efforts with examples like the Laboratorio de la Ciudad de México (Mexico City Lab) which is the experimental area of the Mexico City government, as well as the projects promoted by the Secretariat of Innovation, Science, and Technology in the State of Jalisco and the similar Secretariat in Mexico City. 

The academic and research sector is increasingly becoming an essential motor for innovation. There are several examples in the country. The Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT, National Council for Science and Technology) hosts INFOTEC, a Research and Innovation Center for Communications and Information Technologies that is creating technologies with high potential to generate social value.  

The Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM, National Autonomous University of Mexico) is contributing to innovation through the Instituto de Energías Renovables (Institute for Renewable Energies). Also the Social and Political Sciences Faculty (FCPyS) and the Escuela Nacional de Trabajo Social (ENTS, National School of Social Work) together with the Coordination of Innovation and Development, developed the curricula for the social innovation course, while the Administration and Accountancy Faculty (FCA) created the Social Entrepreneurship School.  

The Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM) has on different campuses the Institute for Sustainable Social Development (IDeSS), the Center for Development and Entrepreneurship for Migrants in Puebla, the Social Innovation Program at the Mexico City campus, and the Guadalajara campus that is recognized as the Changemaker Campus by Ashoka. 

Some other universities involved in the ecosystem are the University of Monterrey (UdeM) that is also a Changemaker Campus, and the Anáhuac Sur University with a master’s degree in social innovation and citizen participation. 

The Sistema Universitario Jesuita (SUJ, Jesuit University System) in México has also made a relevant contribution in the field. Some examples come from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Puebla (IBERO Puebla) with the first University innovation ecosystem from the Laboratorio de Innovación Económica y Social (LAINES, Economic, and Social Innovation Lab). The Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City (IBERO Ciudad de México) has the Centro de Emprendimiento y Desarrollo Empresarial (Entrepreneurial and Business Development Center), and there is a project to create an innovation lab for citizenship security. Also, ITESO, the Jesuit University in Guadalajara has been working for several years on innovation issues through the Centro para la Gestión de la Innovación y la Tecnología (CEGINT, Innovation, and Technology Management Center), the Business School, and now through CISAI, to make relevant contributions at the local and national level.  

The private sector and the ecosystem of social impact investment are currently providing resources to different social innovation initiatives. This sector is now in an active phase of configuration and growth. Mexico hosts annually in Mérida, the Foro Latinoamericano de Inversión de Impacto (FLII, Latin American Forum for Impact Investment), the most significant event of its kind in the region. Mexico is also the only Spanish-language member of the Global Social Impact Investment Steering Group and recently launched the Alianza para la Inversión de Impacto (Impact Investment Alliance). 

Among the key actors in this sector are investment consultancy firms, foundations, investment portfolios, capital funds, and programs. Some of them are New Ventures México, AMEXCAP, ANDE, Coca Cola FEMSA, Compromiso Social Banamex, Ignia, Impact Hub, Nacional Monte de Piedad, New Ventures, Promotora Social Mexico, SVX México, CSR and Inclusive Business, FOMIN / ECODES, and the Asociación de Fondos de Capital, plus several private individual donors. All of these actors have had to compromise with the new ways to find a match between investment and social impact. 

Private foundations like Ashoka, Fundación Carlos Slim, Nacional Monte de Piedad, among others, as well as initiatives like Enactus Mexico and Social Enterprise Knowledge Network (SEKN), are working as bridges to connect the business world with social entrepreneurs and organizations for knowledge generation. 

Of course, at the hearth of the ecosystem, we have the social innovators, those individuals, groups, collectives, start-ups, small and large companies, innovation communities, non-profit organizations, co-working spaces, and community centers that generate, try, fail with, adapt, or share ideas and new ways of doing and thinking. They are the primary force driving innovation in Mexico. This segment of the ecosystem is fortunately so large now that any try to mention critical actors will be insufficient. It is plausible to affirm that almost in every area of social life in the country there is at least one Mexican initiative investing talent and passion for creating an innovative solutions. The invitation to the reader is to search for those efforts through the work of all the actors mentioned before to have a broader perspective of the contributions currently going on in the country. 

On This Edition

In this edition dedicated to Mexico, SIJ seeks to recognize those social innovators at the heart of the ecosystem. These articles show their shared experiences, achievements, challenges, and frustrations. The ultimate intention is to promote the sharing and hearing of the voices of others to lead us all to recognize the opportunity that exists to imagine new possibilities. 

The reader will find initiatives promoted by civil society organizations, social enterprises, start-ups, public agencies, and universities with a great diversity of topics. Below is a brief description of what you will find in each article of this edition on the rich ecosystem of Mexico:  

Sustainability-oriented Entrepreneurship: ITESO Ecosystem
Claudia Ibarra Baidón – Juan José Solórzano Zepeda

In its educational model, the ITESO system, the Jesuit University of Guadalajara (Jalisco, Mexico) has defined certain common skills for all undergraduate students of the University and key among them are innovation and entrepreneurship. To develop these skills, the students gather around a system of innovation that is designed from an immersive perspective as a system of innovation turned towards sustainability. This ecosystem includes the participation of off-campus businesses that set challenges of social and/or entrepreneurial innovation for which a specific solution has not yet been designed. One of these areas of opportunity is the measurement of impact related to the evolution of the entrepreneurial intention -- sustainability -- of the students. 


Festival of Epicentro Innovation
Carmina Haro Ramírez

With the objective of promoting and strengthening the culture of innovation and the high-impact entrepreneurial ecosystem in Jalisco, the Festival of Epicentro Innovation was born from efforts led by Carmina Haro within the Department of Innovation, Science, and Technology. The main reason behind the development of the Festival of Epicentro Innovation was to be able to take the themes of innovation and technology to other spaces, to generate greater digital aptitude of the citizens, and to expand this type of knowledge to a greater number of people to democratize innovation. 


Implementation of Innovating Strategies to Fight Food Poverty in Jalisco, Mexico
José de Anda, Francisco Urrutia-de la Torre, Morris Schwarzblat y Katz, David Foust Rodríguez, and Ana Teresa Ortega-Minakata

In this article, the principal strategies identified by the government, food banks, and the academic sector are presented to address the challenges that the state of Jalisco faces in regards to food security. Those strategies are being set in motion through a project of social innovation financed by the Mixed Funds CONACYT - State of Jalisco Government. 


The Colmena Community Uncovering the Talent of Social Entrepreneurs
María Elena Valencia González and Ana Magdalena Rodríguez Romero

Colmena is looking to increase the profitability of their products or services through the development of pairing new opportunities with cost-effective businesses with a focus on social economic benefits. The line of social businesses Colmena Relax is focusing on includes microentrepreneurs who specialize in massage therapy and are highly trained in several massage techniques due to a high level of sensitivity related to their being visually impaired. The necessity of this partnership of business and the visually impaired masseurs is successful through innovative incentives used to contribute to the integral/general wellbeing of the public while leveraging the talents, potential, and willingness to grow of the entrepreneurs. 


The Projects of Professional Application: A Modality to Learn and Contribute with and for Society 
Martha Gabriela Muñoz Padilla

In 2004, ITESO brought together the renovation process of its academic programs at the undergraduate level, the Projects of Professional Appliance (PAP), that are “oriented to the intervention or transformation of specific social issues through disciplinary, interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, or transdisciplinary works. These projects capitalize on the accumulated institutional experiences around social compromise generated by the diverse authorities and institutions of ITESO. They are, before everything, projects that are organized in the curriculum structure and oriented towards creating synergies across academia in a more complex and integral solutions-demanding social horizon. 


Building Together the Foundations/Base? Building Block of Early Childhood
Irene Velasco Rocha

HelKi’s mission is to improve the culture and practices of early childhood development in Mexico by supporting a network for parents and early childhood caregivers. HelKi is working to make preparation for optimal development through reliable attachment and effective links with the goal of creating humane, innovative, and inclusive high-quality solutions that can be tools of development for social building as well as prosperity and sustainability. 


Mexican Art as a Creator? Driving Force/Instigator of Social Impact 
Janette Casas

Mexi-HA is a social business, responsible for the inclusion of Native/First Nation communities, the commercialization of products decorated with popular art, and promoting events (both voluntary and festivals). This organization has generated job opportunities for isolated native and indigenous communities and has contributed to the preservation of the environment by encouraging the use of products other than plastics. 


Social Innovation and Familial Agriculture, An Experience in Process 
Pablo Fregoso 

The MIAF system is an agroforestry system of interspersed crop, composed of three species in intense agronomic interaction and whose purposes are production of corn and beans as strategic elements for rural families’ food security, significant augmentation of the net familial income, increasing organic matter, controlling hydric erosion of the soils, and with this, achieving more efficient use of rainwater in the short, medium, and long term. 


Share Instead of Compete
Angela Meraz

In January 2017, the Corporative of Foundations of Jalisco, Mexico, decided to launch a closed call, among a group of associations called, “What would you do with a Ferrari?”. The goal was to see which organization could best reply to: “How would you make the most out of a Ferrari if it were gifted to your Association?” by explaining the reasons their association should be selected and what the funds would go towards supporting. The most innovative answer would determine the winner. Once the winner was identified, an endeavor to band the winner with other participating associations started, in order to maximize the Ferrari’s worth. 10 additional associations were gathered as part of QUIRIVA, a network of 11 civil associations of Guadalajara, united by the objective of sharing more than competing. 

Final Thoughts  

Mexico is a country full of contrasts: the national market attracts investments that support economic growth, and at the same time, there are millions of people with low-quality employment or part of the informal economy. On one side, there are public agencies promoting innovation and entrepreneurship, on the other hand, there are government agencies trapped in corruptive practices and the improper use of public resources. The country has great diversity and richness of its natural resources, yet there are inadequate mechanisms to protect and restore those resources leading to exploitation and degradation. There is a lot of talent and creativity in the new generations, but, there is also an education system that, often, blocks their potential. 

The social innovation ecosystem in Mexico still has challenges to face: there is a need for better mechanisms for cooperation and communication, better access to resources that promote innovation, a coherent and facilitative regulatory framework, and tools to combat corruption at all levels of government.9

These challenges are not an impediment but rather motivators for social innovators to move forward. Social innovators put their energy into thinking and demonstrating how it is possible to combine technology, imagination, business, science, and social commitment to breakdown these barriers and take the country into a better direction.  

We do hope the organizations and reflections presented in this edition can contribute to cultivating those possibilities for Mexico today, tomorrow, and generations to come. 

Works Cited

1 Social Innovations Journal, Presentation (SIJ, 2018).

2 Phills Jr., Deiglmeier, Miller, Rediscovering Social Innovation, (Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2008) 

3 Buckland, H. y Murillo, D. La Innovación Social en América Latina. Marco conceptual y agentes. Instituto de Innovación social. (ESADE, 2014) Retrieved from

4 Buckland, H. y Murillo, D. Antena de Innovación Social. Vías hacia el cambio sistémico. Ejemplos y variables para la innovación social. (ESADE, 2013) Retrieved from

5 Social Innovation: Driving Force of Social Change. Mapping the World of Social Innovation: Key Results of a Comparative Analysis of 1.005 (Social Innovation Initiatives at a Glance, 2016). Available at:

6 Silva F., Martha; Tognola P., Joyce; Camacho A., Karla; Rodríguez A., Agustín Rodríguez Ake; Garza S., Alejandro; Pozos P., María del Pilar. Estado del Arte. (CISAI, 2018)

7 Inter-American Development Bank and Fundación Ecología y Desarrollo, Study of social entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems in the Latin American Pacific Alliance countries: country analysis: Mexico. (Inter-American Development Bank, 2016)  

8 Foro Consultivo Científico y Tecnológico A.C., Ecosistema de Innovación Social en México, (FCCyT, 2016).

9 Inter-American Development Bank and Fundación Ecología y Desarrollo, Study of social entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems in the Latin American Pacific Alliance countries: country analysis: Mexico. (Inter-American Development Bank, 2016)  

 Executive Summary

Despite the growing interest in social investments in Asia, there exists a resource disconnect between funders and Social Purpose Organizations (SPOs). To this end, AVPN was established to foster multi-sector collaborations for social investments in Asia through convening engagements, including the Deal Share and our annual AVPN conference. Through these engagements, it is evident that there is immense potential for different types of resource providers and SPOs to work closely together to deliver social impact. While governments have a vital role to play, it is increasingly the private sector that is stepping up to tackle the challenges of income inequality and poverty. In this article, we explore how resource providers are building multi sector collaborations with SPOs, and the role that AVPN plays in fostering these partnerships.

Resource Disconnect Between Funders and Social Purpose Organizations

With the increasingly complex social and environmental issues that Asian economies face today, the pressure has heightened for the private and public sector to support businesses with social impact. Despite a growing interest and commitment by stakeholders, there exists a gap between funders and Social Purpose Organizations (SPOs)1. Among AVPN’s 492 members across 32 countries, more than $3 billion of financial capital was deployed in the last 12 months across a spectrum of financial instruments including grants, debt, convertible debt, and equity. Yet, the common feedback is that funders struggle to identify the right SPOs. Conversely, SPOs that require support to start, scale, and operate sustainably have faced challenges connecting with relevant resource providers and partners. 

Building Social Investment Communities Across Asia

To address the issue of appropriate capital across the risk/return spectrum, and the lack of quality investment opportunities, it is important to convene a diverse group of social investors and provide them with a platform to foster collaboration. At AVPN, we see the value in establishing the Deal Share Platform (DSP) as part of our efforts to facilitate the building of a resource pipeline, support members in identifying investable organizations, and to enhance connections. The connections are not just made between resource providers, intermediaries, and SPOs, but also between SPOs. 

By streamlining communications on existing and prospective funding and collaboration opportunities, the DSP not only provides connections in a more targeted manner, but it also increases the visibility of members’ work and high-impact SPOs. While the online platform provides year-round accessibility, we also recognize the importance of in-person engagements to deepen understanding of happenings on the ground. 

The Deal Share Live (DSL) participants, like the DSP highlight projects in Asia, are endorsed by AVPN members, and showcase their work to the wider community at annual AVPN conferences and curated regional events. These sessions are crafted according to the audience and markets. They could take place in various formats including roundtable and panel discussions, site visits, and mentorship provided by AVPN members allowing for the exchange of practical capacity building knowledge, evaluation of impact funding opportunities, and an understanding of the landscape in which each stakeholder operates.

At the upcoming AVPN Conference 2018, DSL partners Johnson & Johnson and the British Council to feature 16 innovative SPOs that bring economically empowering solutions to low-income populations through affordable and inclusive health and employment solutions; as well as supporting women and girls, unemployed youth, and other marginalized groups through innovative approaches in the creative economies. Delegates comprised of funders, intermediaries, and policymakers will have an opportunity to engage in an intimate discussion with DSL participants at these breakout sessions. Some examples include:

  • Ko Shwe Ventures: Launched the first affordable oral healthcare products for low-income betel chewers to battle oral cancer in Myanmar and across Asia. 
  • OneSky: Provides early childhood care in Vietnam's industrial zone to educate the children of workers while protecting them from abuse due to neglect and improper training. 
  • Roots of Health: Educates girls in the Philippines on sexual and reproductive health issues, and trains youth as advocates.
  • Khushi Baby: Created an inexpensive necklace with cloud technology to cover last mile maternal and child healthcare in India.
  • Jaga Me: Provides a digital healthcare platform that enables patients to access quality healthcare from home through a global care community network.

Besides the Deal Share Live sessions, there will also be robust discussions among funders, intermediaries, and policymakers on how to support the growth of Social Purpose Organizations. These include the Scaling up Social Purpose Organizations, Collaborating to Meet the SDGs, Existing Alternatives in Impact Investment and Policy Lab sessions. AVPN has also launched the Continuum of Capital reports ahead of the Conference reports to examine how all kinds of capital work together in the social investment ecosystem.   

Fostering Action-Oriented Collaboration with AVPN Members

Beyond the conference, there is immense potential for different types of resource providers and SPOs to work closely together to deliver social impact. While governments have a vital role to play, it is increasingly the private sector that is stepping up to tackle the challenges of income inequality and poverty.  

Corporations Championing Inclusive Business Models 

A growing number of corporations are developing inclusive business models across the supply chain. One such example is Covestro, a leading global manufacturer of high tech polymer products. Covestro’s inclusive business approach includes providing low-income consumers with affordable housing and food security solutions including through partnering with SPOs for solar dryers. In Myanmar, Covestro is partnering with Natural Farm Fresh, an agriculture social enterprise in Yangon. Natural Farm Fresh works with Covestro to develop and scale their solar drying business for smallholder farmers across Myanmar, which can significantly improve food security and income for farmers.

Co-investment Funding Approach to Scale 

Funders are also adopting a co-investment approach to ensure that their invested impact businesses can scale. Evergreen Labs, an early stage investor and incubator based in Vietnam, adopts an active approach with its portfolio by developing the projects far enough until they could be spun off into their own legal entity, with Evergreen Labs holding an equity stake. Evergreen Labs also take on cross-border operating and market entry partner roles with influential startups who want to enter the Vietnamese market. Through the AVPN Conference 2017, Evergreen Labs signed a MoU to become the local implementation partner for DSL participant, Dr. Noah, a startup from South Korea focused on producing sustainable, bamboo toothbrushes and products.

Government’s Role in Transforming Change

The role that the government plays is pertinent in transforming models of change within the country. A DSL participant at the inaugural 2017 AVPN India Summit- Muktangan,, an education NGO providing free holistic education for the underserved communities in Mumbai, has demonstrated how a successful public-private partnership model can work to effectively scale up its impact for the education sector. The seven Muktangan schools (called spokes) and teacher education centers (called hubs) operate through a strong public-private partnership with the Mumbai municipal schooling system, demonstrating the effectiveness of the model within the mainstream education system. Credit Suisse has also recently signed a MoU with Muktangan in support of its Integrated Teacher and School Education program from June 2017 through May 2020.

Maximizing Impact in Social Investment

As the largest unique funders’ network in Pan-Asia, AVPN is committed to building a vibrant and high-impact philanthropy and social investment community across Asia. As a platform, advocate, and capacity builder that cuts across private, public, and social sectors, AVPN embraces all types of engagement to improve the effectiveness of its members across the Asia Pacific region.

The annual AVPN conference convenes a diverse group of funders and resource providers to take part in the largest gathering of social investors in Asia. They represent corporations, foundations, intermediaries, impact investors, and policymakers, and provide opportunities for knowledge sharing, collaboration, and advocacy for the growth of the social sector ecosystem in Asia. This collation stresses the importance of strategic, collaborative, and outcome-focused approaches to social investing -- from philanthropy to impact investing,

Since its launch in 2016, the DSP now has more than 280 deals listed on its platform that are supported by members. SPOs on the DSP are creating social impact in diverse sectors including education and capacity building training, responsible production and purchases, inclusive healthcare, wastewater treatment, and bio-diversity conservation. In recognition of its innovative efforts, the DSP won the Distinction Award at the 10th Anniversary Swiss Philanthropy Foundation “Great!” event in September 2017. 

Besides the online Deal Share Platform that feature high-impact SPOs endorsed by members, AVPN also curate engagements in different Deal Share Live formats. 
Photo by AVPN.

Author Bio

Joy Teo is the AVPN Deal Share Senior Associate. For more on Joy’s professional background visit:

1 Social purpose organizations refer to non-profit organizations (NPOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), charities and social enterprises (SEs) that interact directly with beneficiaries and whose primary objective is to deliver social impact.

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