How Social Entrepreneurship is Transforming Colombian Education

Social entrepreneurship, by essence, is local. Many of the world’s biggest challenges require specific, local antidotes to maladies that affect communities across the globe. In Latin America, a new class of social entrepreneurs are matching their skills to common societal needs and creating positive, long-lasting, and concrete results.  

On May 28, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center held its second event as part of its new Social Impact Entrepreneurship Initiative. This second event highlighted practical examples of entrepreneurs that are making an impact in the region, in particular focusing on how to promote education as a key driver of citizen development and new job opportunities.

Pablo Jaramillo shared his experience as manager of Fundación Luker, a Colombian NGO that works in public education and entrepreneurship. Jaramillo helped pioneer the implementation of a new education model in several of Colombia’s schools. Through public-private partnerships that help schools transition to the Escuela Nueva methodology, he is working to make his hometown city of Manizales Colombia’s number one city in public education. Escuela Nueva promotes active learning over passive learning and has especially impacted what Jaramillo calls citizen participation skills. By working in interactive groups instead of copying notes from a blackboard, students communicate better, are able to advance at different paces that are catered to them, tackle challenging materials in new ways, and develop stronger autonomy and participatory skills.

Fundación Luker is one example of the level of success that can be achieved through innovative social entrepreneurship projects, not only in Latin America but globally as well. Colombia has exported its success to Vietnam, which recently adopted the new methodology in all sixty-three of its provinces.

Social impact projects that start locally and expand to fit global challenges are transforming the policy landscape for economic and social development in Latin America and abroad. With the Social Impact Entrepreneurship Initiative, the Arsht Center aims to build on the region’s growing entrepreneurial spirit to drive forward a new policy conversation on innovative social investment models.