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Social Entrepreneurship Takes Center Stage in Costa Rica

Lourdes Brizuela | June 10, 2014

On May 24, the Universidad Latina auditorium overflowed with the energy of more than 250 students, young social entrepreneurs, faculty, and socially-conscious business leaders who convened for the 3rd annual Social Shot conference. With its theme of Da el Paso (Take Your Step), the conference gave voice to young social entrepreneurs—many of them Premio Yo Creo fellows—while inspiring young people across Costa Rica to take action to address social and environmental issues in their communities.

The Social Shot now serves as a premier platform for engaging today’s young generation in socially-conscious activities.  At the event, they have the chance to learn about social entrepreneurship, meet entrepreneurs and get involved with their causes, gain practical tools to start their own initiatives—and get inspired. Toward that end, keynote speaker Gisella Sánchez, shared her insights as founder of Nutrivida, a social enterprise that combats child malnutrition through equipping mothers in marginalized communities to sell nutritional supplements.

This year’s event was organized by more than 20 students, and included presentations by young social innovators, along with workshops and a social fair.  Among the youth presenters were 2013 Yo Creo awardee Daniel Uribe, who founded Costas Verdes (Green Coasts) to engage local communities in regenerating and protecting the nation’s coastal forests, and Alejandra López, a Universidad Latina graduate and now assistant professor, who promotes international volunteer programs in Costa Rica and Africa. She and 2013 Yo Creo awardee Manuel Gutiérrez led a workshop on how to strengthen volunteerism within companies and universities. And finally, Jose Arias, an information systems engineer, shared his achievements through El Niño y La Bola (Boy with a Ball), which teaches young people in underserved communities in San José both hard and soft skills. His goal: to empower these youth to study and pursue a university education.

A key conference aim is to demystify the field of social entrepreneurship. As a student of electronic engineering made clear, no matter what your field of study is, it’s possible to approach social, economic, and environmental challenges in a way that results in a positive impact on society.

And how do we know if we have succeeded? For starters, at this year’s Social Shot attendees committed to volunteering 1,500 hours of their time to benefit those organizations highlighted at the conference by October 2014.  

Lourdes Brizuela is Social Responsibility Director for Laureate Central America and Director of Premio Yo Creo, YouthActionNet’s local institute partner in Costa Rica.