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30 of Spain’s Brightest Young Changemakers Prioritize Connection Amid Fast-Paced Lives

Lisa Jones | January 10, 2017

Between overseeing day-to-day operations, leading teams, and planning for the future, social entrepreneurs have demanding schedules and manage their time judiciously. That’s why it’s worth taking note when 30 of Spain’s most impactful—and busiest—young social entrepreneurs leave their ventures behind for a day to reconnect, share, and learn together.

These 30 changemakers are alumni of Universidad Europea’s Premios Jóvenes Emprendedores Sociales (Premios JES) institute for leadership development. Launched in 2008, Premios JES is part of the global network of YouthActionNet Institutes spanning 23 locations around the world. The Spain program annually recognizes the work of young people ages 18 -29 who lead social initiatives, providing them with training, funding, and other support to grow their impact. In total, 80 youth-led social ventures have benefitted from the program so far. This includes organizations working to solve diverse challenges in fields such as education, social inclusion, technology, fair trade, the environment, and human rights.

In alignment with efforts to support the development of these leaders beyond their fellowship year, Program Director Andrés Pina organized an alumni meetup in Madrid.

“We believe in the power of this group of 80 young changemakers,” said Andres. “We know that by bringing them together, they can expand their impact in communities across Spain, ensuring a more sustainable future for us all.”

A highlight for attendees was a workshop led by Pau Garcia-Milà, 28-year-old serial entrepreneur named Spain’s Innovator of the Year by the MIT Technology Review. Pau is the author of several books on innovation, and is a regular speaker at events, where he advocates the culture of failure as a key part of success.

Pau offered his top tips for leading social ventures, which included accepting failure, forgetting pride, developing perseverance, and bouncing back from criticism.

Young leaders in attendance had the opportunity to share learning experiences and resources, as well as network and build relationships.

“It was a great idea to gather us together for this event,” said Mohamed El Amrani, 2013 Premios JES fellow. “We’ve been able to share new accomplishments from our ventures, dreams and goals.  It’s been really inspiring.” Mohamed is the founder of Xarxa de Convivència, a social platform that seeks to revolutionize the way we understand coexistence and ensure that no groups—especially vulnerable youth—are left behind.

Entrepreneurship is often called a lonely journey. When young leaders have the space to disconnect from their day-to-day responsibilities and reconnect with likeminded peers, they strengthen their networks of support to call on when times get tough.

To learn more about the importance of bringing young leaders together for authentic sharing and connection, read Does Vulnerability Lead to Courageous Leadership?  To learn more about the Premios JES program in Spain, visit