Magdalena Dormal

Seeing Solutions Instead of Problems: What happens when 16 Changemakers come together to innovate? They hope to find out Sept. 25–27

Changing the world is not always as difficult as it seems. There are many unsung heroes who find innovative ways to solve old social problems. People like you and me who see solutions instead of problems. Empathy, perseverance, entrepreneurship, thirst for justice; these are just some of the characteristics that define such social entrepreneurs.

Luckily, these pioneers are not alone. Many are part of the global network of social entrepreneurs at what might be called the world’s social impact fan club: Ashoka. Being part of this network not only gives social pioneers visibility and recognition for their innovative work, it also puts them in contact with entrepreneurs from all over the world who, like them, are implementing projects that positively impact communities. And it provides them with connections needed to continue multiplying the impact of their work and change the system that causes the social problem.

Every time Ashoka Fellows meet other members of the network, energy is multiplied – and solutions, too – because one inspires the other. At least, that’s the goal of the Ashoka Globalizer Summit on Economic Inclusion taking place in Buenos Aires, Sept. 25–27. Sixteen Ashoka Fellows will meet to think through together how to take the impact of their projects to the next level.

Despite their diversity, the 16 projects of those entrepreneurs have the same goal: To solve social problems by implementing an innovative, system-changing, sustainable solution.

For example, Clinicas del Azúcar, started by Javier Lozano, provides health care to low-income diabetics in Mexico, where more than 90 percent of the affected population is excluded from treatment because of cost (more than $1,000 per year). Faced with the inefficiency and high cost of public and private health systems, Lozano decided to create a low-cost multi-clinic to treat diabetes and prevent complications of the disease. By charging a flat rate fee he ensures that all patients can access his services and diagnostic examinations.

In Guatemala and Belize, another social innovator, Emily Stone, is disrupting the cacao market dynamics in Central America by developing “eye-level” partnerships between cacao farmers and premium chocolate producers, making smallholder farmers the protagonists of the system and ensuring transparency, higher prices for their cacao and improving their wellbeing beyond the cacao fields.

With his the Biodent program, Edgar Martinez of Mexico is offering high-quality dental care at affordable prices to people who generally have no access to such services for economic reasons. He is buildiing a network of clinics throughout Mexico that use the latest tecnhology to provide low-income clients with high-quality care. This works in part because of a critical prevention program in schools that is connected to the clinics and because Martinez, through a university network, launches awareness campaigns to increase the number of dentists who see providing services to low-income people as a new career path.

Sabe la Tierra, an initiative launched by Angie Ferrazzini in Argentina, is transforming production and consumption habits by leveraging key stakeholders in the farm-to-table pipeline. It’s a model in which everyone wins: Small producers sell fresh produce without intermediaries and consumers eat healthy, local products. To date there are four Sabe la Tierra producer markets up and running, with a network of 250 small producers and more than 15,000 consumers monthly.

Kubo Financiero, a digital platform founded by Mexican Vicente Fenoll, creates private lending communities based on trust, transparency and best market rates. It enables private individuals with good credit to obtain financing through the savings of others. Kubo has granted more than 2,200 loans, where 95 percent of borrowers pay less than half of the interest they would through other credit institutions. In return, investors net two to three times better yields. Additionally, the kubo platform provides all users with financial education that will help them make better financial decisions, leading to greater social and economic development.

These social entrepreneurs have achieved greater social impact through their individual creativity and innovation. Just imagine what can happen when they start working together. During the three days of the Globalizer Summit in Buenos Aires, the 16 entrepreneurs will meet with each other and with private-sector leaders, top-level advisers, consultants and opinion leaders to reflect on how to expand the social impact of their projects and reassess their scaling strategies.

The summit will highlight the importance of all sectors of society committing to a more inclusive economy, and possible ways to do so. The different backgrounds of the participants will offer multidisciplinary views and will allow a particularly enriching exchange to challenge the existing obstacles. All in all, they hope they’ll spread the desire to join this global party of change.


Magdalena Dormal works at the World Innovation Summit for Education, where she manages public affairs and digital content strategy for Latin America and Spain. 

Education, Health Care, Social Enterprise
social enterprise