Tell us a bit about yourself, your background, and your experience. Specify any relevant details in your upbringing that contributed to developing your social business idea later on.
I am a woman from Colombia and I am passionate about uncomfortable conversations, public service, climate action, sustainable development goals, and reduction of inequalities. In 2019 I started with Wom-en, an organization led to raise awareness, train, and connect change makers searching for more equitable and sustainable environments. Its focus is on promoting gender equality, quality education, and sustainability, with processes to include the voices of women and youth in decision-making on climate change and reducing inequalities. Since then, I have led more than 6 projects allowing training, making visible and connecting more than 300 people throughout the national territory, and having spaces for diffusion and conversation with an impact on more than 2000 people.
Please describe your company story. What led you to start your social business? How did you come up with the idea to start your social business?
In 2019 I started with “Wom-en”, an organization led to raise awareness, train, and connect change makers searching for more equitable and sustainable environments. Its focus is on promoting gender equality, quality education, and sustainability, with processes to include the voices of women and youth in decision-making on climate change and reducing inequalities. Since then, I have led more than 6 projects allowing training, making visible and connecting more than 300 people throughout the national territory, and having spaces for diffusion and conversation with an impact on more than 2000 people.
We have led Wom-en for 4 years from the passion for a cause, where the main resource has been the volunteerism of a team committed to public service and the construction of social fabric.
What is the main challenge you want to solve?
The economic impacts of climate change deepen existing inequalities in labour market access and social participation of women and youth. As a result, their income and employment opportunities decrease. Economic autonomy is a fundamental pillar of people’s development, which, by definition, requires an income that allows them to overcome poverty and to spend their time freely to train, access the labour market, develop professionally and personally, participate actively in social and political life, and devote themselves to their loved ones without it becoming a barrier to the achievement of their own aspirations.
The disadvantage in employment and social participation in Colombia creates a risk for vulnerable people, leading to a life with less capacity to cope with the effects of climate change. Not to mention the number of people affected by natural disasters, and situations aggravated by the effects of climate change.
It is therefore imperative to increase opportunities for equal leadership at all levels of decision-making and more active participation in decision-making. It is necessary to encourage projects that position women and youth as agents of change and ensure the development of knowledge to address climate change and social injustice.
How did you first hear about the social business concept? When did you realize you were leading a social business?
I must admit that in many places I have heard the word “social entrepreneurship”, however only until participating in this program I have managed to be aware of its meaning, and even until this moment I have understood that my cause is social entrepreneurship.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? And the least?
What I have enjoyed most about entrepreneurship is the constant and challenging learning process. This is an exercise that involves constantly deconstructing oneself and keeping an open mind to new possibilities, people, and opportunities.
What I have liked the least is that it can be a solitary exercise, where burnout can end up being more frequent if there are no supportive spaces.
What is the most important lesson you learned in your journey as a social entrepreneur so far?
What I have learned most about this process is the importance of being part of a community or communities all the time, it is the relationships that give you the opportunity to access opportunities, and markets and evaluate yourself critically and constructively.
How did you hear about the Y&Y Fellowship Program?
Social networks: Instagram of Yunus & Youth.
What motivated you to apply?
I always aspire to be in spaces where I can link my passion for public service and the construction of actions that minimize, mitigate, or adapt communities against climate change effects, and that allow through uncomfortable conversations to find answers to the different problems that involve both thematic axes. I dream of bringing to my territory alternatives that mobilize resources and capacities, of continuing building and connecting networks throughout the territory that join this purpose and consolidating public strategies that link all sectors in the climate commitment, and, I aspire to create references in the way of doing social and environmental activism in my country.I was motivated to apply to this program because I found the transformation of mentality I needed to take my cause to a social enterprise.
How has your journey as a Y&Y Fellow been so far?
It is wonderful to find spaces where they understand and share your frustrations, but above all, they support and guide you to get out of them. So far this experience has allowed me to reinvent myself in my project, to find new ways out of problems that I did not see a solution to before, I can even say that I am living a change of mentality.
Why is it important to have the support of a mentor?
Frustration can limit innovation and creativity. When making a lonely path in social entrepreneurship, it is common to find ourselves navigating frustration. However, the importance of mentoring is precisely in being the opportunity to get out of frustration, have guidance, and thus navigate innovation and creativity.
What advice would you give to a young person who is starting a social business?
- Always find time for yourself, to dance, play sports, eat healthy, meditate, or watch television.
- Never walk alone, being part of a community is what really motivates and recharges you in the most complex moments.
- Look for safe spaces where you can connect with your essence, inspire, and motivate you.
What advice would you give to someone considering applying to the Y&Y Fellowship Program?
Navigate between mistakes, this will shed light on what you want and above all what you can get from the program.