Gabriela Gaitán Falconi: Empowering Adults Over 50 for a Vibrant Life Through Learning and Creation

agosto 24, 2023

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background, and your experience. 

My parents dedicated their lives and work to kids with disabilities in Peru. In the 80s, there were no oral health specialists who focused on this population, and the treatments they received were risky. Both of them fought for the inclusion of people with disabilities and acceptance in society and their families. It was from a young age that I knew I wanted to replicate what they were doing, using my projects and my voice to make a positive impact on others’ lives. 


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? 

When I was finishing university, I conducted a research project focused on the population over 50 years old in Peru, where I realized the prejudices that existed about aging and age – prejudices that we have normalized and adopted in our expressions and even in the language we use on a daily basis. Age discrimination is the most widespread in the world, and this results in a lack of opportunities for this population. Throughout the research, I also met many older people who did not fit the existing stereotypes. 


These were individuals with a drive to move forward, with ongoing projects, goals, and objectives, and a desire to pursue what they hadn’t been able to do until then. Additionally, I also became aware of the reality faced by many older adults in Peru: violence, abandonment, and poverty. That’s why we are currently designing a service focused on promoting productivity and income generation in low-income older adults so that they can gain economic independence and improve their quality of life.


What is the main challenge you want to solve? 

The main challenge we aim to solve is social isolation and limited opportunities faced by adults over 50 years, especially those living in vulnerable situations. Our target audience consists of adults who are looking to learn new hobbies or bring their projects to life. The beneficiaries are older adults who may be facing financial constraints, a lack of access to education, and limited social support networks. We want to address this challenge by providing them with opportunities for education, skill development, and productive activities that empower them to lead fulfilling and independent lives.


How did you first hear about the social business concept? When did you realize you were leading a social business?

The first time I heard the term was in university, in the Socially Responsible Marketing course, but it wasn’t until I entered the Y&Y fellowship program that I was able to deeply understand what they entailed and the impact they generated on society. It was here that I realized that Parlare was a social enterprise, and I started changing some processes to generate the greatest possible impact on people.


What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? And the least? 

Being an entrepreneur opens doors to continuous learning and personal growth. Every day presents new challenges and opportunities to expand my knowledge, develop new skills, and broaden my perspective. Moreover, it is very rewarding to see how ideas materialize, and over time, we make decisions that help more people to benefit.


On the other hand, entrepreneurship also comes with its fair share of challenges and uncertainties. One of the aspects I find most demanding is the constant pressure and responsibility that comes with leading a business. It requires a great deal of resilience and the ability to navigate through setbacks and obstacles. Sometimes there are obstacles that are more challenging than others, but it ultimately depends on our motivation and determination to overcome them. And if we happen to stumble, it’s important to gather the strength to rise again.


What is the most important lesson you learned in your journey as a social entrepreneur so far?

By having trust in myself and my decisions, and remaining unwavering in my beliefs and values, I will keep progressing as long as I prioritize the purpose for which Parlare was created. It’s a gradual journey, moving forward step by step.


How did you hear about the Y&Y Fellowship Program?

Linkedin, though some Y&Y alumni.


What motivated you to apply?

I applied for various reasons. I was drawn to a program that focused solely on social enterprises and connected fellows from all over the world. Moreover, it seemed like a very comprehensive program, with much-needed content for our situation, and it provided us with the opportunity to work with mentors who would guide us along the way.


How has your journey as a Y&Y Fellow been so far?

Incredibly, I have met a group of people who genuinely care about the well-being of others and are eager to work towards a more equitable and just world for all. Moreover, every week we learn something new, and our mentors guide us with their experience and knowledge.


Why is it important to have the support of a mentor?

A mentor brings valuable experience and expertise to the table. They have likely navigated similar challenges and have knowledge of the relevant industry. This can help us make more informed decisions and avoid reinventing the wheel. Also, running a social business can be challenging, and there may be times when we face setbacks or doubts. Our mentor can provide encouragement, and motivation during such times. 


What advice would you give to a young person who is starting a social business?

My advice to a young person starting a social business is to fight for the world they want to create and never lose sight of the initial motivation that drove them to embark on this journey. Stay passionate, persistent, and committed to your purpose. Research the landscape, collaborate with like-minded individuals, test and iterate your ideas, and measure your impact. Remember to stay true to your core values and let them guide your decisions as you work towards creating positive change.


What advice would you give to someone considering applying to the Y&Y Fellowship Program?

My advice to someone considering applying to the Y&Y Fellowship Program is to seize the opportunity to be part of this transformative experience. The program welcomes individuals from diverse backgrounds who possess a genuine desire to create a positive social impact. Emphasize your passion and unwavering commitment to making a difference, while expressing your strong motivation to become a valuable member of a diverse community of like-minded individuals dedicated to driving social change. Demonstrate your readiness to embrace the program’s abundant resources and support, showcasing your enthusiasm for personal development and amplifying your impact on the world.

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