Efrén Martínez

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2011


This profile was prepared when Efrén Martínez was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
Efrén is shaping a cultural change in values and attitudes to prevent drug and alcohol addiction among Colombian youth. Through an integral, behavior-centered vision driven by a different insight into the problem of addiction, he raises young people’s awareness of each step in the dangerous chain of drug production, trafficking, and consumption. With his Here and Now Collective Foundation (Fundación Colectivo Aquí y Ahora) Efrén has designed an approach that incorporates themes of rehabilitation, prevention, and treatment into a program of workshops and interactive methods to teach youth through personal reflection to resist the temptations of substance abuse by developing a new sense of self and empowerment. As Colombians find new meaning in their lives that have long been fraught with violence associated with drug trafficking and consumption, they are better able to transform their behavior through improved resistance to influences by peers and social norms.

To render a national cultural shift, Efrén has adapted his methods to work with different social sectors that influence young people’s lives and can help impart the change in values that Efrén seeks. Apart from operating stand-alone clinics for those with alcohol and drug problems, he involves schools, universities, businesses, and families to stimulate a new mindset. These components work in sync to create a movement that have multiplied his results and impact across the country. Efrén also engages in massive campaigns to publicize the alcohol-free events and raise interest in the program, a tactic that has enabled him to forge partnerships with some of the largest stakeholders in Colombia. In this sense, his innovation is the set of strategies that he has created and marketed to an entire country.

Ultimately, Efrén hopes to influence the values and attitudes of Colombian society. In the country bearing the highest rates of alcohol addiction in Latin America, producing such cultural change to resist the temptations of alcohol abuse is challenging indeed, but by collaborating with the various actors who influence a young person’s life, he is helping to create ecosystems that nurture and reinforce positive lifestyles. Furthermore, by molding his methodology to a host of different audiences, he is creating a highly replicable scheme with the potential for broad yet direct social impact in Colombia and Latin America.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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