Fermín Torrejón Salazar

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2007


This profile was prepared when Fermín Torrejón Salazar was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.
The New Idea
Fermin is transforming rural Peru’s planning and development process into a dynamic, citizen-driven catalyst of economic development. He envisions economic development and local planning processes which are integrated across communities, time, and diverse stakeholders. Local level economic development initiatives, traditionally separate from government planning work, are now linked through a flow of data. Under Fermin’s design, local cash-crop production becomes much more than another community-based development scheme; it becomes a community-based development scheme with a road. Governments receive the information they need to build roads to connect cash-crops with markets and plan watershed management around new irrigation infrastructure. 
But Fermin also knows that computers alone do not make a better world. At its core, information technology, and the ability to use it, provide a platform to improve local productivity and bridge dramatic gaps in information and coordination. He teaches youth to access technology to connect on-the-ground activity and government. “Telecenters” and accompanying training, positions young people to feed information on local activities to regional governments and access the federal government’s substantial resources on export markets and regulations. Fermin also teaches them to access simple planning technologies that have the power to show immediate, concrete improvements in agricultural productivity. 
Fermin’s timing is no coincidence: He is leveraging a series of political events that magnify the power of his work. A newly decentralized planning and spending process redirected millions of federal dollars to the discretion of local and state governments. Mining companies have pledged millions for local development, and a recent election replaced entrenched politicos with enlightened locals. Fermin has begun to implement his work with a regional governor, and has attracted strong interest from several regional leaders who need a way to manage this influx of cash. Fermin is establishing the conditions to spur a more citizen-led approach to development at a critical time of change.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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