Francisco Javier Duque Villegas
This profile was prepared when Francisco Javier Duque Villegas was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2002.
The New Idea
In Colombia, where large companies dominate the marketplace and new businesses struggle to establish themselves, Francisco Javier is linking microenterprises into associations to facilitate growth, development, and success. By aggregating many microenterprises and bridging that cohesive whole to the larger business sector, Francisco Javier increases their collective competitiveness and generates income for Colombia's poorest citizens. His economic scheme of productive popular businesses working in solidarity addresses the needs of entrepreneurs as a group, jointly tackling barriers to success shared by most new micro-sized businesses. Moreover, he links the microenterprise associations to a pool of resource providers from which all the participants can benefit but could not otherwise afford on their own. This talent bank, a new concept in the region, builds a database of professionals willing to donate their time for the benefit of the entire microbusiness sectorprofessionals who might be reluctant to offer their expertise piecemeal to individuals whose ability to use them is likely to be hit-or-miss. To facilitate growth opportunities and tap new ideas for new and old businesses alike, Francisco Javier has launched a business-to-business mentorship project in which established companies work with new or micro-sized enterprises.