Luis

Ashoka Fellow
Guatemala,
Fellow Since 2009

Citation

This profile was prepared when Luis Aguilar was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
Luis is mitigating the negative social and economic ramifications of migration on rural Guatemalan communities by connecting emigrants and their home communities using an Internet news platform called News of My People. News of My People provides Guatemalans, both at home and abroad, with information previously unavailable to them—news about their community in the form of written articles, radio, TV, and photographs. The participatory nature of the site creates a dialogue between emigrants and their communities. News of My People is not only informative, but helps guide readers to collaboratively create positive changes in their communities. As a rule, stories are not alarmist; nor do they sensationalize violence. Instead, each story is presented with a relevant background to inform decisions.

Each month, Luis connects over 7,000 Guatemalans in 43 countries using this multimedia platform. He will use this active audience to address poverty and unemployment, typically the root causes of emigration. Luis plans to channel wealth into Guatemalan communities and create jobs by allowing emigrants to purchase gifts for friends and family members from local businesses through the News of My People virtual store. News of My People will also raise awareness about opportunities for community development projects and motivate financial support from emigrants who want to make a difference in their hometowns. Thus far, emigrant communities in the U.S. have only sent collective remittances to their villages in reaction to natural disasters. Luis’ media platform will allow emigrants to proactively select and fund development projects that promote tourism or improve the villages’ public services. By infusing the economy of rural Guatemala towns and allowing the community members to benefit from their cultural heritage, Luis will offer future generations of Guatemalans an alternative to involuntary, poverty-driven emigration.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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