Mariana Incarnato

Ashoka Fellow
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Fellow Since 2012


This profile was prepared when Mariana Incarnato was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
Mariana is equipping the unemployed youth of Argentina with the skills to succeed in their society. Currently six million young people are unemployed and at-risk of staying caught in a cycle of poverty and violence. Most public and social sector initiatives, though, have failed to arrest this cycle, bearing high failure rates. After spending several years working with disadvantaged young people, Mariana determined that they needed a comprehensive program that helped build their confidence and positive values in addition to teaching them basic skills. Doncel is now a recognized leader in the field; combining elements of coaching, mentoring, and technical training to produce a successful and transformational program. Now, other public service initiatives are clamoring to adopt Doncel’s ideas and reproduce them throughout Argentina.

Doncel’s partnerships with coaches, mentors, and corporate clients are critical to its success. Young people who enter the two-year program receive individualized coaching and training, based on their demonstrated talents—which may have gone unrecognized without Doncel’s team of trained psychologists and social workers. They learn basic but crucial self-confidence, job training and employment skills, and technical work. After this initial intervention, young people have the opportunity to apply for and obtain a temporary position at one of Doncel’s allied businesses. Impressed by the well-prepared young people Doncel produces, many major businesses such as Sheraton, that seek temporary workers, have partnered with Mariana to recruit an ongoing pool of new potential staff. Temporary worker portals like Manpower also engage directly with Doncel, opening access to a diversity of quality jobs. The young people maintain their relationship with their coaches throughout their temporary contracts as they implement what they learned on the job. With a strong base of skills and personal and corporate partners supporting them, they gain the confidence and actual track record they need to advance in the labor force.

Mariana has methodically tested Doncel to ensure measurable success rather than spread it fast and superficially. She started with one of the most difficult-to-reach sub-segments among unemployed youth—those living in state-sponsored institutions and about to enter adulthood. They are often most at-risk of further social marginalization after leaving their shelters. Having achieved admirable and unparalleled success in helping them secure permanent jobs, temporary positions or academic pursuits, Mariana is now broadening her focus to tackle the entire population of unemployed Argentine youth. Potential sponsors in the public and private sector nationwide have contracted with Doncel to incorporate its strategy into their work, including the Inter-American Development Bank By packaging Doncel into partnerships rather than implementing it directly, Mariana is quickly expanding her work to achieve national impact.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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