Mauricio Parilli

Ashoka Fellow
Illustration of a person's face depicting a fellow
Fellow since 2019
This description of Mauricio Parilli's work was prepared when Mauricio Parilli was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2019.


Mauricio is empowering young people in Venezuela (16 – 20 years old) to become the driving force of the new, socially aware and nimble economic development. He is doing it by building a young social movement of changemakers to influence their environment and become role models for their communities. By seeing young people as the core taskforce for innovations, he is influencing the law as to accept businesses run by youngsters under 18.

The New Idea

Faced with a model that excludes young people from the entrepreneurial ecosystem, Mauricio changes the mentality of the families and makes it possible for these young people to be able to move on at their young age. For example, he has helped a young Isabel Ávila since she was 17, at the age of 19, become the youngest Councilwoman. She is the president of the Municipal Council, and under Mauricio’s leadership has influenced the creation of the first public ordinance in Venezuela and the region that allows young people to create their own companies even when they have not reached adulthood. This way Mauricio promotes a new generation of entrepreneurs; he is changing and creating an entire ecosystem.

In a country where young people have a high migration and have had to stop studying to contribute to the family income, where there has also been a high ideology that seeks to substitute work for subsidy and where parents expect their children to work in common jobs, Mauricio has a different vision and sees that young people are a new generation willing to change, who contribute with different perspectives in entrepreneurship, because they empathize more with social problems. Mauricio creates a cascade model where young people train others. These young people become role models for other young people and for society. Mauricio inspires, empowers and strengthens youth-driven sustainable social innovation models, thus transforming the life of young people and their families, young people who access the products and services market in a sustainable manner and who influence public policies.

In a highly backward country with few opportunities, Mauricio connects young people in a network where they have the opportunity to interact with young global entrepreneurs and from there generates a movement aimed at solving challenges to identify solutions or helpful projects that impact on the solution of social problems in communities, with the capacity for replication, or services, or scalable products with high technological value.

The Problem

In Venezuela, a welfare mentality has been promoted from the State, which aims to make the person increasingly dependent on those who exercise power, minimizing their growing role in the solution of their problems, critical thinking and the possibilities of development. Aspect that is aggravated if it is taken into account that according to the Survey on Living Conditions in Venezuela 2017 (Encovi-2017) 87% poverty is estimated by income, which implies poor nutrition or malnutrition in the population, with more than 220 thousand people with unemployment by 2017 (Encovi-2017).

In addition, according to the latest Youth Survey conducted in 2013 (ENJUVE 2013-UCAB) about 31% of young people were just studying and only 35% worked. 11% (1.2MM approx.) maintained both activities simultaneously, while 23% are classified under the category "neither study-or work", which means that more than 1 in 4 young people are doubly excluded, by being outside the education system and the labor market and, therefore, placed in a position of vulnerability. However, these figures have increased dramatically, since in the Encovi-2017 survey, school dropout rate ranked at more than 38% among children and teenagers between 3 to 17 years of age for different reasons. In addition to this, is the high number of young people who have migrated from Venezuela, it is estimated that close to 3 million Venezuelans have migrated between 2015 to 2018.

Presenting thus, a low participation and articulation of young people in the resolution of community problems due to the scarce management of tools that stimulate innovation, cooperative work and public advocacy, understanding that the disarticulation threatens the possibility of maximizing the impact and connecting experiences and methodologies that encourage greater interaction and contribute to more solutions according to the development objectives. Other problems are, political assistentialism, migration, aspiration as a personal and professional opportunity, uprooting, low self-esteem, distrust, apathy and little capacity for action on behalf of young people.

The Strategy

The Venezuelan situation has deteriorated in the last 10 years, leading many families to exclusion and vulnerability, with young people being one of the most affected, which led Mauricio in 2008 to present and coordinate work groups with more than 1,500 young people from different sectors of the Trujillo State with the purpose of presenting, as a citizens' initiative, a Preliminary Law for the safekeeping and encouragement of youth participation, where access to services would be ensured, stimulate the development of educational opportunities and incorporate the participation of young people in the mechanisms for consultation and formulation of public policies. From a young age Mauricio recognizes this population of excluded young people who are not considered a factor of change, nor involved in transformation projects, however, this Law did not advance as a law project but they managed to promote it as a municipal ordinance and at the same time created the Youth Services Institute attached to the Carvajal Municipality of the Trujillo State.

In 2010 Mauricio is called by the SIGO company where he creates the 1st Model of Social Innovation of the Nueva Esparta State in Venezuela known as the Center for Social Innovation of the SIGO University; there he works with young people in vulnerable communities where the lack of spaces and work methods to promote entrepreneurship in this sector of the population is evident, leading him to create a model where young people developed small inclusive businesses that were incorporated into the value chain of the SIGO company; he managed to impact close of 1,300 entrepreneurs, of which 70% were part of the value chain; 10 years later, this company still exists.

However, this experience made him see an imbalance between the social and the productive, where the exclusion of young people becomes more evident, he realizes that to advance and have a greater reach it was necessary to leave the comfort spaces of the Company and decides to open his own path; in a circumstance where most of the companies in Venezuela were closing, he creates the civil association ‘Aprendo y Emprendo’ in 2015, where he develops his own training and intervention methodologies, accompanied by guides and a working kit for the development of enterprises with social impact. Currently, the work team is constituted of 12 people, of which 2 are employees, 6 volunteers and 4 specialists part-time under contract, within a scheme of a network of facilitators and mentors.

In his first phase, Mauricio, convinced that through young people he can manage to strengthen the social fabric of communities and families, creates his first "Young Entrepreneur" program: aimed towards the entrepreneurial culture, training young multipliers with the capacity to implement entrepreneurial skills in different cities of the country and from there he also involves families, for example, young people carry out financial exercises, then at home they carry out family finances from what they learn in the workshop, and likewise, with different practices that help change the parents’ mentality. However, a year later he realizes that it is not enough to empower young people, as both, the parents and the same ecosystem prevented young people from moving forward due to legal constraints and thus develops their "Entrepreneurial Ecosystem" Program from which they promote the public impact in the field of entrepreneurship, he stimulates the participation and coordination of actors that promote actions in favor of entrepreneurship and develops systems of cooperation in order to develop legal instruments to give participation to young people who may have financing, incentives and leaders of their own business. Mauricio approaches the communities, where there is little access to studies, organizes activities: he identifies young people who have a profile, they interview the parents because they need their permission and they start the training programs.

Mauricio realizes that financial sustainability was a key factor and also creates a "Cazon Tank" financial competition for access to seed capital funds that are invested in projects and subsequently allows for their replication and/or scalability, 50% of the funds come from a family business owned by Mauricio, and the rest comes from embassies, companies and universities; it is worth noting that Mauricio makes no distinction in social, political and economic differences.

So far in 2019, Mauricio has created 12 camps, 10 Cazon Tank competitions and has impacted more than 1,700 youngsters with lectures, 723 young people trained and working in a network, 41 projects financed with sustainability capacity starting the first 16 months, 67% are productive, 33% are social. He has a network of entrepreneurs of 675 young people. Mauricio is present in 10 states of the country and is preparing to begin a phase of expansion to the rest of the country. This year he is developing the first international pilot in Colombia.

In 5 years Mauricio expects to have trained more than 3,500 youngsters, who in turn could impact more than 15 thousand, reaching a population of about 18,500 young people throughout the country. As success stories, one of the "electronic surgeon" ventures has a workshop where they train other young people in the trade; there is another venture that develops filters which then conducts workshops in public schools where he donates the filters so that the children and the community access drinking water.

Mauricio proposes in the long term to promote the Law of Development for Entrepreneurship for young people; in the year 2018 he participated in a Preliminary Law Project from the Government of Miranda in order to accommodate a new generation of entrepreneurs with a social perspective, to solve the legal issue so that these young people can create companies and manage funds, which could reach the nearly 1.2MM most vulnerable young people in Venezuela. It has as allies, community centers, universities, public and private high schools, media, as well as entrepreneurs and investors, Municipalities and chambers of commerce.

The Person

Mauricio comes from a family committed to social support programs. At the age of 12 he was already collecting funds in order to recover, together with other young people, public spaces. At the age of 15, he had already created conversational "´Snack Spaces" groups to find solutions to problems at his school. At the age of 17, he realizes that the LOPNA (Children, Youth and Adolescents Law) did not consider the capacities of the young people as a factor of change. At 19, he entered the CESAP Youth Animation Center where he developed projects for young reporters in schools. He graduated in Political and Administrative Sciences and has a specialization in Public Management and a Master’s in International Cooperation at the Complutense University of Madrid. In addition, he conducted ontological coach studies for management teams at the European School of Coaching and Executive Coach at CEGO. All of which gives him the tools for his impact in the public and social fields.

He has received several awards in the country and is recognized internationally for participating in the International Visit Leadership Program (IVLP) granted by the State Department of the United States, based on boosting Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) in 2018. For Mauricio, work in social impact is part of his life plan, exerting a strong influence his Jesuit thinking. He is defined by his family values in terms of contributing to integral human development, professional training with a perspective towards public policies; in addition to his 17 years of experience in working with entrepreneurs and his commitment to the country and to Latin America to contribute to minimize exclusion, reduce poverty and the empowerment of new leaders, his concern is transformed by having given a solution that empowers and emancipates the young people themselves to change the legal limitations and the adult population views at the time of delegating or providing opportunities as for young people to be the leaders of their own processes.