Ximena Costales

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 1996


This profile was prepared when Ximena Costales was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
Ximena Costales has developed a system to form micro-enterprises in prisons. Linked to a larger vision of prisoner rehabilitation and community development, Ximena's program follows the prisoners upon their release into the community, where business activities are continued and extended. Piloted in three men's prisons in Quito–Hogar San Pablo, Penal García Moreno, and Prison Number Three–over the past three years, the program has demonstrated dramatic success. Since its inception, some 1,400 inmates have participated in nearly two dozen businesses. Of the 100 prisoners who went through the program and have been released, none have been returned to prison.Several innovative features of this program explain its effectiveness. First, inmates are linked to released prisoners and to the poor communities in which they live. As a result of this network, benefits (e.g., skills, jobs/self-employment, and pride) are extended through all three groups.Second, the initial prison-based micro-business training programs are of a very high quality, and they are organized to draw upon underutilized skills among the prison population as well as volunteer non-prison resources. (For example, Ximena has enlisted the support of the School of Business Administration at the Catholic University of Quito in a program mixing business students in marketing and planning for prison-based business.) And third, accepted environmental practices are incorporated in the new businesses. Recycling and low environmental impact manufacturing processes are emphasized.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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