Year in Review: Celebrating Social Entrepreneurs from the Americas

As we near the end of 2011, we are looking back at some of the most significant events that took place in our network during the past year. The first highlight is the Americas Business Council’s Continuity Forum, which was held in Miami in November.  

With speakers like Lance Armstrong, David Axelrod, and Jane Goodall, the Continuity Forum, hosted by Americas Business Council (abc*), was a stand-out event in 2011 for recognizing progress made by social entrepreneurs in the Americas. The event gathered world-renowned thinkers and doers for a three-day session about modern philanthropy, social innovation, and entrepreneurship, and also featured 37 Ashoka Fellows, who showcased their solutions to the region’s most pressing challenges.

“The 2011 Continuity Forum was a true celebration of social and business entrepreneurship and innovation,” said Paula Recart, leader of Ashoka’s U.S. program. “We are delighted that abc* and Ashoka share the vision of what it takes to make big changes in the world, and we appreciate their recognition of our Fellows’ work in the region.”

Armando Laborde, director of Ashoka Mexico and Central America, said he was gratified by the quality of leaders who attended. “This Forum brought together established leaders and emerging leaders, each with his or her own passion and dedication to create and grow sustainable solutions to problems afflicting our lands and our people,” he said.

“This Forum will certainly reinforce the value of the work of these Ashoka Fellows, and the impact it will have in the region.”

As a finale and tribute to the pioneering work of social entrepreneurs, three Ashoka Fellows were awarded grants from abc* to deepen the impact and broaden the reach of their work:

La Tablée des Chefs (The Chef’s Table) was created by Ashoka Fellow Jean-Francois Archambault (Canada), who was inspired after watching nine tons of high-quality food getting tossed out after stadium sports events of the Montreal Canadians. The Chef’s Table now brokers leftover food (from the stadium and major hotels) that feeds more than 60,000 people in Montreal’s poorest areas, serving 700 meals per day, every day of the year.

Watch a video about Jean-Francois Archambault's work.

For more details about the project, visit: www.tableedeschefs.org.

Cauce Ciudadano A.C. (Citizen Pathway), created and led by ex-gang member and Ashoka Fellow Carlos Alberto Cruz Santiago (Mexico), is a comprehensive program of education, social inclusion, and jobs for more than 75,000 youth between the ages of 11 and 21 who have been torn from their families to participate in organized crime in Mexico. Criminal recidivism is only 24 percent for youth who engage with Cauce Ciudadano; by comparison, the recidivism rate for young people in court-ordered programs with much-larger budgets is more than 85 percent.

Watch a short video about these youth.

For more details, visit: www.cauceciudadano.org.mx 

Biotecnología Agrocolombiana (Colombian Agri-Biotechnology), created and led by Ashoka Fellow Luis Orlando Castro Cabrera (Colombia), works to improve both agricultural and environmental outcomes by creating agricultural products out of organic material from waste management plants. After 30 years of painstaking scientific investigation, this social business has patented Natur-Abono, an organic biodegradable fertilizer, as well as bio-pesticides.

These products raise the growing performance of plants by up to 244 percent, and also reduce water consumption, fungal and insect blight and loss, and have been used to successfully reclaim depleted, chemically-abused, saline and desert soils for productive agriculture. 

Watch a video about these products.

For more details, visit: www.luisorlandocastro.com.

This article was originally published on 22 December 2011

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