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No 3  -  MAY 2014

Public Innovation Festival

What do tango, AC/DC, and smoke machines have in common?

UNICEF Nicaragua, a partner of Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa, presented the  Sociopreneur Initiative at the first festival of public policy, FINDEMO, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the end of March 2014.
Official video of FINDEMO: hacking public policy in a non conventional way
The event consisted of 48 hours of hack-a-thon with over 150 entrepreneurs, designers, engineers, and academics united to tackle five problems in public policy.

The Sociopreneur Initiative was the only challenge from the social sector and the only one from outside South America. The pressure was on to present a challenge exciting enough to attract as many brains as possible from this busy crowd.
Official (and well-behaved) picture from FINDEMO, Buenos Aires, Argentina
With smoke machines, AC/DC, and a killer presentation our UNICEF chicas didn't disappoint... We drew in the largest and most creative minds at FINDEMO, who worked tirelessly on an exciting proposal amid circus performances, inspiring talks, and lots of dancing.
Natalia, Elisa and Milja call for ideas to make entrepreneurship a way of life in Tola, Nicaragua
In fact, our group ended up winning the prize for best integration of Human Centered Design in their final proposal. And they continue their support and follow-up from afar. 
Video of the acceptance speech for our amazing team at FINDEMO. For their continued support, special thanks to Renzo, Marco G., Gabriela, Marcos P., Lourdes, Marcelo A., Marcos L., Patricia, Natalia L., Cris, Juan Pablo, Bressanello, Giantomasi, Mercedes, Tamer, Alicia, Federico, Aldana, Leonel, Marcelo M., Rafae, y Jorge!

Tangible and sustainable 

Many have attempted to replicate the success of Silicon Valley. Our goal is no different, but with limited resources, we have to be creative with our own "Emerald Valley."
Besides our amazing social entrepreneurs in Tola, our challenge at FINDEMO relied on a few powerful ingredients:
  • The dense and well-connected social fabric of Tola, united under Tola Conecta, a social platform we're mobilizing;
  • The opportunity to tap on tourists as valuable resources to induce entrepreneurship; and finally,
  • The need for something concrete to promote entrepreneurial activity that's also self-sustainable on its own.
The result was our proposal to build the first hackerspace in Nicaragua!
Dario Wainer gives us a tour of Argentina's coolest hackerspace: Garage Lab. Laser cutting machines and 3D printers are only some of the highlights.
Creating a hackerspace was also our idea to take advantage of the tourism value chain as an integral component of the entrepreneurship ecosystem.

It's about having a physical and self-sustainable place, where locals and tourists come together to create concrete things that have a social impact.

Results in less than 100 days

Meanwhile, our determined sociopreneurs from the first cohort have been busy implementing their 100-day results-oriented plans. Some highlights:
After 10 years dreaming about it, Prof. Lumby, the town historian, has successfully prototyped three of his six cultural tours within 58 days of preparation following a human centered design.
Up to day 58, the Language Academy “El Toleno” is already up and running and Prof. Wilbert  is happily teaching children and other entrepreneurs three times a week.
On day 50, the amazing women from Casa de Mujer continue their daily baking but are now dabbling into creating culinary experiences as part of their portfolio.
In only 45 days, Odalia has secured a place to open a day-care center and even negotiated a monthly salary with the Ministry of Education. She already has 27 kids in her school!

Service trials

Tourists are no longer just looking for beach holidays. Increasingly they wander the world looking for 'experiences.' We're tapping on this trend to allow social entrepreneurs to transform local knowledge and creative ideas into tourism experience services.

Conducting real-life service trials is a human centered design technique that gives immediate feedback to entrepreneurs, who continue to improve their services based on user needs. 
"It used to be a crazy dream. Now all my family is involved. It makes me very proud," confessed Prof. Lumby who got help from his wife and daughter during a service trial for the Bride of Tola Tour.
"Tourists don't stop in Tola. They go directly to the beaches and stay at resorts," explained Prof. Lumby.
Tola Conecta can bring a more inclusive tourism model to the region. 
Downtown Tola at night, a rare sight for passing tourists who come to the region.

Coaches in action

It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a world of amazing coaches to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem. So far, we've had the honor of working with a group of fantastic innovators from Argentina, Colombia, the United States, and Chile. 

Marcelo Muñoz, CEO of Evoluzion Chile, was our recent guest. He worked closely with local entrepreneurs and explained how his social enterprise is revolutionizing responsible tourism in Chile.
Marcelo presenting ideas about the Hackerspace in Tola

What was the highlight of your trip

It’s difficult to put into words… It was an intense experience. I learned from many people, met new friends, saw amazing sights… but the most important thing was to be immersed in the rich social fabric of Tola.

What's EvoluzionChile about?

EvoluzionChile is a social enterprise that promotes the development of low-income communities through responsible tourism experiences. We offer all-inclusive tours to different destinations where you can appreciate tourism attractions and live enriching experiences offered by the wonderful human beings who live in those places.

How are you going to continue to be involved with Tola Conecta?

Evoluzion arrived in Nicaragua to stay! We’re going to support the entrepreneurs from Tola Conecta. We also hope to offer our platform to allow tourists the opportunity to live memorable experiences that combine traditional tourism, with the human, cultural, and entrepreneurial potential in Tola.

I've heard you sang karaoke in Tola...?

(Laughs…) The karaoke was one of my best presentations. As a coach, I dedicated the song “No me doy por vencido" ("I won’t give it up”) to all social entrepreneurs in Tola.

Academia connections

We've also been partnering with an amazing group of young students from the American College in Managua. They have set up a successful 'Business Club' in their campus and have been actively supporting our Tola entrepreneurs. 
Dr. Mauricio Herdocia, President of American College in Managua, with Natalia, Roberto, Elisa, Milja, Rafa, Scarleth, and Luis.

Next steps...

Our work is not only about getting a few entrepreneurs off the ground. It's about creating an ecosystem where social entrepreneurship complements responsible tourism, and vice-versa.

It's about laying down the foundation for an enabling environment where children can 'grow to their full potential.'
Building on complexity and systems thinking, we're busy creating linkages between hackerspaces, social impact funding options, governance structure of Tola Conecta, 'Made in Tola' campaign, etc... 

Stay tuned!
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