Colombian social entrepreneurship setting an example for the world

Social entrepreneurship in Colombia is gaining increasing traction on the international stage, with Colombian projects recognized for their outstanding social and environmental impact. Many have inspired similar initiatives in other countries and earned praise and recognition from international entities and organizations.

‘Accion Interna’ and its advertising agency prison


Renowned Colombian actress and businesswoman Johana Bahamon began her work with Colombia’s prison population six years ago, when she created the ‘Accion Interna’ foundation, which develops innovative projects, related to cultural and business creation, to support inmates’ social reintegration.


Her latest social community project is the creation of an advertising agency operating out of Bogotá’s La Modelo prison. Inmates were trained for nine months beforehand and the project’s main purpose is “to develop their talent to the fullest, even if they are deprived of their freedom,”  Bahamon says.


Colombia’s top advertising agencies are supporting the project, which will see prisoners run campaigns alongside top executives. The money they earn will go to their families and, for every two days of work, their prison sentence will be reduced.


This innovation project is the latest from Accion Interna, which was the first to open a public restaurant inside a women’s prison and runs various entrepreneurship and personal training courses. Interno restaurant was voted one of the 100 Best Places in the World by TIME magazine in 2018.


Bahamon’s work led to her being appointed a Reconciliation Ambassador by the OEI and Reconciliation Colombia in 2017. She also won the Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year award and Best Businesswoman in the 2018 Politika awards.


Check out: Colombian creations are conquering the world

Be Girl: A project that wants to revolutionize the world


Colombian Diana Sierra wants to transform the lives of girls worldwide. The only question is… how? Thanks to her work at the United Nations, Sierra saw that girls and women across the world have no access to basic health resources when their period arrives, sometimes missing school for that reason.


Her desire to help young women in Africa, where 40% of girls without access to sanitary products live, led to her developing ‘Be Girl’, the world’s first reusable sanitary towel. She used a sanitary towel, a mosquito net and the waterproof material from an umbrella to invent the product.


Be Girl works thanks to a mesh pocket that is sealed and tied to the bottom of underwear. While Be Girl products can be washed and reused for up to a year, the material inside (pieces of cloth, cotton, toilet paper and so on) are thrown away.


Sierra is now distributing 33,000 products across 24 countries and her mission has expanded. Be Girl’s social entrepreneurship not only helps vulnerable communities through healthcare but in sexual and reproductive education too, providing workshops that teach children about menstruation.


Check out: Six Colombians achieving fame for their work in natural sciences

A dance academy for education in Colombia


The Juan Pablo Gutiérrez Caceres foundation was created to provide social assistance for young Colombians who want to study but lack the necessary financial resources. It has awarded 384 scholarships so far, to young people from Manizales, Bogota, Medellin, Quibdo and Buenaventura.


In order to raise funds and finance the education of even more young people, the foundation created the social entrepreneurship ‘Choco to Dance’ project in 2016 (


Choco to Dance is a digital dance academy that teaches dance moves from Colombian musical genres, including champeta, salsa, reggaeton and ‘salsa choque’, this last one was globally recognized as a goal celebration by Colombia’s footballers at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.


The platform’s philosophy is “Swap Education for Education” and it has won 25 advertising awards in eight countries, including the Cannes Gold Lion.


Talented young people from Choco, on Colombia’s Pacific coast, with an outstanding dancing ability, teach the steps.

The website  is extremely easy to use, where students around the world are able to access their classes for USD $9.99 for four months.



Colombian projects with a social component


Socialab Colombia seeks to expand sustainability and innovation through social entrepreneurship in Colombia and is looking for leaders of early stage initiatives that have passed the ideas phase and are ready to offer a viable product.


Colombian entrepreneurs leading socio-community projects that are likely to make a great impact are invited to participate in calls for scholarships granted by Socialab El Lab. It’s an accompaniment program created by Chilean accelerator Socialab and acts as a laboratory for entrepreneurs willing to tackle social problems.


Users must have a team of at least two people and be able to provide proof of their experience, as well as have the support of an ally who can attest to the work already achieved. More than 80 Colombian enterprises have passed through Socialab Colombia and Socialab has a presence in Chile, Mexico, Argentina, Guatemala and Uruguay too.


Not only have these examples of social projects in Colombia placed the country in the spotlight on the world stage, they have acted as an inspiration for thousands of similar projects across the globe. Find out more about the best of Colombia.



Check out: Made in Colombia: Environmentally-friendly products that are saving the planet


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