News banner image


IDB awards prizes to social innovation projects for inclusion of persons with disabilities

Proposals from Chile, Colombia and Ecuador selected through crowdsourcing and expert evaluations

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) today announced the winners of three competitions organized by its Innovation Lab (I-LAB) for social innovation projects designed to promote the economic inclusion of persons with disabilities in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The selected projects’ sponsors took part in a competition open to public and private organizations and individuals from the IDB’s borrowing member countries. After a round of public online voting, the most popular proposals were evaluated by a panel of experts. In total, 160 projects were submitted.

Centro INGENIA-T of Chile won the competition for business inclusion projects with a proposal to develop a fair trade e-commerce platform to market artisanal products made by indigenous women with disabilities in northern Chile and La Paz, Bolivia.

INGENIA-T, which will receive financial aid to carry out the project, will also establish a business fund to support the design, packaging and marketing of the artisanal products.

The competition for inclusive finance projects, supported by the IDB’s beyondBanking program and the Multilateral Investment Fund, was financed by the Italian Cooperation. This competition was won by an Ecuadorian microfinance institution, Banco D-Miro, with a proposal to develop microcredit and microsavings products tailored to the needs of people with disabilities.

The competition for disruptive ideas, which sought foster debate on how to overcome barriers to the inclusion of people with disabilities, was won by Jorge Enrique Leal Rodriguez, a Colombian systems engineer who created an online program to translate from Spanish into Colombian sign language.

Leal Rodriguez aims to expand his online translator’s body of words with translation into sign language to 7,000 concepts from 1,300 concepts at present. He also wants to turn it into a two-way tool, capable of translating from Spanish into Colombian sign language and viceversa.

Leal Rodriguez, who heads HETAH, a foundation dedicated to the development of humanitarian technological tools, hopes to replicate this project for sign languages used in other countries.

About the I-LAB

In the IDB’s view, innovation is crucial for increasing productivity and fostering inclusive growth in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Bank established its Innovation Lab as a platform to share ideas, identify problems and find creative solutions to development problems. Through the I-LAB’s networks, problems can become high-impact innovations.

About the IDB

The Inter-American Development Bank is a leading source of multilateral financing for Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB’s Competitiveness and Innovation Division promotes the creation and growth of dynamic enterprises, strengthening their capabilities and tools to innovate and compete in world markets.