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Young people with big ideas that transform society

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How does one solve old problems? With new ideas

PANAMA CITY – We must listen to the voices of young people, with their fresh ideas and their plans for the future. And especially in Latin America and the Caribbean, the region with the world’s youngest population, where the average age is only 27.

This is what the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will do in its Youth and Social Innovation for Development Seminar at the IDB’s Annual Meeting in Panama, where young social innovators will carry out a dialogue with President Luis Alberto Moreno.

For Carolina Araoz, of Peru, music has become a life-long endeavor. At age 17 she formed the Youth Orchestra of New Music, which was based on the importance of music for the development of cognitive and emotional skills.

In Peru, music courses are not part of the formal educational curriculum. Therefore, Araoz created the music school Jazz Jaus, which has grown into a national and international model with students from six to 70 years of age. Jazz Jaus brings music to schools, produces musical events, assembles musical groups for performances, disseminates culture, and creates jobs.

At age 21, Juan David Aristizábal Ospina, of Colombia, was chosen by Ashoka as its youngest social entrepreneur for his work in creating the project Buena Nota. It was the first time Ashoka had chosen a “fellow” of his age.

Aristizábal says that the death of his best friend at the hands of another young man motivated him to find ways to address the roots of social problems. In 2006 he and a friend set out show Colombians that they should focus “not on what appears in the media, but rather on what takes place in reality.”

Thus was born Buena Nota, a social innovation incubator that provides projects with advice on how to maximize their impact on communities, and in this way serves as a link between projects and organizations interested in providing them with support. The Buena Nota model is based on the concept “VICA”: highlight, inspire, connect, and support (visibilizar, inspirar, conectar, y apoyar). The concept is applicable to any country, under any condition, because it is based on commitment, responsibility, and dedication.

Ernesto Argüello, a Honduran civil engineer, and his brother in 2004 founded Hola Realty, a company that focuses on housing for low-income people.

In 2012 Argüello founded a social enterprise to promote community development in poor neighborhoods. In 2013, he and representatives of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Housing inaugurated the first school in one of these neighborhoods. Hola Realty is working with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation of the United States to provide long-term mortgages, and is presently constructing housing in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.

Rhona Díaz, founder of the Panamanian company Tecnologías Sostenibles (Sustainable Technologies) and mechanical engineer at the Technical University, created a system to channel rain water for use as an alternative renewable energy source for homes. This method is well suited to Panama, which has an eight-month rainy season.

In the project, users can also opt for a reserve rain water system for household cleaning and for watering gardens. The innovative and accessible system can be purchased for as little as $40.

For more information on youth social innovation, and to become part of this movement of young people committed to development, join the IDB Youth Network and build a new region for all at Follow us on Twitter at: @bidjuventud.

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