Laureate Amplifies the Power of Education to Transform Lives of Young Social Entrepreneurs
This article was created in partnership with 2019 Best For The World B Corp Laureate International Universities.
The number of higher education institutions across Latin America has boomed since the turn of the century. The opening of 2,300 new schools across 33 countries has nearly doubled the number of students enrolled. But this widening availability of higher education in Latin America doesn’t always translate to accessibility for low-income families.
Education and poverty are inextricably linked. Education can provide a path to greater wealth as it bolsters economic mobility and reduces inequality. But tuition for higher education institutions, which typically are private and expensive, creates a barrier to these opportunities. Many people decide to work instead of continuing with school, especially for the record number of Latin American residents living in extreme poverty.
One Certified B Corporation hopes to reverse this trend. Laureate International Universities is the largest international degree-granting higher education organization working to bring affordable, quality education to all, with a strong focus in health sciences, business, information technology, architecture, and arts and design. While many of its institutions are in Latin America, the network has global reach, with more than 875,000 students in over 25 institutions. Laureate is committed to creating positive and lasting change in its work as a B Corp and 2019 Best For The World Customers and Governance honoree. Making good on this promise, in 2018 alone, Laureate granted its students more than $700 million in scholarships and discounts. Beyond providing higher education, Laureate’s programs are designed to build the skills necessary to prepare students for joining — and improving — the workforce.
“What we believe for everything we teach is that we need to focus on both academic and social outcomes,” says Adam Smith, vice president of communications and public affairs at Laureate. “It’s about building a culture where you understand that no matter what area you may graduate in, you can apply that experience and those skills in a way that makes a positive contribution in the world.”
Learn best practices and impact-management strategies from the Best For The World honorees.
Creating Voices of Social Change
Laureate programs impact the lives of students by inspiring social mobility and boosting social entrepreneurship, a mission that is expanding with its new platform, Voices of Social Change. This free online short course is delivered by eight young social entrepreneurs, who share their insights to support budding changemakers with the guidance to pursue their own projects.
Voices of Social Change comes from Laureate’s partnership with the International Youth Foundation (IYF) and B Lab to empower people’s ideas and, ultimately, realize them as initiatives for social good. Throughout the five-week course, students learn how to expand on their ideas and apply lessons from other successful ventures.
“We wanted to make sure there was a clear, tangible outcome,” says Kallum Searle, head of public affairs at Laureate Australia and New Zealand. “So each of the participants will derive a clear action plan. In addition, students will have a network in their country of participants they can connect with.”
Six Laureate student ambassadors from Latin America attended the 2019 Champions Retreat to amplify the organization’s impact. B the Change talked with each of them about what they’ve learned so far and what they hope to achieve, with the support of Laureate.
Angelica Moncada: Supporting Youth Entrepreneurship in Honduras
Angelica Moncada is pursuing her MBA in marketing and international business at UNITEC Honduras in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. She began her journey as a social entrepreneur in 2012 when she founded Club Amor, a local nonprofit supporting children through cancer diagnoses in a public hospital in Tegucigalpa.
“Being in the B Corp community means being in a movement of impacting the world, which is my main focus,” says Moncada.
Her work with Club Amor has expanded into global opportunities, leading to her involvement in Laureate Education and the B Corp community and beyond. In 2017, Moncada completed a one-year internship with the Laureate Global Affairs team to support Laureate’s network awards, social impact and B Corp integration. She has since returned to Honduras, where she hopes to share her knowledge and encourage others as the entrepreneurship and youth coordinator at UNITEC Honduras.
“My main experience is being a professor as an undergrad and teaching entrepreneurship classes right now,” she says. “That’s one of my highlights: Being in front of students, talking from millennial to millennial, and bringing these opportunities … and the Honduran voice to the classroom.”
Barbara Marinho: Helping Kids Beat Cancer in Brazil
Barbara Marinho, a medical student at Universidade Potiguar (UnP) in Brazil, has been passionate about humanitarian medicine since childhood.
“When I was a child, I had an 8-year-old sister who had glioblastoma multiforme, which is an aggressive type of brain tumor,” Marinho says. “I used to be in a hospital all the time with my family, so before I knew I wanted to become a doctor, I knew I wanted to help other people like my sister. Now, I work in the same hospital where she passed away, with other children fighting cancer.”
Marinho has prioritized social responsibility throughout her studies to become a doctor. As part of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Association (IFMSA), she has volunteered for dozens of health and social interventions in her community. Marinho is driven by the mission to promote compassion and humanity in medical training and practice, especially in neglected communities, and she hopes to expand that focus in her future work.
“I’m planning to do humanitarian medicine, so I plan to work outside of Brazil. I’ve worked with Doctors Without Borders before and I want to keep working with them,” she says. “I really like the field of global health, so I plan to get to know more realities and cultures and how can I help by being a doctor in other places, as well as in my home country.”
Christian Cullen: Building Homes and Opportunities in Chile
After 10 years working in business management, Christian Cullen realized that to do more good in the world, he needed to prioritize social benefit over financial profits. So he changed his career path to address one of the biggest forms of inequality in his home country of Chile: housing.
“I thought the best way to help was to start a construction company to build sustainable houses, so people won’t have to worry about the climate or the isolation, water, electricity, anything like that. They just have to live,” says Cullen.
He is now a construction student at Instituto Profesional AIEP in the city of Talca and volunteers with social impact initiatives. His current goal is to create an organization aimed at reducing the housing gap in Chile, which affects more than 2 million people.
“I traveled a lot in my previous work. In Europe especially, they have good ideas for housing solutions. But I need to take these ideas and put them in the Chilean context,” he says.
Gabriella Saporiti: Starting Her Own B Corp in Mexico
Gabriella Saporiti is an entrepreneur and MBA candidate at Universidad del Valle de México (UVM) in Mexico City. She’s currently building her own handmade jewelry business, Carmelate, in a way that gives back to her community and incorporates high-quality jobs into its framework.
“We are growing fast and I really hope soon I can offer job positions, especially for women,” Saporiti says. “I want to create a great working environment, pay my workers fairly, teach them how to do the job well. I want to make conditions for them and their families to have a good life.”
She incorporates sustainable business practices into her company because they align with her personal values. Saporiti is passionate about helping others, which motivates her work as a volunteer and board member at the largest foster home in Mexico City. She coordinates donations, networks with sponsors, and spends time with the children themselves.
“I am a B Corp because I share all these values. I’m already a person who cares about the environment and community, so it just sticks with me and is a natural fit for my business,” she says.
João Fernandes: Educating Young Changemakers in Brazil
João Fernandes is an international relations major from Centro Universitário IBMR in Rio de
Janeiro, Brazil, where he also earned an MBA with a focus on international business management. His emergence into social entrepreneurship has been life-changing, he says, and largely inspired by his upbringing.
“I got a full scholarship because I came from a very poor background. It was important for me because I was raised in one of the most dangerous communities in Brazil. I experienced a lot of wars and gang violence, so my family decided to move to a different part of the city,” Fernandes says. “I was the first of my family to have access to higher education and to experience everything I’m experiencing now, like moving abroad and finishing my MBA, and getting a very nice job.”
He is participating in a one-year fellowship with the Laureate Global Affairs team, serving and inspiring his peers to become social changemakers. Fernandes believes in making a positive impact in his professional life, which is why he wants to pursue a master’s degree in communications upon completing his fellowship, work in education, and continue promoting the mission of Laureate and the larger B Corp movement.
“I think B Corps are the answer for many problems today,” he says. “This is what everyone was seeking for a long time, but nobody could work together to create a program, a structure to help businesses create positive impact. This certification means a lot to every company, and I want to help other companies get certified and support this community of change leaders to help create more impact.”
Lisa Mestres: Teaching English to Children in Peru
As an international business major at Universidad Privada del Norte (UPN) in Trujillo, Peru, Lisa Mestres is interested in learning more about international diversity and making connections despite differences. Her experience moving from the U.S. to Peru at a young age has given her a special interest in teaching English.
“I’ve had a job teaching English to kids in a private company, and it gives me gratification, but trying to help someone who doesn’t have the means to be able to pursue it and feels alone in this world — just being able to help them and lift them up to achieve their goals is meaningful,” Mestres says. “They’re used to seeing so much need around them rather than people who are there with them and helping them.”
Beyond her studies, Mestres volunteers as an English teacher with children in underprivileged communities in Peru. She stays active with volunteer work at different organizations at UPN and in her community. Mestres is devoted to making a positive impact in both her personal and professional life.
“I feel very connected to B Corp values because they signify doing business as a force for good, so I can have my own business and provide education for kids who need it. That is ultimately my goal: Become a B Corp and provide the English instruction that’s really needed in my country,” she says.
B the Change gathers and shares the voices from within the movement of people using business as a force for good and the community of Certified B Corporations. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the nonprofit B Lab.
How This B Corp Provides Access to Education as a Force For Good was originally published in B the Change on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
Source: B the Change