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Interview: Francisco Tancredi

Why is the Experiences in Social Innovation award so important?
Rarely do innovations in the social sector, or social technologies developed by society, acquire the necessary visibility. This hinders their replication. Unlike industrial technology, which is created, patented and marketed, social technologies depend on the spread of information for other interested parties to notice them, adapt them to their own realities and, in turn, replicate them. Lending visibility to these initiatives is no easy task. The scope of the communication of social organizations is limited. This being the case, an award such as this helps raise visibility. And it also enables innovative experiences to influence public policy and more far-reaching programs.

What impact can the award have on the communities involved?
One important aspect is to show the communities of social entrepreneurs that they are part of a larger group, formed by projects and organizations from across Latin America and the Caribbean, one that also pursues regional development. In short, the award helps foster a sense of belonging to an enterprise with a greater impact, enabling the participants to meet one another, share their experiences and set up networks that can further this development. Finally, the contest aims to provide public recognition for these innovative initiatives.

Why did the Kellogg Foundation decide to support the Experiences in Social Innovation award organized by ECLAC?
Because the Kellogg Foundation is committed to the development of Latin America and the Caribbean. We strive to recognize community leaders who can shore up regional development – making these people protagonists. Our support for the Experiences in Social Innovation contest is a natural consequence of this policy. The Kellogg Foundation wants society and government from the region to recognize, take seriously and dialogue with the social organizations that have developed innovative schemes to redress their own problems – which are the major problems facing Latin America and the Caribbean. The Kellogg Foundation, founded by William Keith Kellogg 76 years ago, has worked alongside these social developers since it started its activities in the region 65 years ago.

How does the support for the Experiences in Social Innovation contest fit in with the strategy of the Kellogg Foundation?
Our support for this initiative is in line with a leadership development strategy in Latin America and the Caribbean that aims to strengthen innovative ideas and institutions as a means of stimulating this growth.

This is the second cycle of the award, which began last year. What is your assessment of the initiative?
The assessment is very positive, given that one of the objectives of the award is to identify innovative initiatives. Last year, ECLAC received 1600 entries from the region, of which nearly 900 were well structured enough to be recognized. In the current cycle, there were nearly 1000 entries. Considering that we are talking about an initiative that was launched quite recently, I can confidently say that it is helping Latin America and the Caribbean to better understand the creative potential of its social actors.

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