TEXT: RAMÓN OLIVER IMAGES : ISTOCK
The semifinals of the Fundación MAPFRE Social Innovation Awards were held for both Brazil and the rest of Latin America last July. The European semifinal will take place in September, thus completing the group of nine finalists who will be competing in each of the categories at the final to be held in Madrid on October 17.
The Fundación MAPFRE Social Innovation Awards, run in collaboration with IE Business School, are entering the final phase. We already know six of the nine finalists in this first edition and it is already clear that this is set to become a benchmark event as regards supporting social entrepreneurship worldwide. Three categories, three geographical areas and 27 projects in competition. The goal: to identify, support and afford visibility to innovative solutions offering great potential for social impact in the environments in which they operate. Imaginative proposals for improving the world in which we live, focusing attention on the effects of globalization and the technological revolution. These are the guidelines for this contest which boasts prize money of 30,000 euros for each of the three categories. Moreover, there are additional services for the winners, such as support, guidance and assistance in the form of mentoring and coaching processes.
Throughout the month of July the semifinals were held for both Brazil and the rest of Latin America. However, it will not be until September when this phase takes place in the European area. Once the identity of the nine finalists is determined, they will all compete in the grand final at an event scheduled to take place in Madrid on October 17. It is there that those responsible for these social initiatives will have the opportunity to present their projects before an expert jury made up of specialists in such diverse fields as insurance, health, teaching, technology, social innovation or entrepreneurship. In order to choose the winners of each category, the jury’s assessment criteria will include the following aspects: their innovation; their technical, economic and organizational viability; their social impact; the capacity and experience of their management team; the maturity of the idea, corroborated by pilot tests and trials; or the associated legal aspects.
The fact is that this contes t is not only intended to reward good intentions or brilliant ideas, but rather the true capacity of their architects to implement them and thus manage to make a tangible impact on people’s lives. What is being sought? Innovative initiatives of a social nature to solve specific problems and improve the living conditions of the population groups targeted.
933 projects were submitted for this first edition of the Fundación MAPFRE Social Innovation Awards, 462 of which were able to demonstrate that they met all the requirements to participate in the contest. After the initial stages, only 27 projects – nine for each area – reached the semifinals. The LATAM region was the first to celebrate this qualifying phase. The event took place on July 12 at the Interactive Museum of Economics in Mexico City. Three projects from Chile, two each from Colombia and Mexico, and one each from Peru and Ecuador disputed the muchdesired right to opt for the final prize in Madrid. All of them highly disruptive projects, whose common features are social responsibility, the green economy, sustainability, technological innovation and inclusion.
Days later, on July 26, the Brazilian semifinal was held in the city of São Paulo. The decision was just as difficult there, given the quality of the candidate projects.
The six finalists, together with the three winners of the European semifinal, will compete in the final in October. The manner in which their projects are presented will have a significant bearing on the final decision; this is why they are going to receive coaching to help them communicate and develop their proposals in the most effective way. Moreover, this event will also serve as an interesting showcase to potential investors and funders, and so they will also be given access to a public relations plan in order to boost the visibility of their projects.
Category: Improvements in health and digital technology (e-Health)
(Chile): Oliber (Chile)
Eating, writing, brushing teeth… any everyday activity can become a nightmare for people who suffer hand muscle atrophy as a result of some accident or disease. Several Chilean students were determined to find a solution to this problem by way of innovative orthotic devices that enhance the autonomy and quality of life of these individuals. These devices are a better alternative to traditional prostheses, which often present adaptation problems, or even pain for those who use them. Basically, the difference between the two is that, while the former are elements which facilitate performing activities, the latter replace a part of the body.
Oliber’s goal is to liberate people with crippled hands from many of their limitations. The orthotic devices wrap around the patient’s hands and are made from a material that does not harm the skin or cause other discomforts. They are fitted with magnets which allow them to pick up items of various sizes.
For Camila Vivallo, one of the project’s founders, there is nothing like Oliber anywhere in the world. “A low-cost product that is very easy to use, requires no training and is intuitive and practical. At this moment in time, there is nothing like this on the market. Not only is it considerably cheaper, but it is also practical, given that prostheses are often very difficult to use and heavier, and so users get fed up and stop using them. Our product has been endorsed by specialists and even they cannot believe that no one has thought of something like this before,” he declares proudly.
Oliber says that their project “is changing lives worldwide, offering a low-cost solution to a problem that remained largely unresolved or unaffordable. Especially for that 70 percent of the world with scant resources and no access to solutions such as these.”
Camila believes that Fundación MAPFRE is doing a great job supporting social innovation, “and not many institutions in the world do that.” That is why, when they saw the chance to submit their project to this contest, they did not hesitate for even a second. “We need that boost to keep growing and take our solution to the whole world. At the same time, they have provided us with the tools and support necessary to continue, and we are truly grateful to have reached this far. We could never have imagined it,” she says.
Category: Innovation in Insurance: Comunidad 4UNO (Mexico)
“In Mexico there are some 2.5 million domestic workers, 60 percent of whom support their entire family, and 98 percent have no access to formal financial services such as savings, credit, social security and insurance. Moreover, 95 percent of domestic workers are women and, of these, 80 percent are the breadwinners in their families. Domestic workers and their families are extremely vulnerable to financial disasters, given that their members have no access to insurance or savings tools, and much less medical care or financial education, nor are they eligible to receive credit.” This panorama, related by Miguel Duhalt, one of the project’s founders, is what motivated them to launch Comunidad 4UNO.
The service is contracted by an employer and the process is really easy: simply choose the plan that best suits the circumstances in each case, fill in the name and telephone number of the employee, and pay with a credit card. There are four plans available that offer different associated benefits such as accident insurance, medical consultations, discounts in pharmacies, or the possibility of obtaining a debit card.
The way it works is very straightforward, as Miguel explains: “for less than 53 dollars, the employer of a domestic worker pays for membership which includes one year’s cover against occupational accidents, free medical consultations, a bank account and a debit card that enables employees to receive electronic payments through the platform. This helps workers to start receiving a regular wage, which enables them to build up a credit history and eventually gain access to formal credit. It also includes automatic connection to a retirement fund, which means the domestic workers can save each week for their retirement. The domestic workers can also access online financial education courses. All this proves possible because 4UNO is connected digitally to the largest financial institutions in Mexico. 4UNO simultaneously opens up new markets and offers existing low-cost products to a neglected population.”
In this way, Comunidad 4UNO is achieving a significant improvement in the quality of life of these people and, both they and their employers, gain peace of mind and empowerment. The project has already helped thousands of domestic workers and their families to deal with accidents and diseases, to generate a credit record, and save for contingencies and for their retirement.
Category: Mobility and Road Safety: Lazarillo (Chile)
What most motivated René Espinoza Jiménez to submit his project was the fact that the focus was on social innovation. Because, for him, the greatest value his project possesses is its social impact.
René, CEO of Lazarillo, tells us that the aim of his app is to help enhance the autonomy of people with visual impairment, when they need to make journeys and, in particular, to find whereservices are and move around inside them, thanks to indoor positioning technology.
This guiding application for cell phones enables blind and low vision people to know their current location at all times and to get information about bus stops, coffee shops, banks, restaurants, street intersections and other services. It also facilitates finding specific destinations, as well as obtaining directions on how to reach them using different means of transport.
And, the most important thing, this is a self-sustaining project. “Lazarillo is unique since it is an app which is free throughout the world and maintained thanks to a business model created ad hoc to sustain it: the system is sold to enterprises and public organizations, which enables these organizations to improve their accessibility, and also offers a service to send localized commercial offers or information to their customers,” he states.
Lazarillo seeks to link people with the place where they live, helping them to enhance their autonomy and independence. The goal of its promoters is for it to become the number one information platform for people with visual disabilities. The application, which is currently available in English and Spanish, already works all over the world, given that, in addition to its own resources, it uses the principal international databases to feed data into their maps.
Category: Improvements in health and digital technology (e-Health): Beaba
Few words cause so much distress and fear as “cancer”. A vast amount of information is generated daily about this serious disease, but also a great deal of disinformation that does nothing to help patients and their relatives combat it properly, especially when those suffering are children and adolescents. Beaba attempts to demystify cancer by offering clear, objective, optimistic information about the disease and its treatment. All this employing a language and visual codes tailored to suit children and youngsters.
Simone Lehwess Mozzilli, explains, the project addresses this really difficult topic of cancer, “but in an innovative way,” she says, “using information design and architecture to demystify the disease and its treatment. For example, instead of talking about hair falling out because chemotherapy is so harsh, we explain that it is because hair cells multiply as quickly as the cancer cells, and many medications are not yet able to differentiate and thus solely target the tumor cells. This enables patients to understand, learn and demonstrate greater commitment to the treatment when they know what is happening to them.”
This internationally recognized project is made up of cancer patients and former patients, health professionals, advertising creatives and social entrepreneurs. All the information has been prepared by a team of health professionals, creatives, programmers and, most importantly, by patients, an aspect Simone believes is truly innovative in the health care field. “The information not only focuses on the patient, but it is also created by patients, focusing on how they would like to be informed,” she says.
In the four years it has been running, this initiative has already had an impact on 500,000 people, and 15,000 patients have benefited from it. Its application Alpha Beat Cancer has been downloaded 13,000 times and 4,000 books have been distributed. The app is available on the principal platforms and features 20 minigames offering information about cancer and its treatments in a playoriented – yet, at the same time, rigorous – fashion.
Category: Innovation in Insurance: Pluvi.on
Pluvi.on is a climate monitoring system that offers accurate information and reliable forecasts in real time, thus achieving a high socio-environmental impact. Based on data management, the system is designed to reduce losses caused by extreme climate conditions, such as floods and landslides. To do so, Pluvi. on uses supercomputers capable of a high degree of accuracy when predicting whether it is going to rain in a city, neighborhood or, even, in a specific street. The system collects and processes huge amounts of data and learns as it goes along, thus progressively improving its predictions.
For Diogo Tolezano, CEO of Pluvi.on, what is most important is that the system of real time climate sensors they have developed can send out flood and landslide warnings directly to the population. “Having this information on their cell phones, especially for people who live in vulnerable areas, gives them enough time to move somewhere safe, avoiding risks and even saving some of their assets, thus reducing their losses,” he says.
The company’s goal, if they manage to win the prize offered by Fundación MAPFRE, is to install one hundred more weather stations in vulnerable areas of São Paulo. “We will thus help over two million people to receive a warning of these risks and to be able to save their assets and, in some cases, their lives,” Diogo explains. He goes on to say that, “winning this social innovation award would be a way for us to multiply our impact, helping us to expand our network of sensors and extend the warning system to other regions.”
This successful initiative was the first start-up invited by the United Nations to form part of United Smart Cities, a global platform that presents solutions to improve life in different cities around the world.
Category: Mobility and Road Safety: Zumpy
Shared mobility can also fulfill a social mission. Zumpy is an app that helps to reduce pollution, safety concerns and the transport costs of users. This carpooling platform was born out of the belief that a sustainable, collaborative, ecological future which is attentive to environmental needs is possible.
“When we learned of the Fundación MAPFRE Social Innovation Award, we were immediately interested in participating, given that it’s an institution recognized worldwide for its support of social impact projects, and the chance for us to introduce Zumpy to a world audience.” With these words, André Henrique Correa de Andrade, founding partner of this initiative, tells us how they came to submit their project to these awards, “we are really proud to represent Brazil in the final in Madrid.”
Zumpy is a sustainable project that helps reduce emissions of CO2 and increases the options for commuters and other users, as well as offering significant savings for both drivers and passengers in their travel expenses. Their solution reduces the number of vehicles on the streets and eases public transit overcrowding, making it easier for people heading to the same destination to do so safely. “We have managed to reduce transportation costs and also decrease the amount of pollutant emission generated by city traffic on a daily basis,” he states.
For André, Zumpy is not just another app; “what sets this application apart is the segmentation with security filters and the tool which allows users to limit ride-sharing to Facebook friends, moderated groups or groups of companies that they themselves create in the app. For example, women can opt for solely traveling with other women. In addition, Zumpy is the only application that, using approved methodologies, can measure the amount of CO2 emissions prevented thanks to sharing vehicles,” he explains.
“To date, we have managed to organize over 525,000 ride-sharing journeys and save the environment more than 6,500 metric tons of CO2 emissions,” he proudly remarks.