The UBS Visionaris Social Entrepreneurship Award was created in 2004 to recognize the work of leading social entrepreneurs in Mexico who are using innovative approaches to solve social problems. The award is organized annually in collaboration with Ashoka, an international NGO that promotes social entrepreneurs globally. A winner and three finalists are selected by an award committee comprised of Mexican philanthropists and the award itself is handed out at a special ceremony attended by more than 150 people. In 2017 AlphaMundi, a new partner joined the Visionaris initiative. AlphaMundi Group Ltd is a Swiss consulting firm specialized in impact investing which was founded in 2008.
Through Visionaris, social entrepreneurs acquire four types of capital, the combination of which can act as catalysts for their social change activities:
- Financial capital: Visionaris grants USD 35,000 to the winner and USD 10,000 to each of the three finalists. The funds have been used for projects which have been strategic for the future of these organizations.
- Social capital: The award ceremony gives finalists the opportunity to meet potential donors and share experiences and best practices with their peers, as well as experts. The media also publishes information regarding their initiatives.
- Symbolic capital: Visionaris recognizes the work carried out by social entrepreneurs and motivates them to continue with their social change efforts.
- Intellectual capital: Prior to the meeting of the selection committee, finalists are trained on project assessment, effective fundraising and tips on how to best present their initiatives.
Each year the Visionaris winner is selected by an award committee consisting of clients and prospects and two UBS executives. The award ceremony was held in Mexico City and attended by 150 philanthropists and members of civil society in Mexico.
With 13 events in Mexico so far, Visionaris has become a fundamental part of the country’s philanthropic community. Philanthropists interested in backing innovative approaches to solving social problems see Visionaris as a pillar on which they can build their philanthropic practice. When one Mexican philanthropist was asked about his participation in the Visionaris award committee he said, "It was an honor to be a part of this jury. All the projects were excellent and I would like to thank UBS and Ashoka for giving me the opportunity to learn about these social change initiatives."
2016 UBS Visionaris Social Entrepreneurship Award winner and finalists
Winner: Saskia Niño de Rivera,
Reinserta un Mexicano
Reinserta un Mexicano exists to make the country safer by working with the invisible Mexico: its prisons. It provides assistance to children who are born and live in prison, helps with re-entry for adolescents who have had problems with the law and frees the innocent from prison. Reinserta works with our prisons’ mother-child population, estimated at 1,300 mothers and children. Its impact will be felt by future generations as the legal reforms it is proposing seek to regulate children’s stay in prison so no minors are in jail. It also aids all imprisoned youth and their families in Mexico City. The organization has helped release 20 people who have been unfairly imprisoned.
Finalist: Alex Eaton,
Sistema Biobolsa Buen Manejo del Campo
Sistema Biobolsa works to improve the lives of small farmers and the farming sector by transforming organic waste into renewable energy (biogas) and organic fertilizer. Thanks to its technology, methodology and financing program it has improved the efficiency, hygiene and productivity of more than 20,000 small farmers. They are currently focusing on replicating and scaling their impact. Sistema Biobolsa has more than 20,000 direct program beneficiaries with close to 3,000 installed systems which turn waste into energy and fertilizer. Their work has social, environmental and economic impacts.
Finalist: Paulina Campos,
Fundación Hogares works nationwide to improve the quality of living of families in low-income housing units. Its mission is to encourage participation and social engagement so as to create communities capable of improving their neighborhood. They have a high-impact intervention methodology based on three pillars which, through urban development, foster the creation of responsible, participative and self-managed communities so they can solve their problems and improve their surroundings. The pillars are: 1) community development, 2) physical urban interventions and 3) research and evaluation.
Finalist: Gabriel Rivera Rio Zambrano,
Altitud is a platform that provides financing to low - income entrepreneurs so they can buy machinery and equipment. It accompanies them and gives them business and production courses and workshops and provides them with the opportunity to strike fair trade business deals with domestic and international companies. They work mostly with the textile and food sector in the states of Mexico and Nuevo Leon. Altitud offers entrepreneurial accompaniment for loans used to purchase production assets so micro-entrepreneurs can earn more.
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