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A process of alignment of key actors, generation of action plans, and strengthening of business processes with entrepreneurs, organizations and institutions in the northern part of Costa Rica is carried out by VIVA Idea and the VIVA Idea Schmidheiny Sustainability Chair of INCAE Business School with the support of USAID El Salvador and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Costa Rica.

The initiative “I contribute to my community” brought together close to 40 participants from the cantons of Upala, Guatuso and San Carlos and organizations present in the area, such as municipalities, universities, cooperatives and public institutions.

It is a process of co-creation and the search for sustainable solutions for people from an innovation and market approach to generate opportunities for improving the quality of life. The participants are entrepreneurs, productive organizations and the living forces of the area, all with contributions to make to their own communities.

The agenda includes the identification of challenges, opportunities and the co-creation of ideas, the definition of a collective agenda, the design of collaborative models and the presentation of cases of the participants.

The workshops have involved a process of alignment of initiatives and trends that influence the business ideas of the productive enterprises proposed or underway in the area, as well as the analysis of value creation, resources, roles and leadership necessary to carry them forward.

This is a pilot plan on the part of the IOM, which has asked VIVA Idea to apply its work methodologies in relation to the implementation of action plans and analysis of proposals and the establishment of priorities so that the participants themselves can obtain a clear direction in the continuity and strengthening of their business ideas that benefit their own families and communities.

“In the workshops we have seen that women have strong leadership in generating initiatives that involve different sectors of their communities and that there are ideas to put into practice. Our methodology helps them to prioritize actions, identify trends and look for initiatives that can be implemented to enhance the work of each of the participants,” said Urs Jäger, executive director of VIVA Idea and facilitator of the workshop, along with other specialists from both VIVA Idea and INCAE Business School.

The process seeks to identify bottom-up innovation processes, that is, from the communities themselves and that can scale up to be generators of mobility towards social progress, both for individuals and their communities.

“We see that there is a lot of potential in the initiatives of the northern zone and that by identifying trends and initiatives that promote them, there is an opportunity for the creation and growth of productive enterprises that bring linkages to the communities. There is also space to generate integral projects that guide the initiatives in greater depth, linking them with other actors of impact investment or leverage so that people can move forward”, added Urs Jäger.

One of the speakers at the beginning of the process was Jaime García, director for Latin America of the Social Progress Imperative, an organization that systematizes and creates the Human Development Index, who pointed out that “we have seen that in the northern zone the presence of cooperatives and productive initiatives of this type generates better community performance in the human development index”, which is a clear sign of the direction to follow.

For VIVA Idea this is an opportunity to contribute the knowledge it has gained from research in regions with similar conditions in different countries that have been developed through the methodology of “action-oriented research”, which means a constant feedback between social impact and research to generate knowledge that is applicable in the communities where the organization works.