Changing the World Through Business

Experiences in social and environmental entrepreneurship

13/05/2013 Barcelona


Catalina Parra (MBA ’96) enjoyed a successful consulting career until one trip, which required that she spend four months in Calcutta, changed her world view. Since then, she has launched three projects aimed at creating greater equality in the world and her vision is clear: "My number one priority is to change the world."

The foundation Hazloposible works to foster greater interaction and participation in society in charitable projects using new technologies. The second project, UEIA, is "the first accelerator of social companies based on new technologies," while the last project Philanthropic Intelligence, advises philanthropists, investors and large institutions.

"Social entrepreneurship strikes a balance between business experience and social commitment," she said during the IESE Continuous Education session, "Social and Environmental Entrepreneurship: Experiences," which was part of series of Finaves events. The session was moderated by IESE Prof. Alberto Fernández Terricabras.

The event, organized by IESE’s Alumni Association, took place on May 9 on the Barcelona campus. During the presentation, Parra described the ideal profile for a social entrepreneur, noting that "there should be a strong motivation, beyond that of just a volunteer."

Supporting local projects

Dídac Ferrer spoke about the co-op which he founded, Tarpuna Coop, where he currently serves as director of innovation. Tarpuna promotes small-scale local projects to generate stable changes. He also works through a cooperative human network, which does not reject technological platforms but maintains a critical view.

He went on to describe several initiatives, such as the creation of urban vegetable gardens and the employment of unused land and other urban spaces for community vegetable gardens, where unemployed people can train and work, while maintaining a small plot for cultivating their own food.

Another project is Infinit Loop, which focuses on reusable "smart" that promote social inclusion. An application allows the user to access information on the life, path and benefits of the "infinitloop" of the gift.

Integral support

Francesc Ventura, director of the Palau Macaya - Obra Social "la Caixa", described the social entrepreneurship program at "la Caixa", its objectives and public. The initiative focuses on fledgling social companies, less than three years old, or a new line of business within an existing social entity. "For the social entrepreneur, the company is a means for making an impact," he said.

Ventura also discussed the "integral support" offered by "la Caixa", which includes executive programs led by IESE. The basic criteria for the selection of projects include: social impact, economic viability, entrepreneurial potential, innovation and project coherence.