In 10 years of existence, the “Emprender Paz” Award (Sida’s Innovation for Peace Challenge Fund for Colombia) has recognised the work of private sector organizations that have deliberately taken the option of developing productive and inclusive initiatives to generate opportunities for social and economic inclusion in communities and territories affected by violence in Colombia. Both companies and communities are the heroes of the award. They both agree on a more responsible understanding of their role in society and the need for their contribution to the development of territories, the creation of real economic opportunities and the search for solid consensus as a foundation for ending violence and building peace. Sida has been funding this initiative since 2013, providing technical support and recognition to 19 companies.
After interviewing awarded companies and learning directly from them how valuable the prize was for their businesses, we interviewed Magda Tamayo who has been the Award Coordinator since 2016. She told us that one of the best things of being part of the award is “the possibility of knowing remote areas of the country, reaching excluded communities and to discover how despite the adversities, violence and poverty, people develop their productive activities with hope and optimism to reach new markets”. There are many storiesshe says, “all with mosquito bites, but full of great experiences”.
The biggest challenge is to convince companies to apply. Some companies are interested in keeping a low profile, others have limited time to fill out a format, others have some resistance because they think that participating puts them in favour or against a certain political trend, and for others, it is not so attractive because the prize in money it is not so significant. The Challenge Fund team’s role is to convince them, to show them the importance of participating, not because of recognition, but because from these examples, other companies begin to see that the private sector has a role to play in the development of peace. To overcome this challenge, they support the companies in the application process and promote, not only the winners, but also those that reach the final stage of the selection process.
Since 2007, 44 companies have been awarded and supported with technical advice, promotion of their initiatives and recognition. Between 2007-2016, over 7000 people have benefited by the supported initiatives.
“For me, Emprender Paz Award is a great opportunity to meet business people, and discover success stories and learn how some people manage to create job opportunities and generate income for many other people”
-Magda Tamayo, “Emprender Paz” Award Coordinator