Medellín, a Colombian city once known solely for its powerful drug cartel, isn’t letting its past interfere with a bright future. Last month, Medellín was named the world’s most innovative city by the nonprofit Urban Land Institute, launching its name into the global sphere.
The piece below on a Medellín entrepreneur was translated and edited from the original Spanish version on the blog of our Spanish site, Idealistas.
Andrea Cornejo has a question: What role can technology play in reducing the levels of poverty and inequality in Latin America? Can we improve the economy of the region if more kids understand and are able to interact with technology to provide answers to the problems of their communities?
Her guess is yes—and she plans to demonstrate this through Coderise, a project that empowers young students from developing countries by teaching them to create web applications. After its pilot project, the first round will be held in Medellín in October this year.
But this is just one of the many initiatives launched by Andrea. This natural entrepreneur is certain that her mission in life is to reduce poverty. Today it’s called Coderise, but yesterday it was called Viña Vieja Project or Social Emprende, a website that seeks to aggregate social enterprises in Latin America.
What was it that led to the idea of creating Coderise? Where did you see a problem?
When you look at the most successful programmers out there, you realize that success does not depend on if you were born into a good family, but your curiosity and access to a computer.
When we talk about technology, any child could be the next person to change the world. You just need to have the tools of knowledge and inspiration to do so.
For example, in Coderise we are not only teaching students programming skills, but we are also teaching them how to learn. When students complete Coderise, they don’t leave as programmers because that was never the goal. The objective is to integrate the technology into the community and put the tools to create in their hands—so that they have the same opportunity as any other child in the world to make an impact.
What inspired you to take action?
In order to answer the question: “What is the potential of programming technologies in the economic development of our region?” you have to do more than read and write essays.
We have to find these young people and connect them with programming education and inspirational figures leading the technological revolution. And we have to start today.
This is why one day almost a year ago, we launched Coderise.
How do you feel working and devoting your time to a cause like this?
Coderise is breaking boundaries and trying something that has not been tried before. It is worth every effort.
I’m certain that soon Coderise can demonstrate how software development is a field where developing regions, such as Latin America, can catch up with advanced regions and may also reduce socio-economic inequality.
It’s been three months since our first pilot program ran. We can already see that many young people are determined to continue learning after the program and that many are already profiting financially.
Coderise will officially launch in October. For now, Andrea and her team are working on a fundraising campaign to guarantee the program will be completely free for participating kids.