Entrepreneurship for peace

June 26, 2019

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Published in Noticias profesores

By Andrés Barrios Fajardo, Associate Professor at Universidad de los Andes School of Management

This project seeks to design, develop, and implement a methodology that promotes peace agents in the Territorial Spaces of Training and Reincorporation (TSTR) established in the peace agreement in Colombia, using the entrepreneurial approach. The project is developed by the Entrepreneurship Center of Universidad de Los Andes School of Management (Colombia) and Lancaster University (England), and funded by the British Embassy and COLCIENCIAS. The project uses a methodology of Participatory Action Research, aiming at design various alternatives to promote the economic and social reintegration of ex-combatants.

To date, thanks to the application of the methodology, we developed a diagnosis of the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the TSTR of Aguabonita and Miravalle (Caquetá), which showed the following determining elements in the development of productive projects with people in the process of reincorporation: a) Community approach to entrepreneurship, b) Influence of the environment on the entrepreneurial interests of the ex-combatant population, c) (un) trust among the actors of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and d) The business models applied by ex-combatants in their productive projects.

One of the results of the project is the design of the community entrepreneurship program “New Opportunities”. Its objective is to promote the entrepreneurial capacity of the different cooperatives in the TSTR, for the sustainable development of their social and economic projects. The program has three modules: empowerment, innovation, and management. It lasts 44 hours and was designed with the advice of representatives of the United Nations, Colombian government, and ECOMUN’s approval on behalf of FARC, in the region. During the second quarter of 2019, we implemented the program in the TSTR of Aguabonita, and 25 productive project leaders participated and finalized their training. On the second half of the year, we hope to run the program in the TSTR of Miravalle, and to promote a business round between the productive projects of the two TSTR and regional private companies.

According to the United Nations’ Program for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR), a key element for a sustainable peace involves the economic and social reintegration of ex-combatants. However, this is not an easy task and it is not solely the responsibility of the state. Peace building efforts require the alignment of multiple educational, productive, and financial organizations with the purpose of generating sustainable economic opportunities and ultimately, to avoid the emergence of new conflicts, as has occurred in other countries such as Nicaragua, Congo, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Lebanon.

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