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ZUCA - Walking towards the future

ZUCA is the first rural advisory group that guides and teaches young graduates economic, legal and social life skills.

Photo of Nestor Restrepo Rodríguez
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

ZUCA’s goal is to give young people a socio-economic vision that is different from the academic one, and to provide the minimum necessary tools for them to become entrepreneurs with a vision of the future in specific commercial activities. We want to achieve this in a sustainable manner and in such a way that these young people can become more easily integrated into the social and economic development of the country, to make them capable of increasing the job offers in rural regions, to contribute to the welfare of the community, and to promote a more peaceful coexistence.

ZUCA will be the first Advisory Group established in rural areas which aims to offer a new opportunity for these young graduates that don’t have a chance to attend a university -and therefore are unable to apply for a job- to learn a wide range of practical life skills in new and creative ways.

How it works: our team maps out and identifies professionals and experts from the legal sector of Bogotá (the closest city to the region and capital of our country) that have had experience in the academic field and are interested in creating a positive impact in the younger generation of our rural regions. Our program is offered to those students that cannot access a college degree either because they have no financial possibilities to do so or because they dropped out of school before completing their basic studies.

The topics covered by ZUCA are oriented towards business management and production and distribution of goods. The theory will be complemented by experiential workshops and practical exercises from the local context. Interested students register in the course of their preference and once they have completed the course and if they come up with potential business models that can be implemented in the territory with the help of our local partners, they are chosen to begin a process of mentorship with our team lead.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries are young men and women of the village of Tena (Cundinamarca – Colombia) from ages 15 to 21 that have graduated from school and are transitioning towards an uncertain future: either applying for a job, applying for collage or, looking forward to start their own business. ZUCA is also opened to work with those young kids that have decided to drop out of school due to personal conditions.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

The main value that ZUCA brings to the social impact sector is that the experience of the firm and it’s team comes from the legal industry, which no other social innovation model has yet explored. ZUCA approaches unemployment from a new perspective, seeing it as an opportunity to explore new commercial activities in the region. Since the team has a prior knowledge regarding the legal framework of our country required to develop businesses, this would give the specific projects more possibilities to be implemented. ZUCA is the first initiative that will take a specific complex knowledge to the rural areas and that will allow our young rural population to learn what they never had the chance to study in school or in their own households while figuring out their futures. We will become the first advisory group in Colombia that builds a connection between the experiences of academic and professionals from urban areas closer to the youth from rural areas in creative and human-centered ways

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Restasoc's purpose is to provide legal services to our clients, as well as training workshops in issues related with international commerce (both of services and goods), maritime and land transportation, custom services, etc. We have a great experience in the academic field as well, teaching several courses related to these topics.

Expertise in sector

  • 5-7 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered company.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

I grew up in a humble family with not as many opportunities as others. I had to work throughout school and college to support them. Growing up, I wish I had learned different skills that would’ve help me to provide for them. I left my small town searching for opportunities. I don’t regret the choices I made, but if I had had a more comprehensive education, I could’ve helped in the development of Colombia’s rural region, which is often forgotten but much needed for its sustainable development.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

A big number of young school graduates from rural areas face a harsh reality when they realize they can’t enter university. Their frustration is huge and sometimes leads them to illegal activities. This has caused a serious injury to a peaceful coexistence. The regular basic studies in Colombia educate young people in specific academic topics which are mostly oriented to university studies. Although public schools train students in academic disciplines, they do not encourage the learning of practical knowledge to confront the issues that arise on their daily life, nor do they prepare them for it. This knowledge is key to a successful personal and professional development.
Learning such skills in the appropriate time guarantees the generation of employment, wealth and the achievement of individual and collective progress. Leaving young people unattended exposes them to illegality and implies losing an opportunity to raise law-abiding people with a vision of nation and coexistence.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

The partners involved in the development of ZUCA, are:
1. The Mayor’s Office with its Social and Development Office, which will provide help in locating those areas of opportunity in which to focus the development of specific projects that could lead to the generation of different jobs.
2. Tena’s public school (“Colegio Departamental Fidel Cano”), which will provide the information of graduate students that are interested in participating in our project. Its staff will also support to identify specific needs, hopes and expectations from the young graduates. They will also help us connect with their families so that we can create better supporting systems for them to thrive.
3. The local parish, which will provide infrastructure and outreach with the local community;
4. Local farmers from the area, which can provide different spaces in which to practice what the students effectively learn and offer the natural and agricultural resources to test and prototype future ideas.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Tena has a very fertile land, which allows for various types of fruit crops, such as orange, guava and mango, as well as coffee crops. The land is also known for its diverse flora, which includes Heliconians that stand out for their beauty. Tena’s community is known not only for its resilience, but also for their entrepreneurship spirit. They are hardworking, happy people, eager to learn and to make the best of their territory, which as of today has not been used to its full potential.

Geographic Focus

Tena is a small town located 2 hours from Bogotá, in the Departament of Cundinamarca (Colombia).

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

Stage 1: While the advertising of ZUCA’s program takes place, our team identifies, maps out and invites the experts who wish to participate as facilitators of our workshops (6 months)
Stage 2: The program lasts 18 months, starting with the training workshops with an average duration of 1.5 month per module
Stage 3: Once the ZUCA program is completed, and if the conditions are there to start a business under this project, its scope could be extended to stablish the business and its operations

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

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Photo of Liliana Perez Rojas
Team

I think when ideas like this are born from people of such different backgrounds is when real magic can come to action and start changing the world. Congratulations for this beautiful and powerful idea which certainly will help a lot of young kids to fulfill their dreams!!