Andrea Gonzalez-Negron

  • Founder, Salto Peru
  • Peru

Impact area: Economic empowerment; Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8

While the Covid-19 pandemic has exacted an enormous toll on lives and livelihoods, it’s also true that new opportunities were created, for example, a surge in the purchase of goods and services online.

Social innovator Andrea Gonzales-Negron saw in the growth of online commerce and broader digitalization trends the potential for societal benefit. With a grant from the Global Youth Resiliency Fund, she launched the Atisun Lab to support young Peruvian leaders, ages 18 to 35, in conceptualizing impact ventures with a web-based component.

“The lack of opportunities for underprivileged Peruvian youth to generate sustainable incomes was exacerbated by the pandemic,” says Andrea, “But it also created an opportunity for geographically isolated areas to leapfrog and integrate into larger supply chains digitally. Atisun Lab emerged as a natural extension of Salto Peru, which Andrea founded in 2015 to help micro-entrepreneurs grow their businesses with the support of university student consultants.

Promoted through a robust social media campaign, Atisun Lab selected 25 young people from cities across the country—Cusco, Lima, Arequipa, Ucayali, Junin, Puno, and Tacna—to participate in a digital business pre-incubator. Youth were chosen based on their leadership skills, proactivity, commitment, and experience in entrepreneurship. Online training sessions covered topics ranging from design thinking, coding, and website development to social media marketing.

A challenge for the Atisun team was pushing participants beyond their comfort zone, particularly those from non-tech backgrounds. With the support of a digital mentor, all successfully completed the training stage.

The youth then formed five teams, each tasked with developing an innovative, scalable business idea capable of generating socioeconomic impact. Their concepts included web-based platforms for: providing individuals with motor disabilities with a second job, marketing the products of women artisans, promoting the economic growth of local restaurants, facilitating the adoption of abandoned pets, and supporting individuals struggling with anxiety, stress, and insomnia during the pandemic.

Aspiring entrepreneur Raquel Mamani gained new hard and soft skills that strengthened her confidence overall. “With the methodology applied in the program, I learned a lot of things—programming, web design, and online applications—that I didn’t like much in the past,” she says. “Now I’m very fond of these things.” Raquel valued the chance to collaborate with like-minded peers. “I met a lot of young people from different parts of the country who aspire to be social entrepreneurs,” she says. “Together, we could develop better ideas.” Raquel’s project facilitating the adoption of abandoned pets received funding with a website now in development. 

After a successful first run, Atisun Lab is now supporting its second class of 25 young leaders.

Get to know Salto Peru better here.