We are living in Latin America and the Caribbean the most important migratory challenge in the history of the western hemisphere. A displacement of almost 4.5 million Venezuelans who have been forced to leave their land, not due to a war or a natural catastrophe, but due to a complex social, political and economic situation that has generated a severe food shortage in the country, medicines, drinking water, electricity and other basic needs, added to problems of insecurity and hyperinflation. It is the world’s largest-scale forced displacement, second only to the crisis in Syria.
The exodus of Venezuelans has had a growing social and economic impact in neighboring countries, including the strain on urban and social services, labor markets, and community relations. The recipient countries, with generosity and solidarity, have made a significant effort to receive and integrate Venezuelans, but the magnitude of the problem requires the search for new solutions, those that can be brought in by innovators and entrepreneurs from around the world to turn the great challenge of migration into an opportunity for inclusive development.
For example, you have thought about how new technologies could improve inclusion and access to urban or social services in the receiving communities; or if there could be an innovative methodology to offer training in different skills to migrants; or if it is possible that a digital platform or mobile application can facilitate access to housing, employment or the sending of remittances.
From the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), through our innovation laboratory, IDB Lab, together with the United States Agency for International Development ( USAID ) and other partners, we have launched last 21 October 2019 the JuntosEsMejor innovation challenge, a global initiative that seeks to identify, finance and scale innovative solutions, from any country in the world, that aim to improve the lives of Venezuelan migrants and their host communities in Latin America and El Caribbean.
Innovation at the service of Venezuelan migrants
JuntosEsMejor is a great open innovation initiative for inclusion that seeks to:
- Raise the voice and ingenuity of Venezuelans to respond to the needs of the regional crisis and report their specific problems to those who propose solutions;
- Connect Venezuelans, host communities and creative minds from anywhere in the world to promote the development of innovative solutions;
- Expand networks between communities and countries to promote collaboration;
- Finance, test, and scale solutions;
- Build an inventory of solutions tested and ready to be implemented.
This global call, framed in the IDB’s migration initiative that supports countries in the region that seek to integrate migrants into their communities and contribute to regional development, will have an application window initially open for 12 months (with cuts and evaluations periodic). It seeks to support the best solutions – in development, tested or ready to scale – that can be implemented in one or more countries in the region with the highest Venezuelan migration * ( may change depending on the situation in development): Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Panama, Trinidad, and Tobago or Venezuela (in the latter with funds from USAID).
What do you need to know about this innovation challenge?
They can apply for proposals from entrepreneurs, startups, private companies, organizations, or foundations from anywhere in the world (Venezuelan or foreign) that have innovative solutions focused on migrants and that can be adapted to the regional context of Latin America and the Caribbean.
We look for solutions focused on improving the lives of migrants thinking about people and their relationships with the community, access to services (urban or social), improving productivity for entrepreneurship or access to employment, and financial solutions to facilitate access to capital or remittances.
We promote the application of practical, ready, and implementable solutions, from an innovative approach (unconventional or routine), and inclusive for all migrants and neighbors of their receiving communities. Likewise, that they are focused on the beneficiary, scalable, sustainable, aligned to the local context, with a measurable impact and that they promote transparent processes with a responsible implementation that does not violate the rights of third parties.
Participants can obtain financing and technical advice within one of these 4 categories:
- Discovery Level: Up to $ 25,000 to develop and test an early-stage idea.
- Pilot level: up to USD 250,000 to test and evaluate an existing prototype in the context of the regional migration crisis
- Validation level: up to USD 500,000 to test the suitability of a successful pilot to a broader market
- Escalation level: up to USD 1.5 million for initiatives with proven commercial viability or already connected to the public sector.