A new edition of the South American Business Forum begun today. The Directors of the organisation delivered a brief institutional openning, which was completed by an introduction to this edition’s Main Topic – The Challenge of Inclusion – by José Luis Roces, dean of the Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires. Here, a summary on the first session of this 11th edition of the conference.
Panel – Empowering South America
During this panel, made up of Marcelo Elizondo (General Director of DNI), Javier Ureta (Founder of Cascos Verdes), Diego Luzuriaga (ITBA Postgraduate School Director), and Félix Peña (ICBC Foundation Director) as moderator, several ways of taking South America towards innovation and inclusion were discussed. South America is a complicated market to innovated, due to market instabilities and Estate interventionism. Besides, it is difficult to achieve an innovative and ordered climate at the same time.
In order to achieve this creative and ordered climate the possibility of implementing education and public awareness tools has been discussed. At the same time, a great part of the population is not included in the system of satisfying basic needs, and this is a major obstacle regarding innovation.
Key Note – The Resources Dilemma
Agustín Etchebarne, Founder and General Director of “Libertad y Progreso”, begun his lecture showing historical data on worldwide poverty since the 1800’s, when life expectancy was, at most, 45 years old and 35 on average. On 2010 all countries in the world had surpassed that expectancy.
Etchebarne believes that the human being holds an intrinsic pessimism, which alters reality on an opposite way. According to official data, there has been an exponential worldwide growth of the GDP and life expectancy, while poverty levels and the breach between “poor” and “rich” have gone down. How did this happen? Etchebarne said: “The only thing necessary to abandon poverty levels is a rule of law”, a set of unbreakable rules that guarantee non-unitarian decisions and property rights.
Interactive Activity – SABF Thesis
An innovative and creative activity. The 100 participants begun this session taking all their prejudice and assumptions away, by simple group exercises that brought some laughter and a relaxed climate. Then they divided themselves in small groups, in order to suggest solutions to one of the following problems, presented by the moderator Fernando Johann:
- Kids dropping out of school
- Access to drinking water
- Low recycle rates
- Low innovation footprint
Using an internal platform, especially coded for the event, the groups voted and the first option was chosen: how to finish with school dropout. Then, through several iterations guided by Johann, the question turned into suggesting an easy, immediately applicable, cheap, sustainable, high-impact solution.
After 87 minutes of proposals and improvements, a total of 25 solutions that matched all criteria were found. A number that showed clearly that the solution to the problem was actually feasible. The goal was to raise awareness on the present generation on the fact that most problems have solutions and that everything begins by eliminating assumptions and prejudice, and mating with people with a common goal.
The closing session had Diego Luzuriaga once again as a protagonist. After delivering a brief summary of the diverse subjects tackled by each speaker, he tried to establish a concrete idea around the concept of “inclusion”, stating that it is achieved “when there are no more differences on the who and the where, only equality of conditions and opportunities”. The main challenge here is to find the tools that will allow this objective to be reached.
He tried to strengthen an agenda that is not well positioned nowadays, the one generating this equality of opportunities, by asking questions to the audience. Result-driven measures, very common in Latin America, only create more inequality and, with it, more violence and social disintegration.