How the YLAI Network Innovates

The YLAI Network is a vibrant community of young entrepreneurs and change makers from Latin America and the Caribbean. YLAI Network members are committed to developing their leadership and organizational skills to foster economic development, security, human rights and good governance in the hemisphere. These are some of their stories.

Claudia Bibiana Ruiz

Claudia Bibiana Ruiz teaches English in Bogota, Colombia. Unfortunately, she found that some of her students were too shy to speak up in front of their classmates, and that she didn’t have enough time in the classroom to make sure everyone was comfortable. So she took her class online.

Ruiz used WhatsApp’s group chat function to create a virtual classroom for her students where they could “practice and learn with their friends.” It was a huge success. Even the shy students, she said, “felt happy and comfortable speaking in English on their mobile phones.” Now, even though the class has ended, she says her students are still keeping in touch and practicing through the group.

Lucia Cosenza

Lucia Cosenza is a porcelain painter in Guatemala City, Guatemala. She wanted to use her knowledge of ceramics to help people suffering from depression, low self-esteem, and anxiety. “Art-therapy is an incredible curative way to get in touch with our essence,” she says.

Cosenza set out to design her program, and, using herself as an example, made a documentary about making ceramics and how it can be used to improve mental health. Now, she’s expanding her program and reaching out to help more people. Her connection to the YLAI Network offers a chance to learn from her peers and scale her organization.

Alexandra Parra

Alexandra Parra was doing research one day and discovered that there are more than 10,000 pet stores in her home country of Peru. Many of them make high quality handmade products and offer extensive pampering and grooming services. The only problem was that because they were mostly small businesses they didn’t have the ability to reach a wide range of customers.

So Parra founded vetplace.pe, an online store to help connect the artisanal pet stores with the more than 3 million pet owners in Peru. The website operates as an online platform to bring the wide variety of services, food, and squeaky toys to pet owners around the country and to expand the businesses of the local suppliers. As a part of the YLAI Network, Parra will be able to benefit from the online expertise of her peers and grown and develop her business.