Awards, Prizes, Assistance and Support for Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs in Colombia


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This information is designed to encourage Colombian social and environmental entrepreneurs to take advantage of local, national and international opportunities. There are several prizes, awards and even volunteer opportunities available that can help entrepreneurs to grow personally or to establish and improve a sustainable business.

The opportunities specific to Colombia are described briefly to follow, including links to each program's page. We also encourage you to view the section in this wiki listing international awards, such as the SEED Initiative and the World Challenge, among others.




Created in 2000 by Dinero Magazine and McKinsey & Company it’s a business plan competition that seeks to attract and reward the best entrepreneurs in Colombia. During its first run the competition beat international records by having 725 business plan proposals submitted and evaluated; this number is higher than those recorded in Germany, Spain and Argentina countries that have similar competitions.

Ventures mission is to promote entrepreneurship, attract capital and generate employment in Colombia; it is also a mechanism to capture and channelize good business ideas and to help entrepreneurs ground their ideas through training and capacity building activities.

This competition is very flexible, allowing entrepreneurs from all ages and with ideas from all sectors to participate.

National Competition: seeks business ideas and / or innovative companies capable of generating economic efficiency, increase productivity and provide new jobs. This contest has three categories: General, Social, inclusive business. Each of these categories is different and has certain requirements

Regional Competition: In regional competitions Ventures seeks to solve a problem in the region. The idea is for participants to identify problems and needs of their region, and thus innovate with products or services and / or business models that contribute to the development of their area.


[2] A competition ran by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism that recognizes technological innovation in small and medium size businesses in Colombia. It awards initiatives that stand out for knowledge generation, talent, creativity and entrepreneurial attitudes.

This award seeks to strengthen mechanisms that incentivize a innovation and technological development cultural that leads to greater productivity and competitiveness in the country´s economic sectors.

It was created and is regulated by the 1780 Decree of 2033 and its modification the 4490 Decree of 2066.

The winning enterprises may use the award money for the following:

  • Specialized training
  • National or international technical assistance
  • International patents
  • Participation in national and/or international events of innovation or technological development
  • Strategic commercial management

INNOVA is a yearly competition and winners are presented with 500.000USD in prize money; the annual call for proposals opens between July and August.

Nomination Survey:

ASHOKA in Colombia

[3] Ashoka is the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs. Since 1981, it has elected over 2,000 leading social entrepreneurs as Ashoka Fellows, providing them with living stipends, professional support, and access to a global network of peers in more than 60 countries. Ashoka is a global community that develop models for collaboration and design infrastructure needed to advance the field of social entrepreneurship and the citizen sector. The Ashoka Fellows inspire others to adopt and spread their innovations - demonstrating to all citizens that they too have the potential to be powerful changemakers.

Ashoka Fellows are leading social entrepreneurs who are recognized to have innovative solutions to social problems and the potential to change patterns across society. They demonstrate unrivaled commitment to bold new ideas and prove that compassion, creativity, and collaboration are tremendous forces for change. Ashoka Fellows work in over 60 countries around the globe in every area of human need. All Ashoka Fellows must undergo a rigorous background check and selection process in which they demonstrate that they fully meet Ashoka’s selection criteria.

In Colombia Ashoka has elected 45 Colombian Ashoka Fellows into the Ashoka Global Fellowship since 1994, and currently elects two to four new Ashoka Fellows annually. As is the case in each of the Andean countries, the Colombian Fellows have developed close professional and personal relationships thanks to an active Ashoka Fellowship at the national level, focusing particularly on how their respective strengths and interests can contribute to the difficult task of ameliorating their country's dire social problems. The Colombia program is managed from Ashoka's sub-regional office for the Andean countries in Lima, Peru.

Policy There is no age, education, class, race, or other such bars to election. Anyone who meets the five criteria is someone Ashoka wants.

Ashoka has a few negative grounds on which a candidate may be denied entry into the fellowship. Violence, any form of discrimination, partisan political leadership, or membership in any political party which advocates violence, discrimination or totalitarianism are incompatible with election or continued participation in the fellowship. They have also found that those who are captive to ideology do not have the open capacity to listen, an essential part of creating fundamentally new change.

Because quality (and therefore likely impact) is their unique test, Ashoka only considers financial need at the end of the selection process. It provides financial support to those it elects if and to the degree that the person needs such support to be able to pursue his or her vision full-time. As Fellows' ideas take root, their institutions will increasingly be able to pay for their directors—and the level of Ashoka's support typically will decrease.


[4] McKinsey & Co is a management consulting firm advising leading companies on issues of strategy, organization, technology, and operations. That is the trusted advisor and counselor to many of the most influential businesses and institutions in the world. They serve more than 70 percent of Fortune magazine’s most admired list of companies.

McKinsey provides its consulting services when: - Clients find themselves under pressure to deliver results. They call us in uncertain times. - Information is difficult to get and insights are scarce. - Clients hey need to make decisions that will have major consequences for their people, their organizations, and the countries in which they operate. - Clients want a truly global perspective.

They help people and companies explore extraordinary opportunities, manage and sustain growth, and maximize revenue.

Universities Entrepreneur Programs

EAFIT University : [5]

The entrepreneurship program of EAFIT celebrated in 2009 10 years of its creation. This initiative has enabled the University to be higher in these areas of entrepreneurship and position in other cities in Colombia and even from abroad. Principles:

  • Commitment to the development of their community
  • Innovation linked to research groups
  • International Competitiveness
  • Multidisciplinary
  • Commitment to the intellectual and material EAFIT

EAFIT Participation in Tecnnova: In the V Business Conference Tecnnova Technological Innovation will present the capabilities of research groups at the University EAFIT. A community of knowledge and skills in science, technology and innovation for businesses.

Date: September 14 and 15 Place: Plaza Mayor Medellín Convenciones y Exposiciones.

Pontificia Bolivariana University -Entrepreneurship Program

Entrepreneurship Program, is comprised of a team that aims to raise awareness and motivate the Bolivarian community in the activities on the way to entrepreneurship, assist them in formulating their business plans and support them in the process of launching its initiatives. In this way the training of professionals with an entrepreneurial spirit become a reality with the creation of your company that is expected to be self-sustaining over time, productive, profitable, fulfilling its social function as a generator of employment and development for region.

Javeriana University - Javerian Entrepreneurs Program [6]

Javerian Entrepreneurs Program (PEJ) offers the university community the option to develop their entrepreneurial potential, working both the instrumental dimension to the business plan and advice, as the personal and skills development. The program counts with the following services and alliances: The Venture Capital Fund Comfandi, the Venture Capital Fund of Comfenalco, development consulting to groups registered to the Fondo Emprender and Advisory participants of the Ventures Competition.

Among the projects of the Program is Jovenes con EMpresa (Youth with Company) which is an initiative of the Corona Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for training and development of 10,000 entrepreneurs nationwide which our institution as an entity is part trainer . This program which we call as "Youth with Company an opportunity to make your dreams come true."

Volunteer programs

AIESEC Colombia [7]

AIESEC is a global, non-political, independent, not-for-profit organization run by students and recent graduates of institutions of higher education. The organization 60 years of experience in developing high-potential youth into globally minded responsible leaders; its members are interested in world issues, leadership and management. AIESEC currently have 45,000 members and over 800,000 alumni.

Present in over 107 countries and territories and with over 50,000 members, AIESEC is the world's largest youth-run organization. Focused on providing a platform for youth leadership development, AIESEC offers young people the opportunity to participate in international internships, experience leadership and participate in a global learning environment. What makes AIESEC unique is the youth driven impactful experience that it offers to its members. AIESEC is run by young people for young people, enabling a strong experience to all its stakeholders.

  • AIESEC members are part of an exciting, driven global network. They are able to contribute to societal change while exploring their own vision for a positive impact on society.
  • The organization is supported by thousands of partner organizations around the globe who look to AIESEC to support the development of youth and to access top talent through our global internship program.
  • AIESEC´s alumni are leaders within their organizations and communities. They use the experience, skills and inspiration AIESEC has provided them to be agents of positive change within today’s society.

AIESEC International Internships

Professional internship is the most intense learning experience that AIESEC offer and links together its global network. Each year, the organization provides over 10,000 members the challenging opportunity to live and work in a foreign country in areas of management, technology, education, and development.

Details and logistics • Duration: 6 weeks to 18 months • Salary covers living costs except some development internships • It takes between 2 - 7 months to find an internship and complete the selection processes • Application fee varies by country • Airfare is usually not included


Barrnaquilla- AIESEC Uninorte

Bogota- AIESEC Andes, Javeriana, Rosario, ECI, EAN

Bucaramanga: Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga


Cartagena: Universidad Tecnológica de Bolívar,

Manizales: Universidad Autónoma de Manizales


Pereira: Universidad Católica popular de Risaralda

Santa Marta: Universidad del Magdalena

Ibagué: Universidad del Tolima

Don't forget to see the list of International Awards and Prizes in the Entrepreneur's toolkit (click on the link below)!