From Social Innovation to Public Policy: Success Stories in Latin America and the Caribbean

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From Social Innovation to Public Policy: Success Stories in Latin America and the Caribbean
By Nohra Rey de Marulanda and Francisco B. Tancredi
United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, 2010
149 pp.
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This inspiring collection of case studies of 25 award-winning grass-roots development projects leaves no doubt that Latin America is brimming with brilliant social entrepreneurship. Some of the featured projects involve the construction of low-cost housing in Chile, the production of processed cacti in Mexico, and the provision of health care to migrant coffee workers in Costa Rica. Such initiatives not only measurably improve the welfare of the poor but also enhance their capacity to exercise citizenship; it is this vibrant social capital as much as specific skills that empowers them. The expert commission that selected the cases searched for the ability to replicate: the Chilean housing project, which involves university student volunteers and private-sector sponsors, has already spread quickly throughout Latin America. The final challenge is for governments to adopt these social innovations as their own and scale them up to the level of national policy.