Universidad Europea recognized the fifth group of ten young social entrepreneurs through the Youth Social Entrepreneurs Award (Premios Jóvenes Emprendedores Sociales), in a ceremony that took place at The Hub in Madrid and enjoyed the presence of Her Royal Highness the Infanta Doña Elena and Secretary of State for Education, Training and Universities, Montserrat Gomendio. Both attended the event to lend their support to this initiative that encourages entrepreneurship among young people.
The journalist Ana Pastor and Director of Change.org in Spain, Francisco Polo, led the award ceremony, which recognizes the initiative of young Spaniards between the ages of 18 and 29 years old, who are conducting social or environmental projects that are having a positive impact on communities. Both thanked Universidad Europea for supporting causes like the Young Social Entrepreneurs Award. As Ana Pastor said, "Spain needs people like you. The strength of the entrepreneurs that we meet and reward here today is an inspiration to us all. Because while it's complicated undertaking a entrepreneurial project even in a country like ours, creating one that is socially conscious seems impossible." For his part, Francisco Polo, who was one of ten winners of the Third Edition of the Young Social Entrepreneurs in 2011, said: "These awards changed my life. Social entrepreneurs are often branded as idealistic, but we're not. We are so realistic that instead of complaining during a dinner conversation, we roll up our sleeves and set to work to solve the problems of others with our own hands. We have such a sense of responsibility to our work that we always try to make our projects transcend us."
Miguel Carmelo, President of Universidad Europea and CEO of Laureate International Universities Europe, then delivered an emotional speech in which he did not hesitate to expose the plight faced by young people today. "During the various editions of the Young Social Entrepreneurs Award, you have taught us that a society becomes better as it becomes more concerned about the state of its weakest members. I just want to encourage you to not stop you here. Count on us to change things. Because our future, and I mean everybody, is in your hands. But I also know that you are expecting many answers. And, I think, it is our responsibility to provide them."
Joel Adriance, Program Manager at the International Youth Foundation, encouraged the winners to maintain close contact with the international network of social entrepreneurs that they can now access through this award.
As in previous years, the Special Jury Prize was announced at the event. This time it went to Alejandra Martinez Calvo for the PADIMM project, a digital literacy initiative for women migrant domestic workers supporting associations and political emancipation through the use of tools and technology.
"One thing I have learned working on my project is that archaic structures no longer make sense. Thanks to Universidad Europea for making events like this visible," said Alejandra to while receiving her award. She also acknowledged the support received from the Domestic Territory collective, a group of women from various nationalities with vital lessons that share powerful strategies for strengthening and knowledge transfer: "I'm learning a lot from them."
The selection of the winners was made possible through the work of an exceptional jury, which this year included Javier Nadal, Executive Vice President of the Fundación Telefónica; Pilar Muro, President of the Chiron Foundation; Maria Calvo, Director Corporate Social Responsibility at the VIPS Group; Hernan Zin, journalist; Joan Melé, Deputy Director General of Triodos Bank; Otilia de la Fuente, Director General of Universidad Europea, and Miguel Carmelo. The winner of last year’s Special Jury Prize, Galdón Conchita, who heads the Global Bridges office in Spain, presented the award.
The fifth edition of the Young Social Entrepreneurs Awards recognized various initiatives related to the use of animals in certain therapies, the problems of groups at risk of social exclusion, reconciling work and family, sustainable economics, immigration and farming. All winners will receive a cash prize of € 3,000, which comes to € 5,000 in the case of the Special Award, and a crash course offered by the university, created specifically to meet the needs of each of the winners. The formation of these young professionals, as the essence of the University, is one of the major differentiators of Young Social Entrepreneurs Awards.
This article has been translated into English to be shared on the Laureate International Universities website.