Portrait of Programa Valentina, a startup that develops technological skills among young Guatemalan
On the occasion of the Seedstars Summit, an annual event that aims to reward social entrepreneurship in emerging markets, but which this year, due to the COVID-19 crisis, took place online, TRECC presented the Transforming Education Prize to the Guatemalan startup Programa Valentina. The prize, worth CHF 50,000, is intended to reward the startup that has made the most outstanding contribution to education through the potential and scope of its impact on its environment. Here’s the portrait of Programa Valentina, a startup that develops technological skills among young Guatemalan.
Founded in 2017, Programa Valentina is a women-led high-impact technology company that uses data and analytics to train at-risk young people from precarious backgrounds and enable them to acquire technological skills aimed at their social and professional (re)integration in the digital age.
A zero-risk impact model to help solve the problems of unemployment
Based on the zero-risk impact model, Programa Valentina aims to help solve the problems of unemployment and underemployment of at-risk populations aged between 16 and 29, mainly women, but also returning migrants and refugees. Moreover, Programa Valentina firmly believes that technology and innovation are the fastest ways to achieve its social progress objectives of reducing inequality, increasing gender equality, and promoting decent work and economic growth for all at-risk populations in Latin America.
“There are two types of adolescents in Guatemala: those with opportunities and those without. And Programa Valentina creates opportunities for us, the ones who don’t,” says one of the beneficiaries of the company’s project that helps Guatemalan youth find their way in society, providing them with formal employment, a stable income, social security and, above all, options.
Although social enterprise faces two main challenges related to the development of technological skills in an emerging country, positive results and a significant impact have been observed since its launch in 2017.
“Most of the population we are trying to help does not have access to a computer or a stable internet connection, the two main tools needed to develop technological skills. Similarly, the most vulnerable populations may have low levels of reading skills due to a deficient education system, even though this is one of the most basic concepts needed to develop technological skills,” notes Jessica Hammer, Director of Programa Valentina. “Despite these constraints, we are very proud to have been able to train more than 1,200 young people and place 40% of them in formal jobs since 2017. We believe that for every participant in employment, we have an impact on their lives and those of their families, with better opportunities regarding their health, income and overall well-being.”
Adapting to deal with the COVID-19 crisis
The CHF 50,000 prize won by Programa Valentina comes at a critical time when a sharp rise in unemployment is expected due to the current health crisis. “We plan to use the funds received to improve our data and analysis platform, allowing us to adapt to the COVID-19 crisis,” explains Jessica Hammer. “We will focus our efforts on following up with participants after their placement to maximize the permanence of their current employment. In addition, we will optimize our database to identify vulnerable populations that are likely to increase with the inevitable rise in unemployment in the coming months.”
By 2027, Programa Valentina aims to become the most influential, and effective, training, certification and placement program in Latin America. The company plans to expand its activities in Colombia in the near future and explores the possibility to expand to other countries in Central America and the Caribbean. Designed according to a scalable and sustainable business model, Programa Valentina could be deployed in other emerging countries to help solve unemployment and underemployment among vulnerable populations.
You liked this portrait of Programa Valentina? Discover other projects that we support.