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Three major social transformation projects

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Young entrepreneurs from Latin America and Spain have received 30,000 euros to develop projects to improve the health, mobility and quality of life of the over-55s. They are the winners of the Fundación MAPFRE Social Innovation Awards, a competition—held for the third year in a row—to provide a response to the major challenges and needs that have arisen during the current crisis.

A few days ago, nine entrepreneurs from Brazil, Ecuador, Spain and Peru took part in a competition where they presented real solutions to real problems. The jury, made up of experts in social innovation, social impact and the world of business and technology, selected three winners based on the quality of their projects and their effective innovative solutions, which will undoubtedly help solve some of the social problems that exist in various parts of the world.


“Guiaderodas” wheelchair accessibility guide: removing barriers

Bruno Mahfuz, a young entrepreneur from Brazil, has used a wheelchair since 2001. He has experienced the difficulties of living with restricted mobility first hand, which is why he decided to create a company that would allow him to develop the technology to make life easier, more comfortable and more independent for people who, like him, suffer from reduced mobility. The project also aims to accelerate a change of mindset toward a more accessible world for everyone.

The Guiaderodas mobile app (winner of the Fundación MAPFRE Social Innovation Awards in the Mobility category) is a free guide that allows you to check accessibility anywhere in the world. To do this, the app has ratings for companies in more than 110 countries, who pay to be ‘audited.’ This includes on-site analysis by architects and people with disabilities, employee training sessions and an internal marketing campaign that invites staff to share their opinions via the app. Some of them become part of the “Red Guiaderodas” (wheelchair accessibility guide network), which recognizes the importance of accessibility to many companies and improves their reputation.

Pensium: care home and home care guarantees

Miquel Perdiguer, CEO of Pensium (winner of the Fundación MAPFRE Social Innovation Awards in the Insurance Innovation category), created this startup after reaching the conclusion that getting a place in a private care home is a real problem for many people who don’t have a great deal of money, unless their relatives can help them out financially or they sell their home and lose their assets.

In Spain, it often takes a long time to get a place in a state care home and even after financial support has been approved, it can be a while before payments are received.

The main advantage of Pensium is that it makes it easier for elderly people who can no longer live independently to find a place in a private care home or to get home care. Although they may not have the money available to pay for these services, if they have a property, Pensium will provide them with the money they need through the rent received on their home; advancing them future rental income to provide up to twice the amount of the monthly rent.

Another feature of this scheme is that, once the required contributions stop (because the senior citizen has found a place in a state care home or they have died), Pensium continues to manage the renting of the property until the amount advanced is fully repaid. The program also includes the management and financing of any repairs, so that the family doesn’t have to worry about anything related to the property.

HOPE: A high-tech mechanism to fight cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is the leading cause of death in Peruvian women of childbearing age. 12 new cases are detected a day, of which 50 percent are fatal, which means that a woman dies from this cause every 5 hours. Although it is a completely preventable cancer, in Peru only 4 out of 10 women follow the healthy habits that help prevent this illness.

Given such a scenario, the non-profit organization HOPE PERU (winner of the Fundación MAPFRE Social Innovation Awards in the Health category) decided it was time things changed and made this a reality by making the first simple, low-cost, self-testing DNA analysis kit available to everyone in the country. It detects high-risk strains of HPV, allowing cervical cancer to be prevented. The kit is sold online at a price of 40 euros. It is delivered to the person’s home, the sample is collected—for analysis in the organization’s laboratories—and the person’s test results are returned via email.

This idea is innovative, because until now molecular tests were costly in Peru and only available to women of a certain socioeconomic level. In addition, Peru had no prevention culture. Only 40 percent of women go for preventive tests, so several barriers are broken down by offering a low-cost molecular analysis through self-testing. Prevention becomes easier for women because they can use this method themselves at home.

239 nominations and 3 winners

The third edition of these awards was open to three geographical regions (Brazil, the rest of Latin America and Europe) and a total of 239 projects were submitted, created by scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, university students and business schools, amongst others. Only 26 of these, the most innovative and with the greatest positive social impact, reached the three regional semi-finals (this year held virtually) and were able to benefit from a mentoring program to enhance the visibility of their projects.

The fourth edition of the Fundación MAPFRE Social Innovation Awards

The latest edition, which is open for applications until November 30, intends to “invite the whole world to take advantage of the lessons learned from the pandemic and to propose creative solutions that will enable us to respond to the major challenges ahead.” That was the message from Antonio Huertas, President of Fundación MAPFRE, on October 29: the date on which the grand final was held.

The 2020–2021 call for projects has a new feature. In addition to the categories of health, accident prevention and safe mobility, this year’s participants will also be able to present initiatives that promote active aging and contribute to improving the quality of life of people between the ages of 55 and 75.