Gustavo Gennuso

Organization: 
Fundación Gente Nueva
Year founded: 
1989
Country: 
Argentina

Fundación Gente Nueva is devoted to the development of poor Argentinean youth through education and cultural programmes.

Focus: Children and Youth, Education, Enterprise Development
Geographic Area of Impact: Argentina
Model: Leveraged Non-Profit
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Argentina, 2007

Background
Today in Argentina, approximately 50% of the population is poor. Unemployment is high and even higher in the city of Bariloche, located at the foothills of the Andes, where a quarter of the population does not have work. A culture of apathy and dependence characterizes many of Bariloche’s communities and is passed from parents to children. A number of governmental and non-governmental organizations have sought to address poverty and unemployment but many of their activities focus on training alone, leaving out the development of entrepreneurial skills that enable people to create and run small businesses. Gente Nueva has helped build strategic alliances across local institutions engaged in productive activities, including businesses, educational centres and individual professionals that can help young people develop the entrepreneurial spirit as well as the technical and administrative skills that are important to success.

Innovation and Activities
The main mission of Fundación Gente Nueva is to ensure that the poor can act on their own behalf, using education to enable that process. As Gente Nueva went about setting up educational institutions in collaboration with communities, it became apparent that other issues needed to be addressed – land rights, health and youth. Over time, these aspects were incorporated into the organization’s activities.

Gente Nueva runs 10 community-managed public schools located in the poorest areas of Bariloche: two are pre-schools, which take children from 45 days of age to 5 years; two are primary schools; three are secondary schools, which also include adult education; and three are technical schools, which offer skill-building activities for young people and adults. All the schools are supported by the government, which pays for teachers’ salaries, while Gente Nueva and the community are responsible for the selection and monitoring of teachers and aspects related to infrastructure, upkeep and food. For the older age groups, Gente Nueva provides vocational training for job opportunities in Bariloche and elsewhere.

To date, more than 5,000 students have passed through Gente Nueva’s classrooms and an additional 3,000 have benefited directly from its various programmes, including daycare centres, business apprenticeships, teacher training, dental care, youth and sports clubs, and centres for the elderly.

In addition to directly affecting the lives of the poor in Bariloche, Gente Nueva is influencing national public policy, particularly in the area of youth and adult employment education as well as through teacher training, which includes ways to encourage students to develop entrepreneurial interests.

The Entrepreneur
Gustavo Gennuso was born in a rural town in the province of Buenos Aires. A gifted student, he won a scholarship to study nuclear engineering at the Instituto Balseiro in Bariloche. During his studies he was inspired by a local priest to work in the city’s poorest areas to help address educational gaps that kept the youth in these communities from taking advantage of opportunities for personal and professional growth. In addition to setting up schools and initiatives that are part of Fundación Gente Nueva, Gennuso has recently founded Emprendimientos Tecnología para la Vida (Life Technologies Ventures), a social business that manufactures sustainable technologies for human development.