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Catalina Escobar Restrepo

Catalina Escobar left the private sector to become a social entrepreneur, dedicating to improve the lives of the most vulnerable people in Colombia. As the President of Juan Felipe Gomez Escobar Foundation, Catalina was awarded the National Order of Merit in Silver Cross Grade. Catalina was selected to be a Fortune/State Department Global Women's Partnership and recognized as a Top 10 CNN Heroes and Top 10 Best Colombian Leaders. Moreover, Catalina has received a number of awards including Poder Business Award by Poder Magazine, 21 Leaders of the 21st Century by Women eNews, an honorary doctorate degree from Clark University and Stanford Women Leaders Fellow.

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Fundacion Juanfe
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Hybrid Social Enterprise
Education; Sustainable Development; Social Innovation
Areas of Impact
Latin America, Colombia

Fundacion Juanfe

Juan Felipe Gomez Escobar Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life of adolescent mothers and infants living in extreme poverty in the city of Cartagena. At its beginnings, the Foundation focused on reducing infant mortality. In 2005, the core focus changed to the empowerment of teen mothers, recognizing that when poor girls become mothers during adolescence, it is the key factor that deepens poverty.

The foundation fulfils its purpose by providing comprehensive care in terms of health, psychological and emotional support, as well as technical training to generate a stable income and break the poverty cycle. Since its inception and the adoption of operational best practices in 2002, 4,300 babies have been treated and saved, and the infant mortality rate has decreased by 80% in the city.

The Juan Felipe Medical Center has attended to more than 200,000 patients since October 2005, with an average of 1,500 patients per month. Additionally, since the creation of the Employment and Entrepreneurship Office in 2012, 1,600 teenage mothers have found a job and are currently generating an income. The Foundation's business and intervention model, called 360 Degrees intervention, is innovative because it is approaching the teenage pregnancy problem in a holistic way: not focusing on only one dimension of the problem but on an array of dimensions – health, nutrition, job training, empowerment, psychology. By working all these dimensions together, the foundation is helping teenage mothers have a higher probability of finding and keeping a steady job, therefore breaking the poverty cycle.


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