Ana Hidalgo , Ecuador

In 2013, Ana cofounded Lab21, an organisation that strives to improve the way we learn by emphasising skills like confidence and empathy as key components of entrepreneurial training. Lab21 has reached over 5,000 young people in 60 schools across Ecuador, as well as providing 6,000 small business owners with specialist business training. Ana was inspired to establish a Youth Potential Development (YPD) Chapter in Ecuador after meeting the YPD Founder in Spain. The small pilot project in Quito grew exponentially, reaching 60 schools across mainland Ecuador to date. YPD Ecuador is a programme within Lab21 that provides teachers with alternative teaching methods that prioritise learning skills over rote learning, using innovative techniques in the classroom to be more engaging. The high school dropout rate in Ecuador is very high, with only 48% of students completing their high school education and with lack of interest being cited as the main reason for leaving school, after economic reasons. YPD techniques are utilised in the final three years of high school, which is the time that most students drop out, in order to increase the retention rate. Using the same YPD principles, Ana works on a range of programmes under the umbrella of Lab21. One notable case of this is the Mingana project, which offers consultancy services to small community business owners to help them remain competitive against big supermarkets by offering them tailored advice on stock inventory, managing their finances and how to increase business opportunities.

Lab21 has also developed programmes targeted at preschool and early years children. Another Lab21 programme helps aspiring athletes learn essential skills alongside their athletic training, such as how to manage their finances and about sexual and reproductive health and rights.