Laboratoria, a social business focused on women social inclusion through the use of technology and education is selected as YABT’s entrepreneur of the month. Laboratoria was a finalist of the Social Innovation category within TIC Americas 2015. Mariana Costa, one of its co-founder, has been selected to take part in the flagship event on youth of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings in Lima, Peru this upcoming October.

Co-founder Rodulfo Prieto, Venezuelan, and Mariana Costa, Peruvian, both graduated from Columbia University in the Summer 2013 and were eager to do something of their own that could have social impact, but they were not sure about what and how.

Both of them with Herman Marin, Ecuadorian, first started running a digital media business specialized in web development and graphic design. However, they realized that women represented a very small minority of the web developers community in Lima, Peru. As a matter of fact, they found out that less than 10% of web developers in Peru, Mexico and Chile are women and that web development is among the most demanded skills in Latin America.

By acknowledging this panorama, Mariana and Rodulfo innovated their business model and created a social spin-off of their company, and named it Laboratoria. The purpose behind Laboratoria is to provide women from low-income communities with software and soft skills while supporting them in the process of introducing themselves to the formal labor market.

A little over a year ago after its creation, Laboratoria already graduated its first generation of women coders who found a decent job in the IT sector in Peru., Laboratoria expects that at least 100 young women from Peru finished the 6-month training and start working in a company related to web development by the end of 2015. Moreover, Laboratoria is now starting operations in Chile and Mexico.

Currently, Laboratoria depends on three funding sources: grants and subsidies provided by the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia e Innovación Tecnológica of Peru; private investments from big tech companies, such as Google or Telefónica; and the profits generated from its digital media company´s sales. However, Mariana hopes that in the long-run the third funding source would cover 100 percent of Laboratoria´s operational costs.

Laboratoria has already received numerous recognitions, which includes the Kunan Social Entrepreneurship Award, TR35 Social Innovator under 35 for Peru, and was selected as finalist of the Social Innovation Category in TIC Americas 2015.

Recently, YABT had the opportunity to visit Laboratoria office in Lima, Peru and interviewed co-founder Mariana to learn more in detail about the challenges and support that she has stumble upon on her career as a social innovator. Check it out (available only in Spanish):