In April 2012, Public Defense of Costa Rica determined that most of prisons recruit, for drug smuggling, were single mothers, who had never before committed a crime, and were living under poverty conditions.
To these circumstances, in February 2011, a young entrepreneur takes the initiative to develop a business that intended to give a second chance to convicts that perhaps never had one before. Lauren Diaz leads a comprised team of five entrepreneurs; Keila Abrego, Natalia Solis, Daisy Carvajal, Victor Herrera and Juan Vargas, to start a venture that would create a business incubator for convicts called Nueva Oportunidad, which would be implemented in Costa Rica's prisons, solely focused on technical assessment, financial access and follow-up processes.
The courageous drive of Lauren Diaz and her team, took Nueva Oportunidad one step ahead to the participation in TIC Americas 2012, held in Cartagena, Colombia, where the eagerness of the 22 year-old business leader, with degrees in law and business administration from Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, is recognized with the People's Choice Award, and is also chosen within the thirty-six finalist of TIC Americas to be interviewed by CNN correspondence, Claudia Palacios.
Subsequent to Cartagena, Lauren leads her group onto a new challenge, designing a series of workshops and conferences based on their observation of low self-esteem behaviours from prisoners, to empower them to achieve a positive contribution within their reincorporation to society.
Nueva Oportunidad team, has organized workshops and conferences in a detention center called San Rafael, where inmates are characterized by their entrepreneurship spirit, for being full-time students or employees and in some cases both while paying their sentence in the penitentiary center.
Nueva Oportunidad´s leadership comes from innovative actions and their constant search for international exposure. In May 2012, Nueva Oportunidad participated in the Youth Employment Forum organized by the International Labor Organization, held in Geneva, Switzerland. In June 2012, they also attended Vanguardia Centroamericana carried out within the XXXIX SICA Summit in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where they presented their business idea to the current president of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla.
Greater challenges for Nueva Oportunidad have been a result of great achievements that are the outcome of the support the team gained from national and international alliances, which have played a significant role in opening up the doors of business development. "Nueva Oportunidad has the goal to fully initiate the business incubator with 20 convicts from San Rafael in the course of a year." Said Lauren Diaz.
Nueva Oportunidad potential has yet to grow and shine brightly!
San José, Costa Rica