Ecuador’s Eduardo Bejar: We need to promote a culture of risk
Telefonica, one of the world’s largest communications companies (and a major sponsor of Campus Party which has been profiled by Daniel Ben-Horin on this blog and on The Huffington Post), is up to something new. Their Big Thinkers Latin America series presents video interviews with the “Top 20” digital leaders from Latin America who speak about their “startups, blogs, twitter accounts and social networks which are creating a profound transformation in innovation and entrepreneurship.”
The series includes a conversation with Ecuador’s Eduardo Bejar by Maria Nieto Churruca. If your Spanish is rusty, we present it here in English.
Something is happening in Ecuador. In the past two years, the population which has access to the Internet has doubled, and the use of social networks has grown exponentially. Over 98% of 5 million Internet Ecuadorians have a Facebook account.
Behind this development there are people like Eduardo Bejar, co-founder of Iguana Valley, an open community created to share and promote technology-related initiatives. In 2009, when he created this community, one of the main barriers in Ecuador was the ignorance of the most basic digital tools, and now success stories like his serve as a model for other digital entrepreneurs. "Today Ecuador has a variety of technology events like Campus Party, BarCamp, Ecommerceday ... although there are still many difficulties for entrepreneurship which cause some local entrepreneurs to leave the country in order to address them."
For the past 11 years, Eduardo has also been the executive director of the Foundation for Online Help, Fundapi, a foundation aimed at supporting the development of individuals and disadvantaged communities through Information Technology. Through Yakana, the Foundation disseminates guides and manuals, as well as NGO and social networking success stories about the application of technologies for social action as a way to inspire other social entrepreneurs. Edward is also the founder of SectorSocial.org, a founding member of the Association of Free Software in Ecuador, a university professor and a lecturer in electronic commerce and Internet business.
Citizen journalism and community empowerment through information technology have been an important line of work for Fundapi, with programs such as "How to transform information into action" using digital media.
Eduardo tells us about events that marked a milestone in the dissemination of citizen journalism, mainly supported by Twitter, a tool that has a strong distribution in the country since September 30, 2010, when the Ecuadorian government declared a state of emergency through Twitter, and left it as the only mass information channel. Twitter then became the main means of public information and coordination. This event, which in less than 12 hours became a Trending Topic (TT) worldwide, has given another dimension to citizen power and the value of social networks in the country.
Over the next few weeks we will be interviewing other "Big Thinkers Latin America" for their outstanding contributions to enterprise and innovation in the region.