Global Shapers are young leaders who want to develop their leadership potential towards serving society. They work together in teams to improve their communities.  This special series highlights the winners of Coca-Cola’s Shaping a Better Future Grant Challenge for the Global Shapers Community.  This challenge rewards taking action, leading positive change and using innovative approaches to tackle serious social issues.

The Coca-Cola Company is a founding partner of this World Economic Forum Community.  We think the Shapers are pretty awesome and hope you enjoy seeing the change they are starting in their own backyards.

Better to be a small fish in a big pond or a big fish in a small pond? The answer can be related to our role as young leaders and the impact that the Global Shapers Community can have.

In terms of impact members of the Global Shapers Community are both. Big fish in small ponds because of their essence of taking concrete local actions that empower, inspire and benefit their local communities. At the same time that they can jump to be small fish that are part of something bigger, a big pond that is formed by thousands of like-minded fish that together can change the water of the entire ocean for the better. 

The Global Shapers Monterrey Hub is working on app that will impact local neighborhoods through technology and social innovation. The app is called “Barrios” (neighborhoods) and it has the potential of being the catalyst of the social and economic development that the abandoned barrios need. Just in Monterrey, Mexico there are 11 barrios with more than 25,000 neighbors each, with an average 50% abandonment. As a result, neighborhoods are losing their cultural heritage, businesses are getting running out of clients and public spaces are becoming insecure.

Global Shapers Monterrey Hub

With the Barrios app, civic engagement in neighborhoods will increase. We took a “Golden Triangle” approach to collaboration. We are inviting neighbors to identify the problems that need to be addressed and companies, nonprofits and governments to collaborate in the solutions.

The app allows its users to select a neighborhoods and georeference places in to create rallies that work with a reward system based on the local economy. What makes Barrios different from other apps is its civic engagement approach. The app helps you to discover places, meet people, solve problems and empower communities.

While working on Barrios we decided to jump to a bigger pond. We realized that there were neighborhoods all across in Latin America facing the same problems. After this, building the app became more exciting and our goals of impact became bigger.  We needed to build something that could be scalable and useful for barrios across Latin America.

The Coca-Cola Shaping a Better Future Competition has been an opportunity to share our passion and project with the world. Because of this challenge, people across the world can now be a part of our dream. I can’t explain my excitement when I learned that a bright young leader from Greece, Ioanna Fotopoulou, had downloaded the beta version of the app and was speaking on how Barrios should be scaled across the world.

Working on this project is for us an opportunity to give back to our city and a chance to share what we are creating with the global community. Having won a grant in the competition has fueled our batteries to improve our app and increase its impact. Just in Monterrey we are looking to benefit 300,000 neighbors in the upcoming months.

So here we are, in our small pond doing our best with the conviction that our passion and project will have an echo in neighborhoods across the world.

Maria Fernanda Gandara Gil is a young Mexican passionate about entrepreneurship and social impact. Besides her BA in Architecture she has studied Leadership for Social and Sustainable Development and Entrepreneurship at one of the most innovative schools in Silicon Valley. Formerly in CSR and Impact Investing she is now shaping her career as an entrepreneur. She is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Community, Ambassador at One Young World and Monterrey's City Chair for Global Dignity.