Indigenous Students and Young Parents “Entrepre-Learning” in Chile

The Universidad Austral de Chile (UACh) is located in the city of Valdivia, in Southern Chile. It enrolls 11,000 students annually and carries out a wide range of programs meant to promote a more prosperous and resilient regional economy in Southern Chile. Founded in 1954, UACh is a non-profit corporate entity with significant state-finance.

Through the Youth Economic Participation Initiative (YEPI), UACh seeks to strengthen efforts to position young people in social and economic vulnerable positions to become job creators. The Empréndete UACh! program is based at the Nucleus for Entrepre-learning in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences and draws on a methodology developed at UACh called, “entrepre-learning”, or “emprendizaje” in Spanish. This is a play-on words merging the practices of entrepreneurship and learning.

Empréndete UACh! encourages the participation of around 150 students per year who are young parents and students of indigenous descent. Students are trained through a curriculum focused on the development of entrepreneurial and innovation skills, which is organized into three stages: 1) capacity building, 2) implementation, and 3) follow-up and individual assistance. It includes seminars, exhibitions, workshops, learning communities and collaborative boards. The program will additionally train a minimum of 48 professors to incorporate entrepreneurship and innovation pedagogies into their curriculums, across disciplines.

The Nucleus for Entrepre-learning has been in existence since 1999, and in the next months and years, hopes to expand its programs to reach grassroots organization in the Los Rios region that can create bridges to local communities of women and indigenous people. The region of Los Rios ranks in third place in the national poverty indexes. The program also has a strong collaboration with the MIT Community Innovators Lab.