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Business - Written by on Thursday, October 23, 2008 14:55 - 12 Comments

Don Tapscott
My unforgettable trip to Bogota, Colombia

I spent the last two days in Bogota Colombia meeting with NGO’s social entrepreneurs, government and business leaders who are all working together to change Colombian society. The Fundacion Saldarriaga Concha sponsored my trip and it was organized by Andres Franco from a management company called CLG . I had previously met GLC’s founder Gustavo Mutison on previous trips. He’s a wonderful example of a business person who combines successful entrepreneurship with a deep and effective commitment to social change.

The big issue on everyone’s mind is how Wikinomics, the Web 2.0 and the Net Generation combined can enable Colombia to leapfrog in economic and social development.

Arriving on Tuesday night, I had dinner with the board of the Fundación Saldarriaga Concha. These were all very thoughtful business leaders who spend enormous amounts of time attempting to do well by doing good in Colombia. The main focus of the foundation is the elderly and also disabled in Colombia — two groups that woefully lack services and rights.

7 am the next morning was one of the most inspiring conversations I’ve had in a long time — a small breakfast with 15 of the top movers and shakers of the new web in Colombia as it’s applied to social development and justice. These young folks were as sophisticated as any I’ve met anywhere. Some were implementing social networks (using open source software) in civil society and government in Colombia. Others were consulting foundations and businesses who want to support social investment. Others were using the web to organize movements for social change. They had a list of ten thoughtful questions prepared for me — we got through two of them.

An example was a lad named Felipe Arango from BSD Consulting, BSD standing for Business, Sustainability and Development. They have been working on models of stakeholder assurance (AA1000s) for sustainability reports for some years now and acted as consultants for some of the main banks in the Latin American Region on integrating sustainability into their strategies and transparent communications. They are also currently developing sustainability ratings for investments in Latin America, including financial market indexes. After the meeting he expressed interest in exploring collaboration possibilities with nGenera on how to blend the wikinomics model with stakeholder based assurance, stakeholder engagement and transparency through GRI reporting.

BSD is also developing a project with the Fairtrade movement, one of the most powerful ideas yet for sustainable development, based on using the wikinomics model to promote self-organization and collaboration amongst 3rd world rural producers and conscious consumers.

After that I was interviewed one on one by several leading journalists in Colombia and then headed to the ball room to give my keynote speech.

The room was packed — overflowing actually and I received a sustained, emotional response to my talk. As I was being introduced I chatted with Colombia’s First Lady – Lina Moreno — who had come to hear my talk. She told me that her husband President Álvaro Uribe Vélez had hoped to attend and wanted to follow up to discuss our work on Government 2.0. President Uribe has been holding town hall meetings in locations across Colombia every Saturday for months. I’m thinking he’s a prefect candidate for a digital brainstorm. Why couldn’t Colombia be the first developing country to hold a three day discussion about an important topic on the Internet?

After my talk I participated in a fascinating panel on the topic of Social Investment in Colombia: New strategies for new challenges. On the panel were Soraya Montoya- Saldarriaga Concha Foundation, Javier Jaramillo – Inversiones Mundial, Luís Gallo- Sharing with Colombia, Samuel Azout- Carulla Foundation, and Mauricio Rodríguez- Dean CESA.

Ironically, on the way to the airport we were delayed by a student demonstration that had blocked traffic. Young people are organizing in Colombia to bring about real change. You may remember the famous protests by youth against guerilla kidnappings that were organized earlier this year on facebook. Thousands of students and other youth came into the streets in one of the biggest demonstrations in the country’s history. If I’d missed my flight (a close call), somehow it would have been ok.

Viva Facebook. Viva the Net Generation










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Martin Giraldo
Oct 24, 2008 9:39

Don it was a pleasure having you in Colombia, lets hope your words drill down into our way of doing business and bringing this country in to a new era of collaboration and social change.

Adriana de los Rios
Oct 24, 2008 10:44

Don, it was a GREAT pleasure meeting you and talking to you. Not only your ideas but you as a human being are a wonderful source of inspiration for change. Thank you very much for being with us, and for our nice petit breakfast session….we certainly look forward to meeting with you again and continue talking about so many topics!!! In http://www.eltanke.org you will find a short video about our wonderful prosumer breakfast meeting.

I will be shortly moving to San Francisco. If by any chance you drop by it would be wonderful to have a coffee 2.0 chat and continue our digital brainstorm. How inspiring!

Big hug from Colombia and you are always welcome!!!!

Thanks again and best wishes,

Adriana de los Rios

La Cápsula - estudio digital » Blog Archive » Don Tapscott desayunó con La Cápsula en su paso por Colombia
Oct 24, 2008 18:02

[...] El canadiense, autor del best-seller mundial Wikinomics, se reunió en un desayuno previo a su conferencia en el foro, con El Tanke, Nullun, Interferencia filmes BSD y La Cápsula para tener lo que el mismo llamaría “una de las conversaciones más inspiradoras que he tenido en mucho tiempo”. [...]

Barrios de Bogotá
Oct 25, 2008 12:59

Dear Mr Tapscott: Unfortunately we were not aware of your important visit to Colombia but hopefully we will be able to hear you speak at some future occasion. Your idea of having three day “net” events in Colombia is definitely worth following up on.

As a group of young reporters/journalists reporting from the “barrios de bogotá” we would be happy to hear you speak here again.

Felipe Arango
Oct 26, 2008 13:38

Don, your presence in Bogotá further sparked the enthusiasm for the possibilities that can bring about social change. Thanks for the mention in your post. Looking forward to reading Grown up Digital. I will contact you soon to continue our conversation. Best,

Felipe Arango

Camila Rivera
Oct 28, 2008 11:44

Don, your thoughts and enthusiasm were very inspiring seeds that will, sooner or later, grow in different areas around here. There is a lot of potential to be explored in this country and your warm words reminded us about it. Thanks for sharing.


Oct 30, 2008 11:33

Hello to everyone (Don and all the bloggers)…
As the powerpoints and videos are uploaded and the blogosphere continues to buzz with activity, it is evident that the spirit of the Forum continues! When we look back on the events of October 22 (the speakers, the audience, the exchange, and the innovative ideas), I think we all agree that we achieved the purpose of the event: the promotion of new strategies to improve our work in the social sector. We are very grateful for your presence and for everyone’s active participation. At the FSC (Fundación Saldarriaga Concha), our goal is to create spaces where everyone can share ideas, experiences, knowledge, and to open our minds to new forms of interaction —all in the hope of generating social development. The Forum was a major step towards this goal. We still have a lot to learn, and a lot more to do. We look forward to continuing this dynamic collaboration as we continue our progression toward this goal. Thanks again to all!

DIEZ - Don Tapscott en Colombia
Nov 19, 2008 13:35

[...] Con motivo de los 40 años de la Fundación Saldarriaga Concha organizamos un evento que conto con la visita del escritor canadiense Don Tapscott. Les recomendamos estos dos videos con un grupo de prosumers colombianos que lo dejaron bien impresionado según su entrada en el blog de Wikinomics. [...]

James Farrar
Nov 24, 2008 20:01


Sounds like a great trip. SAP is supporting an important research project conducted by non profits AccountAbility (home of AA1000), Business for Social Responsibility, International Business Leaders Forum and also supported by Redmonk to examine sustainability, web 2,0, collaborative governance and stakeholder assurance. Would it be possible for the team to contact you for an interview?

Incidentally, SAP is taking an open approach to stakeholder engagement on sustainability. Stakeholders can vote on the issues of most material importance at http://www.sapvote.com and then join an open conversation to comment on SAPs sustainability report to stakeholders (prepared to GRI standard)and suggest ideas, improvements, criticisms etc.


Jun 2, 2009 15:00

Don, the digital Society is well & truely up & running in Colombia. Hopefully it can bring about enhanced Ec & Social Devevelopment with all its accompanying benefits for all. Colombia is Passion.

Sochagota / Marcus Horne

Feb 20, 2010 13:08

Don it was a pleasure having you in Colombia, your thoughts and enthusiasm were very inspiring seeds that will, sooner or later, grow in different areas around here.lets hope your words drill down into our way of doing business and bringing this country.Thankyou

Apr 13, 2010 15:54

Bogota colombia is a Awesome city and Santa Marta Too

Now available in paperback!
Don Tapscott and Anthony D. William's latest collaboration, Macrowikinomics: New Solutions for a Connected Planet. Learn more.

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