FPdGi Awards

Colombian social entrepreneur Juan David Aristizábal, 2021 International Award

The winner was chosen for “supporting young people in Latin America through training, education, technology and an entrepreneurial spirit”, and for transforming personal adversity into a virtue by leveraging it to create social projects for the common good.


Colombian social entrepreneur Juan David Aristizábal Ospina has won the 2021 Princess of Girona Foundation International Award for “supporting young people in Latin America through training, education, technology and an entrepreneurial spirit”.

The winner’s name was announced today after an online meeting of a jury of international experts chaired by doctor, epidemiologist, researcher and member of the FPdGi’s Advisory Council Pedro Alonso, and also made up of astrophysicist, editor of Nature between 1995 and 2018 and current chief editor of the journal from the same publisher Springer Nature Philip Campbell; artist Mat Collishaw; director of the European office of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Anja Langenbucher; cofounder and CEO of Humanity Crew Maria Jammal (2019 FPdGi International Award); CEO of the European Foundation Centre Delphine Moralis; nanobiotechnology researcher at ICREA and research professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona Samuel Sánchez (2015 FPdGi Scientific Research Award), who acted as secretary to the jury, and historian and journalist Giles Tremlett. 

The jury praised Juan David Aristizábal Ospina for his leadership in “promoting young talent through various youth entrepreneurship projects”. The chair of the jury, Pedro Alonso, highlighted the winner’s ability to learn from both success and failure over the course of his career when taking on new challenges and his clear mission to transform society. Despite being young himself, Aristizábal’s resilience has enabled him to set up foundations and organisations to help young people generate income and improve their employability, or to accelerate their job retraining and technological transformation.

The Princess of Girona Foundation created the International Award in 2019 with the aim of recognising the professional and personal efforts of young people from any part of the world who stand out for their work, merits and exemplarity in any of the other categories of the Foundation’s Awards. In addition to Juan David Aristizábal Ospina, previous winners of this award include the cofounder and CEO of Humanity Crew Maria Jammal (2019) and the founder of The Ocean CleanUp, Boyan Slat (2020). 


“We all have a talent for changing the world. What’s important is knowing how to direct our individual leadership to find, strengthen and apply our talents to create change together.” JUAN DAVID ARISTIZÁBAL OSPINA

Juan David is a social entrepreneur working towards youth employability, education, entrepreneurship, and technology in Latin America. He comes from a small Colombian city called Pereira. His family worked in the coffee industry, but were hit hard by the economic crisis and eventually lost their business. However, this setback did not prevent him studying, and by working while studying, he was able to finish his undergraduate degree in Business Administration. He went on to win a Fulbright scholarship and studied two master's degrees in the United States: one in International Affairs and another in Journalism, both at Columbia University.

His career as an entrepreneur dates back to 2003, during which time he has founded several organizations to help young people generate income and improve their employability. He is the founder of Prosperity Makers, a group of social entrepreneurs who have received national and international recognition for their impact. In 2013, he founded Everyone for Education, a social organization dedicated to influencing public policies to improve education and employment.

One of his new projects involving the creation of an innovation and co-working centre for young entrepreneurs has been affected by the COVID-19 crisis, making it impossible to pay local expenses. Another entrepreneurial enterprise, Los Zúper, based in Mexico and Peru, had to close several of its work branches due to the crisis.

Currently, Juan David Aristizábal is CEO and founder of ProTalento, a platform dedicated to accelerating the job retraining of young people in Latin America. His model is based on working with companies to build the profile they seek in young people for their junior technological positions.

He has received international recognition for his work, including being named one of Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30 entrepreneurs changing the world, he was selected as an Ashoka Fellow in the United States, and he was named one of the WISE Emerging Leaders in Education by the Qatar Foundation, among others.


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