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On April 28, Endeavor Entrepreneur Felipe Vergara, who founded the Colombia-based Lumni, received a Latin American Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 award by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship (see the press release). Four other entrepreneurs also received the award for their efforts in promoting education, banking, medicine, and housing in the region. The winners were announced at the 2011 World Economic Forum on Latin Ameria in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
A venture capital fund that invests directly in human capital, Lumni finances education for students in exchange for a small fixed percentage of their future income over a pre-set time period. The firm currently operates in Colombia, Chile, Mexico, and the U.S. Since joining Endeavor, Felipe has grown Lumni from supporting 150 students to over 1,600 students, with a dropout rate of 5% and a default rate below 2%. Lumni’s investors exceed 150 individuals and corporations, and current and forthcoming capital totals US$15m across 20 funds.
Felipe is a Wharton MBA and former McKinsey consultant, who has long been passionate about reducing the gap in access to higher education. In explaining the decision to confer the award on Lumni, Hilde Schwab, Chairperson of the Schwab Foundation, said, “Education accounts for roughly 70% of a country’s wealth, yet approximately 88% of the world’s youth cannot pay for university. The Lumni model has the potential to change this.”
In 2006, Lumni was the subject of a Darden Business School (UVA) case study. In an article in the Economist (Sept 2010), Lumni was recognized as an innovator in education financing.
“Social entrepreneurs are the driving force behind the innovations that improve the quality of life of individuals around the world,” said Mirjam Schoening, Head of the Swiss-based Schwab Foundation. Klaus Schwab, co-founder of the Schwab Foundation, commented that Latin America has the highest density of social entrepreneurs in the world.
With this award, Lumni will become a member of the World Economic Forum for five years. Said Felipe: “I am very excited with this opportunity and hope to leverage it to continue building my vision of an international company that creates outstanding economic and social value and helps invent a new industry that creates opportunity and hope for millions.”
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