Transformative Social Innovation in Latin America

Interdependence, Co-creation, and Democratization of the Change Agenda


  • Sebastian Gatica School of Management, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
  • Catalina Ramirez Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona
  • Francisca Petrasic CoLaB, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile


social innovation, social entrepreneurship, Latin America, co-creation, collaboration, sustainability, local development, citizen participation, interdependence, systems thinking, systemic change, governance


This article seeks to analyze how social innovation in Latin America has evolved as our societal problems have changed in nature, depth, and scale. Today, social innovation in Latin America reflects the current social territorial transformation at the local level. As a response to the climate emergency and the political, economic, humanitarian, and health crisis, the region has made progress in articulating its innovation ecosystem and equipping actors with the essential knowledge to create a common understanding of our problems. Despite that, the challenge of making significant inroads in addressing the region’s pressing socio-environmental problems is greater. In the coming years, the acceleration of our understanding of the processes and impact we generate will be more crucial than ever before.


On the one hand, this article offers a historical analysis of social innovation in the region and of its ecosystem of actors. On the other hand, it analyzes several recent experiences that illustrate three core principles that are emerging in response to the socio-environmental crisis.  These core principles include interdependence, co-creation, and democratization of the change agenda. The analysis contributes to a theoretical-practical reflection in the current global context and points to a paradigm shift in social innovation. This, in turn, gives us a new perspective through which we can analyze future changes and proposals that are emerging from local innovation ecosystems towards creating a sustainable future for the region.

Author Biographies

Sebastian Gatica, School of Management, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Sebastián Gatica Montero is the Director of CoLab UC. He has an MSc and Ph.D. from UCL in London, and is an UC commercial engineer, social entrepreneur, and academic. During his career he has worked in various fields related to the Social Economy. As an entrepreneur, he has been behind the creation of various foundations and social enterprises. For example, he is co-founder and former director of the renowned international TECHO foundation and co-founder of, a B Corp certified social enterprise that supports rural communities, particularly indigenous, in Chile, Argentina and Colombia, in leveraging tourism for their sustainable local development.

Catalina Ramirez, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona

Catalina Ramírez is a PHD Candidate in Sociology at the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona. Her research focuses on Feminist Urban Studies, Digitalization Processes in the Global South, and Migration Flows and Entrepreneurial Intercultural Processes. Catalina has work experience in social innovation and in participatory methodologies and human development. Her current doctoral dissertation focuses on the enhancement of future inclusion programs for migrant women entrepreneurs in Latin America.

Francisca Petrasic, CoLaB, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Francisca Petrasic Andrade is an Industrial Designer and User Experience researcher at the University of Chile. Francisca has worked with public and private institutions on the design and implementation of local development projects. Her research and work has focused on sustainable and resilient cities, accessibility, aging, efficiency and renewable energy, collaborative design, participatory methodologies and citizen science. She has a master’s in urban projects from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.




How to Cite

Gatica, S., Ramirez, C., & Petrasic, F. (2021). Transformative Social Innovation in Latin America: Interdependence, Co-creation, and Democratization of the Change Agenda. Social Innovations Journal, 10. Retrieved from