‘The Future of Collaboration is Global and Transversal’
Cohope is on a mission. Founder, Carlos Manrique, believes that the future of collaboration is global and transversal. Nowadays there are very few occasions in which a solution can be found in just one area or ecosystem. We are connected in so many unimaginable ways but we don’t act as if this is the case.
He strongly believes that every activity in the near future has to generate positive impact, something he calls ‘invisible impact’. That means that when you go to the supermarket you don’t have to worry about the transportation you use, the clothes you wear or the food you buy. You already know that everything fulfils its part of the chain to generate a positive social impact. Below, he takes us through Cohope’s journey to create social impact with a purpose, resilience in the face of Covid-19 and explains the next steps for the company.
‘I started Cohope with social impact always in mind’
‘I started Cohope after having travelled the world for 8 years. Working in different sectors, I always had social impact in mind. Very quickly I realized that as a society we have many challenges to overcome. We needed a change of paradigm. Put simply, if we design everything we do thinking about people, families, communities, society as a whole, the world would be a better place.
The problem we are solving is the lack of positive social impact in the different structures of our society: people, organizations and physical regions.’
Purpose Innovation: ‘We achieve social impact in 4 ways’
- Promoting social innovation in all its forms.
- Providing services that promote social impact for various regions, organizations and people.
- Creating sustainable and personalized models.
- Creating synergies between different agents.
‘For example, one of our services is the Cohope Experience, which combines all of the above. This is an entrepreneurial experience where a group of people with ideas for social impact develop their projects during 30 days in an area with socioeconomic challenges. The idea of the project is to generate an impact in that region and create personal and professional development for everyone involved.’
‘How do I start a business without a team?’
‘Starting out, the main obstacle was: how do I start a business without a team? At the beginning I was alone, but I realized that this was important. It was part of the process. I needed to go through all sections of the project and possible problems to really understand what was being created. I overcame this fear when I understood that things were going well. A team would come in the moment it was needed, nothing forced, everything natural.
Now that we have grown, what I’m most proud of is being able to count on a team that live and feel the project. It is very difficult to start a project without being able to offer economic recognition. People have to coordinate with other activities and be as professional as possible and I believe that we achieve this. The point where everything changed was at the depopulation fair in Soria where we presented Cohope in an official way. We were able to see the reaction of the people, and that positive reception raised our morale a lot.’
Covid-19: ‘We are in a historic moment and society has to respond’
‘For us Covid-19 has been a hard blow. We had our biggest program in June and we had everything ready. We have had to delay the program but have taken these months to reflect and improve our services. It’s been tough but there are many who the pandemic has affected more severely. The simple fact that I am able to write this means that it has not been that bad.
This week, we are about to present our program online. For example, for the Cohope experience we did not have an online version and we decided to adapt the whole program in order to offer an updated service to fit society’s needs. This has forced me to reflect a lot on the digital security we currently have, both as users and organizations. It’s a topic that is not new at all, but in a completely online world we have to keep it more present. In terms of the online space, how many of us feel comfortable with the terms and conditions we have already accepted?’
And social impact?
‘If we’re talking about social impact, there are many aspects to cover. This situation has created new needs and has empowered others. Without a doubt, we are in a historic moment and society has to respond. I think it is a good time for society to assess what our priorities are. Suddenly, what was very important on a day-to-day basis is no longer so, and what we didn’t see as so important, is now at the forefront of all our minds.
I have a question about this situation and that’s: Would the Coronavirus have gotten to this point if we collaborated in a more global way?’
‘For entrepreneurs, the most important thing is the ‘Why?”
‘If I could give some advice to entrepreneurs starting out I would tell you that the most important thing is the ‘why’. You have to be very clear about why you want to create (x) or start (y). If the ‘why’ is clear, the rest is a matter of trial and error. Although, I would also say that entrepreneurs tend to abandon their own personal needs. It’s very important to develop yourself in all senses, the personal side too.
Thinking practically, in my case with Bridge, it was easy to find a mentor. Mentoring is essential, being able to talk about your ideas with an experienced individual helps you to see your project from another perspective. Sometimes as an entrepreneur you get inside your own head and you can’t see everything in your hands. At the end of my journey with Bridge for Billions, my mentor proposed the idea of continuing with Cohope. We had a good relationship and after thinking about it, we decided that it was for the best. He carries on being a key piece in the development of the business to this day.’
The next steps? ‘We have an international agenda.’
‘For Cohope, the next steps are to deploy all our services and generate an economic stability that allows the development of the services to the maximum exponential. We have an international agenda, where we will visit different countries during 2021 to promote the social impact. At the moment we are centred in Nepal, where we were from November to February developing our first center of social innovation along with a local school in Kathmandu. We hope to be able to advance the project in the next visit during year 2021.
The next imminent step, is to present our Cohope digital experience program. This will develop projects related to social impact taking into account our 3 key points: personal and professional development, and development in that region.’
Thanks, Carlos, for sharing your experience and advice with us and we wish you luck with your online launch.
To connect with Carlos on LinkedIn and find out more about Cohope, click here.
Carlos started his business journey with Bridge for Billions, if you want to learn more about our online incubation program, click here.