My work with IMAGO as a summer fellow has been a very enriching one.

Coming from a developing country and having worked in the public sector has let me experience first-hand what IMAGO calls “the missing middle,” that space, where neither the top-down nor the bottom-up approach can reach that is most needed to further develop a society. IMAGO has taught me that to create structural change from civic movements and social enterprises, long-term and most dedicated work is needed. This might sound evident; however, most public policies and even social consultancies focus on solving immediate problems as quickly as possible. The “IMAGO way” is thoughtful and most importantly, always looks to build a robust and promising future for their clients; it is a human approach that breaks with the standard problem-solving methodology and treats every organization as unique.

This sentiment for the better of humanity made me passionate about expanding IMAGO’s work and bringing it to Colombia, my home country. Colombia is working hard to build a more equal and just society. My main task this summer was to study the social enterprise and grassroots landscape of Colombia to assess different opportunities for IMAGO to expand its work in the Southern Cone and partner with key grassroots players in Colombia. Our research, including interviews with key stakeholders, confirmed our notion of a vibrant and innovative social development ecosystem and incredible potential to scale impact and change the lives of many.

In addition, I was also able to work with Tierranuestra, a nonprofit organization in Paraguay, that seeks to make the life of communities better through music. Working with their dedicated and passionate team taught me that development has infinite faces, that a small group of people can choose a path, like music, and engage their community to transform lives and create social change from the heart of society itself. I was privileged to contribute to the work IMAGO is doing to support this Paraguayan enterprise as they explore different ways to scale their social model.

As I continue to develop my professional career, I will take the sentiment of the “IMAGO way” with me: that notion that there is no template to address every social problem, and that adaptive solutions are necessary; the recognition that as a future generation, it is our duty to change the face of international development. But above all, what I hope to always carry with me is the human vision of this organization, the notion of how human relationships and the interconnection we all have is our biggest tool to exercise change in the life of others.

By Katherin Martinez

IMAGO Fellow 2020
MPA-DP Candidate SIPA Columbia