Germán Zubía

Podcast Interview

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BFP: What do you do?

GZ: I am a co-founder and CEO of LAB Open Innovation. The LAB is an independent organization based in Mexico launched in September 2012 with the aim to transform ideas into sustainable actions for social impact by creating a bridging space that promotes effective collaboration across multi-stakeholders. That is to say private sector, government, public institutions, social entrepreneurs, academia as well as civil society. All of this with the aim of maximizing social impact and connecting key problems with innovative solutions.

In addition, I recently joined GDP Global, a strategic consultancy firm based in London that operate at national, city and regional level, in more than 70 countries and which is focus on providing strategic consulting services for economic promotion organisations in the area of foreign direct investment (FDI) and promoting other economic development projects.

BFP: What is the best part about your job?

GZ: I sincerely consider that one of the most gratifying things for a person is working on something that they are really passionate about. For me, finding a way to make a difference has always been the reason that gets me up in the morning and this is the best part of what I do. I enjoy the opportunity to talk to people and exchange knowledge and ideas in order to collaborate and solve together complex challenges. Sometimes we think that everything happening around the world are isolated issues that are not connected directly with us but history has been showing us time to time that links are everywhere and that now more than ever it is compulsory to get involved in solving development challenges. It is crucial to promote and enhance civil society’s involvement, to incorporate private sector expertise and resources and do investment in building capacity in order to achieve sustainable solutions. Supporting the creation of networks, sharing of knowledge and inspiring people to work together will definitely help to unleash the potential of collaboration and reach transformational solutions.

BFP: What have been your greatest challenges?

GZ: By far, one of the biggest challenges has been trying to develop local empowerment and spread the word about the benefits of collaboration and its impacts for sustainability. There is a pre-conceived idea about social and business as two antonyms or separated worlds, which constrains collaboration. However, little by little there are more successful cases showing that social business is a matter of fact and is possible to be profitable while facing local communities’ challenges as well as helping communities without being merely a charity and requiring a permanent fundraising strategy.

Currently in Latin America, social entrepreneurship and innovation are critical opportunity areas which in some regions are linked to the lack of resources but mainly to weakened institutions and lack of involvement. The main challenge is to get people to collaborate across different sectors and generate innovative solutions.

BFP: How have you overcome these challenges? / What advice, would you give to others?

GZ: The focus needs to be on strengthening networks, investing on capacity building and creating social businesses, which should be profitable but with a tangible social impact, not just about philanthropic efforts. My advice would be to engage the most and best-qualified stakeholders as partners as possible, which for me is essential to success. But it is very important to provide accountability at any stage to avoid corrupt practices or any kind of misconception.

BFP: If someone wants to do what you do, where should they start?

GZ: Having real world experience can be very useful although I think having in mind what you expect in life is more important. There’re going to be challenges the entire path and at the same time, the knowledge acquisition never ends. What is important is being dynamic, adaptable and believing in who you are and what have you dreamt about and never forgetting the inherent responsibilities of social consciousness.

BFP: Finally, what do you hope to get out of being part of the BFP community?

GZ: Without any doubt meeting people who are passionate about how the power of business can be aligned with development objectives. I very much look forward to exchange different experiences, receive the communities’ feedback and share fresh ideas from different perspectives. I am sure that being able to work jointly and having constant interaction will definitely help to achieve better development results.

Editor’s Note:

Thank you to Germán Zubía for taking the time to do this interview.

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