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Youth in Action: Coding Latin America’s Future

Feature Article | December 9, 2016 by Mariana Guerrero, Camila Ceballos

Latin Code Week enabled 400 youth across the region to innovate and propose solutions for financial inclusion in their communities using SAP’s Build technology.

Thalis Lucian Cerqueira wants to make a mark in the world. He wants to do something to make it better and to touch the lives of many. Thalis is 24 years old and goes to college at Unisinos University in Brazil. He was part of the winning team of Latin Code Week in Brazil in October.

We hear it time-and-time again: Youth are out to save the world. SAP is determined to help them achieve it by fostering an environment of innovation and reducing the digital gap in Latin America youth. Thalis and his team, alongside 400 other students from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, competed in the first-ever regional coding event sponsored by SAP in partnership with Junior Achievement, a non-profit dedicated to educating and empowering young people.

Latin Code Week is a digital literacy initiative that provides training in coding tools, entrepreneurship and life skills. Students who participate in this program learn business skills, go through design thinking workshops, and learn to build an app using a tool called Build, a new application design tool from SAP that enables anyone, even those without a technology background, to design and create apps for business users without coding.

In this pilot session held in October, to coincide with SAP’s yearly Month of Service, the students were invited to develop prototype apps that would promote financial inclusion in their communities, a topic relevant to many Latin American communities where 1 in 5 people live in chronic poverty.

Mariana Espejel and Erick Jasso Diaz, from the winning team in Mexico are not even out of high school yet. At age 17 and 16 respectively, they know that in Mexico people don’t generally save, one of the main factors in the mediocre performance of the Mexican economy. They built an app called “One Family” to promote saving as a family which also receives financial tips while using the app. Members of the “One Family” team have seen members of their own family struggle financially and are determined to create something to help future generations avoid such pitfalls.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s winning team, TIPP, focused their app on teens using gamification to create an awareness of how and where to spend from an early age. “Sometimes many ideas occur to us, but being adolescents and having limited access to the proper tools impedes us from realizing these ideas,” said Florencia Sagasti from the winning team in Argentina. A student from Colombia said that the challenge inspired them to come up with ideas and become aware of the social issues around them.

Thalis describes Latin Code Week as 4 days of intense contribution and a unique opportunity to cross and discover new frontiers, and build new friendships as individuals collaborate within their teams. The winners have a chance to further develop their prototypes with SAP mentors if they wish to do so, and each country’s winning team received prizes ranging from iPads to Spotify subscriptions. The team from Mexico had the opportunity to participate in SAP’s ’Run Live’ press tour.

Aside from the members of the four winning teams, all the students who participated in the competition left with the seed of innovation in them. Like them, there are millions of other young people with the potential to transform their communities. Latin Code Week was just the beginning of what can be achieved. Marco Antonio Pérez Fausto, a member of the winning team in Mexico said it well: “there is a lot of talent among the youth, what’s left is to discover it.”


About Code Week Events

Code week events are aligned with SAP’s vision to help run the world better and improve people’s lives and is part of the company’s CSR initiative to invest in the education of future workforce members and better prepare them for the digital economy.

SAP has held code week events in 39 countries in order to address the digital skills gap among youth and the youth unemployment crisis. According to IDC, the market research firm, Latin America is likely to have a shortfall of almost half a million IT professionals by 2019, while youth unemployment affects one-third of the region’s youth.

Latin Code Week was the first in the region and the only code week to date to use SAP product ‘Build.’ Build accelerates the application development process and enables users to create prototypes collaboratively, learn user-centered design and design-thinking, and easily get feedback from end users.


 

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