Special edition presentation: The Role of Business Leaders in Social Development


Wednesday, 13 October 2021


Alvaralice Foundation

Eighteen years ago, the four Garcés Echavarría siblings established the Alvaralice Foundation in Cali, to honor and continue the philanthropic legacy their parents built in the city and the surrounding area. For generations, the family has pioneered the development of many business enterprises in Colombia and all of their companies are leaders in corporate social responsibility. The family has also developed social projects through their family foundations, Alvaralice Foundation being one of them.

Alvaralice Foundation focuses on promoting social development and improving the quality of life of the most vulnerable communities in the Valle del Cauca region, especially in the city of Cali. Alvaralice is aware of the importance of non-profit organizations in the social development of a country, as well as the importance of sharing that responsibility with local governments and the private sector. Only with a well-coordinated effort among all sectors will the systemic transformations needed in the city be achieved.

The national strike that began in Colombia on April 28th and lasted for over a month was organized and led by dissatisfied citizens protesting against a tax reform proposed by the national government. Neither the withdrawal of the reform, nor the resignation of the minister responsible for it, were enough to assuage the protesters. On the contrary, the national strike continued and turned into an opportunity for thousands of citizens to express their needs, especially those most affected by the pandemic on a social and economic level. Unfortunately, what began as peaceful protests turned into violent acts that morphed into vandalism due to the infiltration of criminals that distorted the purpose of this legitimate act of citizen participation. The Valle del Cauca was the most affected region, especially Cali, with a significant deterioration of its citizens’ security level and important economic losses due to damages caused to public & private infrastructures.

Cali will take time to recover. However, the business sector took the initiative of creating communication channels for dialogue through which the community’s dissatisfaction and needs were discussed with local business leaders. As a result of these conversations, concrete actions have been designed to help rebuild the social fabric, by expanding opportunities for the most vulnerable populations.

One of the initiatives created from this process was “Compromiso Valle”. This program channels matching contributions from multiple companies, individuals, and organizations, to social intervention programs that have already shown successful results in areas such as food security, employability, and at-risk youth support. The dialogues highlighted the various challenges faced by the protesters and have led to a renewed commitment by the private sector to the promotion of inclusive social development through actions that go beyond their individual core businesses’ areas of interest. In this newsletter, we want to highlight this work, analyze the role of business leaders in our community’s development, introduce  “Compromiso Valle”, and share other initiatives that will be possible thanks to these common efforts.

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