Peru’s economy has been steadily growing over the last 5 years and things are getting better for more and more people. This is good news in particular for a country that had to overcome terrorism and severe economic hardship. However, while things are getting better, recent surveys show that young people, in particular in rural Peru, are not satisfied with democracy and the market economy. In response to this the Peruvian think tank Instituto Invertir launched LíderAcción, a leadership and entrepreneurship program for university students from rural Peru.
In the article “Don’t Turn Your Back on Reforms: Can Democratic Market Economies
Take Root in Latin America?” that was published by CIPE, I mentioned that one of the biggest challenges for Latin America is to make people feel that they are part of the system. This is the case in Peru where according to recent opinion polls, 86 percent of Peruvians between 18 and 27 are either unhappy or extremely unhappy with democracy, and 80 percent are not interested in issues related to democracy.
Since about 30 percent of the Peruvian population is between the ages of 15 and 24 years old, this presents a significant challenge for the future of democratic institutions in the country. Peru is generally viewed as a successful economic model with some of the highest growth rates in the region in recent years, but the wealth and opportunity in Peru are centralized in Lima, and negative attitudes towards democracy are much more prevalent in rural areas outside Lima that have been left out of the economic success.
In response to this lack of confidence in democracy and the free market economy and a negative image of the private sector and entrepreneurship among the youth, especially from low-income families located in the countryside, the LíderAcción program was designed by the Peruvian NGO Instituto Invertir, the Peruvian University of Applied Sciences (UPC), and CIPE. This education program opens a window of opportunity to foster private enterprise, democracy, and leadership development in Peru.
The first LíderAcción education program awarded 200 scholarships to university students from rural areas in Peru to attend three separate three-day education sessions in Lima on leadership, entrepreneurship, communication, market economy, business plan development, and civic engagement.