Ecuadorian young woman wins the Enrique García Leadership Award

January 31, 2024

The award was aimed at young individuals between the ages of 18 and 30 from the 21 shareholder countries of CAF, whose initiatives, actions, and activities have a positive impact on Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity.

CAF -the development bank of Latin America and the Caribbean- awarded the first edition of the Enrique García Leadership Award, a recognition that identifies, acknowledges, and highlights the efforts of young people for the development of their countries. This version was aimed at young people between 18 and 30 years old from the 21 shareholder countries of CAF, had 24 candidates and 6 finalists represented by the following countries: Barbados, Ecuador, Jamaica, Peru, and Uruguay. Ultimately, the accolade was awarded to Ángela Sofía Ortiz Bastidas, of Ecuadorian nationality, who stood out for her leadership in her community, as well as her efforts in generating sources of safe water and nutritious food for families.

Angela's trajectory stands out in the following initiatives:

  • In 2019, she founded the Microbiological Research Club “CDIM”, where knowledge in environmental microbiology, talks on scientific internships, leadership, and networking are imparted.
  • In 2022-2023, she was the winner of the Galapagos Hub for Sustainability, Innovation, and Resilience in the “Enchanted Waters 2022” category. With the project “PARAYAKU”, which is in the execution of a drinking water treatment plant for the Galo Plaza Lasso School in Santa Cruz (900 students). This initiative seeks to assist Galapagos families who do not have access to fresh water by utilizing rainwater, which will serve both for human consumption and for irrigation or animal use.
  • In 2023, she founded her enterprise, Micelium POP, which produces edible mushrooms and markets seeds so that more people can join in producing their own mushrooms at home. In the same year, she was a fellow of “La Pre Camp and La Camp by Women in Bioinformatics and Data Science LA” (Buenos Aires, Argentina).

The award was presented in Panama City, during a ceremony honoring the significant career of the former president of CAF, Enrique García. The event was attended by CAF's Executive President, Sergio Diaz Granados, as well as distinguished authorities from the region.

Diaz-Granados expressed his pleasure that the award bears Enrique García's name, to whom he expressed gratitude for his presence, the invaluable contribution he made to the integration of Latin America and the Caribbean, and the legacy he left at CAF after leading the bank for 26 years: "In essence, a long-term vision, a kind of cathedral thinking. To build a cathedral, you first have to construct a chapel, lay a foundation stone, and have the patience to build it on a solid foundation. This cathedral thinking of Enrique García brings us here today: thinking in cathedrals, thinking big. This vision continues to guide CAF's path". 

Taking this vision as a reference, Diaz-Granados congratulated the winners and assured that from CAF: "We will continue to recognize these young leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean, convinced that this is the best way to generate a solid, enduring cathedral that drives sustainable and sustained development for the entire region and its people over time".

The first award winner stated, "this recognition not only highlights my personal commitment but also underscores the crucial importance of leading initiatives that seek a positive impact on our environment. It's not only a testament to my efforts but also to the shared belief in the urgent need to address the environmental challenges our planet faces. Together, we have demonstrated that effective leadership can make a difference in creating sustainable solutions and preserving our invaluable natural surroundings". Ángela expressed her gratitude to CAF and concluded by stating that "success is never achieved alone, and knowledge only has value when shared with others".

Meanwhile, Enrique García expressed his gratitude and joy for the establishment of the namesake award, congratulated the winner and the special mention, and shared some keys to his success: "Leadership requires having a mission, but not just that, also having precise objectives with quantifiable goals not only in the long term but also in the short and medium term. The second key point is having dialogue and empathy to understand the differences that exist. The ability to achieve consensus is the importance of the leadership of the future. Beyond the importance of the financial resources provided by development banks, there is their catalytic role, which ensures that there is seriousness in the selection processes of project priorities. Another issue is knowledge to be innovative in seeking to positively influence and help our countries strengthen institutions with consistent strategies".

The award ceremony also included a Special Mention for Ashley Lashley, a young leader from Barbados, founder of two organizations (The Ashley Lashley Foundation and HEY – Healthy and Environmentally-Friendly Youth) and committed to addressing social development issues such as health, the environment, and the rights of children and women.

Lashley stated that “this mention is a monumental recognition for my country, for our youth, for our children, and for members of my foundation and truly highlights a generation of leaders who shape our nation and the Caribbean. For this reason, I call on the leaders of Central America and the Caribbean to ensure that young people and children are our top priority, prioritizing health, well-being, and safety.”