Asier Ansorena

I'm originally from Spain, graduated with a B.A in Economics and Political Science from the University of Michigan in 2006. After that I worked for the international youth run organization AIESEC in several projects for youth empowerment and social entrepreneurship in the Middle East, and Latin America. In 2009, I joined the microcredit team at Instituto Banco Palmas, the first community bank in Brazil. Since 2013 I'm coordinating efforts to establish Palmaslab, a research and innovation lab that aims to transform the urban periphery of Fortaleza by empowering communities through software development and research produced by young people in those communities.

How does your work relate to economic democracy?

Banco Palmas is the first Community Bank in Brazil, created in one of the poorest communities of Brazil (Conjunto Palmeiras in the city of Fortaleza). Banco Palmas was established not only to bring financial services to an impoverished community, but also to create a new model for banking. The residents of Conjunto Palmeiras were aware that accessing services in the existing system wasn’t sufficient, and that it was necessary to create a different model of banking for the population that was inspired by the principles of the solidarity economy. Since Banco Palmas was founded nearly 20 years ago, we have created spaces for more than 100 communities in Brazil to decide what model of socio-economic development fits their priorities. For four years I worked as the Director of Microcredit at Banco Palmas.

In the last three years I’ve had the opportunity, together with other colleagues, to create PalmasLab, a laboratory for innovation and research within Instituto Banco Palmas, which develops Information Technology tools and produces research, starting from the experience of marginalized communities. PalmasLab’s objective is to build the capacities of young people and incubate their initiatives so that they become protagonists in processes to create new solutions. We work with youth who are community leaders, programmers, designers, hackers, researchers, and entrepreneurs, to strengthen their capacities and promote the protagonism of human beings who have been unable to access opportunity within the capitalist economic system.