How corporate foundations in Colombia can contribute to a lasting peace

Carolina Suarez

After more than six years of talks between the government and the FARC, the oldest and most violent guerrilla insurgency movement in Colombia, we are facing a historical moment. The narrow failure of the plebiscite to legitimize the peace agreements is a challenge but also an opportunity to bring together several actors to confirm the achievement of peace. Corporate foundations will have a crucial role in the peace-building process. While they already have many of the attributes they need to play it, there are some they need to add.

In Colombia, corporate foundations represent the largest part of institutional philanthropy and there is a growing identity of interest between companies’ social responsibility strategies, national and local governments, and civil society. The primary focus of philanthropic projects in Colombia is to tackle inequalities, reduce poverty, and support people from urban and rural areas to produce a sustainable form of development. For corporate foundations, peace means not only the absence of violence but the generation of comprehensive, participative and human processes which complement the role of the state. In other words, for corporate foundations, peace is an engine for social and economic development.

Confronting new challenges in the peace framework also requires foundations to take more risks and have a long-term vision to accompany their belief in peaceful development, in order to produce innovative projects that complement the work of the state.

What do corporate foundations bring?

 
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