Featured in one of the latest blog posts of the Huffington Post, Colombian pop singer Shakira recounts some of her major experiences as founder of Barefoot and Alas foundations, two philanthropic endeavors to deal with what she sees as a big barrier to development and well-being in her hometown Barranquilla and other underprivileged parts of Colombia: lack of early childhood education. More striking yet are her own childhood memories of a city where, as she puts it, “it seemed as though many around me had their fate decided for them since even before birth” due to extreme poverty.
Along with the recount of her lessons learned and goals and dreams yet to come true, she is making a call for people to join causes like this. A self-proclaimed believer and follower of philanthrocapitalism, Shakira, as a good activist, is indeed “spreading the word” about the benefits of an approach that has actually worked for her.
But just like so many people have long regretted that Shakira left behind Colombia to fully pursue her artistic career, in a controversy that has its own nuances, now the time has come for her to show the entire country how her philanthropic capability can really be scaled-up and make a difference. To be successful, she will need to demonstrate her ability to convene a large number of local philanthropists-to-be and use her public image platform and her “voice” to help raise awareness and develop new tales of critical issues that the society as a whole must address.
This is no easy task. As a commentator has claimed in magazine Semana, wealthy people in Colombia have usually shown little or no interest at all in pushing for a comprehensive progressive agenda that includes issues just as pivotal as Shakira’s concern for children’s education. Now that we are reaping the benefits of “capitalism”, we need to prove ourselves that we are also ready to embrace “philanthropy” at its best.