Mariana Costa (SIPA’13), CEO and co-founder of Laboratoria, has been named by Google.org as one of its seven “Leaders to Watch” for 2022, making her the only Latin American on this prestigious list of seven changemakers.
With centers in Peru, Colombia, Chile, Brazil and Mexico, Laboratoria is a tech social enterprise that aims to empower underprivileged women with tools so they can join the workforce as computer programmers and web designers, and thus break the cycle of poverty. It was founded together with other SIPA alumni upon the realization that a large number of web developers were actually self-taught, and that there were very few women working in the industry.
“Laboratoria is a bet on Latin American women, on accessible quality education, and on building a more competitive, inclusive and diverse digital economy for Latin America,” says Costa, who is from Peru. “Our work is part of ensuring women - particularly those who’ve had less economic opportunity - can build incredible careers in tech and shape our region’s future.”
“It brings me joy that at such complex times for the world and my country, I get to work every day with and for people that inspire me and in an organization that contributes to building a better future,” she adds.
More than 2,000 women have graduated from the program since 2015, of which over 80% have been placed in full-time positions, significantly bolstering their incomes. The students participate in a six-month bootcamp to develop key technical and life skills to work as front-end developers and user experience designers. They do not pay tuition during the program but once they land a job, they pay back a subsidized amount in monthly installments to help fund the program to provide similar opportunities to other women.
Google.org helps to support organizations that are addressing today’s most pressing social challenges, and the “Leaders to Watch” list is comprised of recent grantees who are working to make their communities a better place. Many are employing innovative tech to solve problems, while others are striving to make the technology industry more accessible and inclusive.