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Emerging Market Initiatives – EMI

Responsible development through a new generation of leaders

Mission and Objectives

Our mission is to support responsible economic development and, in so doing, expand knowledge of the emerging market economy.

Our Objectives are to:

  1. Support the formation of internationally-aware, creative, and responsable business professionals
  2. Support bottom-up economic development
  3. Create social value

EMI currently fulfills its mission by training young professionals from around the globe and preparing them for the realities of doing business in emerging markets.  Newly trained consultants then immediately apply their skills by providing consulting services for SMEs in Colombia.  Given that our client companies often lack the resources to pay for such services, we provide them at no charge.


In 1998, the School of Management at the Universidad Externado de Colombia, after recognizing an opportunity to help alleviate the difficult economic conditions of the country, launched a program focused on training business students in consulting and supporting bottom up economic development in Colombia.  This program was named Plan Padrinos and has since impacted over 2000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through the efforts of nearly 1500 student consultants.

In Colombia, SMEs compose as much as 96% of existing businesses in Colombia, employ nearly 80% percent of its workforce, yet contribute a mear 40% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.  More concerning still, is the fact that less than 1% of all businesses in the country are said to implement any sort of permanent innovation process so as to remain competitive*.

Within this context, and given the success of Plan Padrinos, the School expanded its initiatives to include consulting work targeted at instigating best practices in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to meet international standards set by the United Nations Global Compact, Global Reporting Initiative and other organizations as well as to include consulting focused on orienting businesses to produce products and services that serve bottom of the pyramid (BOP) markets.  Going even further, the School has consolidated these initiatives into what is now called the Emerging Market Initiatives (EMI) and broadened its purpose to support responsible economic development and, in so doing, expand knowledge of the emerging market economy.

*Colciencias (2008). “Colombia Siembra Futuro”

International Recognitions


International Recognitions

Plan Padrinos
  • In 2013 the Continued Education Network of Latin America and Europe (RECLA), selected Plan Padrinos to receive the award for Social Responsibility in Continued Education.
  • Selected to be presented at the Global Compact – Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) in the Anti-poverty Working group (July 2014), as an example of poverty reduction.
  • Semifinalist at the EFMD Excellence in Practice Award 2010.
  • Plan Padrinos Director Gustavo Yepes was invited as a panelist at the 2012 Harvard Social Enterprise Conference.
First Steps in CSR
  • Based on the experience of Plan Padrinos Program, in 2007, with the objective of continuing to promote a culture of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) among SMEs in Colombia, the “First Steps in CSR ®” program was launched. First Steps is done in partnership with the Global Compact Local Network of the United Nations.
  • The program was selected as an inspirational case for the second edition of the “Inspiration Guide for Implementing PRME” published in 2013.  Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME) is an extension of the Global Compact Network.