Photo by Samuel Rios on Unsplash

This new social enterprise is creating borderless opportunity for underprivileged youth in developing countries.

Bret Waters
3 min readOct 11, 2022


The future of the world is in the hands of young people today. But many of those young people are currently working in the rural fields of Perú, the remote mountains of Bolivia, and the impoverished outskirts of São Paulo. Underprivileged kids all over the world have the smarts, the drive, and the ability to be leaders who can make the world a better place. All they lack is opportunity.

There are many charitable organizations with a mission of helping poor kids, of course. But as CK Prahald wrote in his seminal book The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, “For more than 50 years, the World Bank, donor nations, and various aid agencies…have all fought the good fight but they have not eradicated poverty”. Despite all our efforts, poverty still extinguishes opportunity for millions of kids all over the world. What we need now is a better approach, a more sustainable approach, a more scalable approach, an approach that engages these kids as partners instead of charity cases.

The founders of Merezco, a new startup social enterprise, have a simple-yet-powerful vision: If high-potential underprivileged youth are given the opportunity study and work abroad, they will come home better prepared to be leaders in their community who can create sustainable economic opportunity for those around them.

We all know that the opportunity to live and study abroad can be transformative for kids — but how do we make that opportunity available for more underprivileged kids in remote corners of the world?

The Merezco founders are successful businessmen in Lima, Perú, with connections all over the globe. By leveraging those connections they are connecting underserved youth with internships with global companies and scholarships at top universities. A teenage girl from a rural part of Perú, for example, might be given the opportunity to live in Australia, attending university while working at Equifax, a Merezco partner. This can be a life-changing experience for that young woman. As part of the program, she is expected to return to her community to share her experience and become a mentor for new Merezco participants. This is the virtuous circle that gives generational sustainability to the program’s impact.

Merezco is currently providing opportunity to youth throughout Latin America and they plan to expand to other regions around the world next year. Having proven the impact model, they are now building a digital platform to enable global scale for the organization and the impact it delivers.

As CK Prahalad wrote, “What is needed is a better approach to help the poor, an approach that involves partnering with them to innovate and achieve sustainable win-win scenarios”. Merezco is delivering on this promise, improving the lives of underprivileged youth and giving them the tools to improve the lives of others.

Because poverty is borderless — and opportunity should be too.



Bret Waters

Silicon Valley guy. Teaches at Stanford. Eats fish tacos.