Spotlight on Santiago Martinez

Meet Santiago Martinez, the founder of Disena Tu Pais in Colombia, TEDx Speaker, and one of President Obama's Young Leaders of America.


Tell us about Disena Tu Pais. 

Diseña Tu País aims to get people excited about the future and to create it. We are doing it in Colombia. We want young people to think how the future of their country would look like in 15 or 20 years from now, how the classrooms of the future will look like or the climate change solutions for our countries for example.  We are doing it through a digital platform ( where young visionaries can share their ideas on the future of education, agriculture, sustainability, and health. Then, we will select outstanding participants and we will be accelerating some outstanding ideas, and giving a lot of tools to young visionaries in alliance with Stanford University, with professors from the who will come to Colombia to accelerate these ideas, forecast and create a collective vision of the future.


You have accomplished a great deal at a young age, from becoming a President Obama's Young Leader of Americas fellow to giving a TedX talk. To what do you attribute your persistence and success?

Everything I have started or have committed to is a problem or an opportunity that I am passionate about and which I really want to solve or approach. There are some issues that I really care about as how we can educate people effectively, how we build sustainable communities and how empowering people lead to great possibilities. I like to ask people, What is the problem that you care the most about? Because when you are passionate and committed to something chances are that you won’t give up easily. Usually, we do not get what we want with the first move, we may even fail sometimes and that’s ok, so I believe we need to care a lot about the problem we are addressing which lead to persistence and purpose.


You have started a number of ventures other than Disena Tu Pais. Tell us about them.

It all started when I was 15, I started Dynamic, an entertainment network and a company led by high-school students. It transformed the way we saw the world and let us believe we could make our ideas happen as young as you may be. Then, when I started college, along with a group of friends we were discussing how our education system did not allow students to think for themselves and be able to face the global challenges that we face in the world as poverty, access to water, climate change, among others, that’s why we started ‘Cómo Lo Cambiarías’, an organization to empower students to become agents of change; we started to build educational programs and workshops on global issues, storytelling, entrepreneurship and XXI century skills in schools in Colombia, we wanted to change the old question of ‘what do you want to study?’ to ‘what problem do you want to see solved?’ so they started to think about their own purposes and how they could change the world, we asked the students to come up with solutions for challenges facing the world and they came up with great ideas, we delivered the programs in middle-schools and high-schools through 8 towns in Colombia.  I am also working on the sides on LIDEROTECA, a community of leaders and readers who meet in their cities to discuss about books that approach the future and exchange those books, we are already in three cities in Latin America and we will be scaling the community through a website where people will share their ideas on the books they read. I really want to focus on ventures that can transform communities, empower people and solve a global issue.

Haley Smith