Hispanics create worldwide online platform to help the needy

Miami, Feb 14 (EFE).- The urge to help others led two young Hispanics to combine their knowledge of technology and business to found SmileyGo, an online platform that gets NGOs and private companies working together to help the needy.

The project originated from an idea of Peruvian Pedro David Espinoza, a 20-year-old student at the prestigious University of California, Berkeley, who, following his parents' example of always trying to help the poor in their country, wanted to do the same, but on a worldwide scale.

"When I lived in Peru I used to travel in the mountains and saw a lot of poverty, My mom founded an NGO, and that's when I started thinking there must be something we can do to improve these people's quality of life," Espinoza said in an interview with Efe.

Espinoza was not interested in creating a foundation with a limited impact - he dreamed of something far bigger that "would make social organizations more efficient and train community leaders to continue the work."

To make his ambitious dream come true, Espinoza needed the drive and enthusiasm of Mexican Dante Alvarado Leon, a student of computer sciences at Berkeley who became the cofounder and CEO of this non-profit, and whose parents also gave him the example of helping others.

The two young men joined forces to take SmileyGo to 52 countries on six continents.

"SmileyGo works with 30 student volunteers in San Francisco and another 200 around the world, because our goal is also to create leaders," Espinoza said.

To participate, NGOs register on the online platform, which will be relaunched late this month, and explain what social work they do and what they need to do it successfully. The work of the SmileyGo team is to find in the private sector the funding these organizations need and to form a kind of alliance in which all parties benefit according to their goals.

"SmileyGo not only helps NGOs but also companies seeking to improve their brand image and their positioning as providers of social aid," Espinoza said.

After six months in operation, the platform works with some 20 social work organizations around the world with the support of such companies as Motorola, Dropbox and Toyota.

These young men want SmileyGo to become "a kind of LinkedIn for NGOs and private companies that have goals of social responsibility."

Espinoza and Alvarado Leon, who launched this project guided by mentors from their university and from the universities of Stanford and Santa Clara, are also developing an educational initiative called EsQuela to help young Hispanics navigate the U.S. educational system.