Innova Nation - building the next generation of sustainable entrepreneurs

“Our mission at Innova Nation is to catalyze sustainable change through entrepreneurship and education.”

-Karin Sempf

Karin Sempf - CEO and Founder of Innova Nation - Panama 

2023 WE Empower Finalist, Latin America and Caribbean

Though previously a lawyer, Karin Sempf has found purpose through her work as a businesswoman, changemaker, and educator. She is the founder of the educational lab Innova Nation, which aims to inspire and educate children ages eight to 18 to think sustainably and to solve problems through the lens of an entrepreneur. Through their curriculum and programs, they hope to equip their students with the education, skills, and knowledge required to solve problems and bring ideas to fruition. Within this mission is the goal of emphasizing sustainable and environmentally conscious values and solutions in their students to carry with them in the future. 

An Extensive Impact Innova Nation’s programs are designed to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs, sustainability leaders, and innovators. They are hands-on experiences that stimulate creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving skills. These educational programs support SDG 4 (Quality Education) as their intention is to teach youth of all ages and backgrounds how to think effectively and enact solutions in the modern world. About the programs, Sempf says, “Our vision is to create a world where young people are better equipped to create meaningful change and shape a better future for themselves and their communities.” Innova Nation has worked with over 12,500 students, 150 schools, and 175 mentors. Their programs have generated more than 500 ideas and have formed more than 100 partnerships and alliances with other organizations.

A Force for Multi-Faceted Good

While the overarching focus is on promoting innovative thinking and entrepreneurship for students, Innova Nation also supports SDG 13 (Climate Action). They do so by emphasizing sustainable thinking and environmental leadership in conjunction with their education programs. They work to instill an awareness in students for the impacts of their actions on the environment and future generations. Innova Nation supports SDG 5 (Gender Equality) through its programs aimed at encouraging young women’s involvement in entrepreneurship programs. They hold all-girl STEAM camps for social risk or low income girls ages eight to 15 with focuses on self-esteem development, leadership, and values. Sempf says, “As a woman, I search to break the glass ceiling of innovation and science for girls and youth. Many situations, people, and environments have played a crucial role in shaping my passion for advocating for educational equality in STEAM learning.” Innova Nation’s curriculum also supports the SDG mission as a whole. The programs introduce the SDGs to students, the majority of whom have no knowledge of them, and get the participants to a point where they are actively engaging with the goals and proposing ideas to address them. 

A Curriculum that Inspires

Innova Nation designs their programs according to their methodology of change. The first step is “The Spark”, which involves an annual festival with interactive activities dealing with leadership, STEAM, entrepreneurship, sustainability, and creativity. The second step is “The Ignition”, which is a series of events of panels of experts and hands-on workshops. The third step, “The Tools”, includes courses that give students the skills and knowledge to become innovators and entrepreneurs. Next is “Integrate”, when students take what they’ve learned and generate their own original ideas. The final step is “The Launch,” where students are connected to growth opportunities, become mentors themselves, and build communities. On this curriculum, Sempf shares, “I believe Innova Nation can aid in closing [the education gap] through our Theory of Change, in which we develop our students into changemakers, leaders, entrepreneurs, and agents of change.”

“I have found a purpose and a driving force that resonates with me so now my energy is fully focused in closing the gap that exists between students of our region and the rest of a highly competitive world.”

-Karin Sempf

By Samantha Chapman, WE Empower Intern