Dr Marcela Benitez, a geographer and sociologist by training, spent seven years traveling throughout Argentina as part of her work as an academic researcher for the National Research Council for Science and Technology (CONICET). During this time, she observed first-hand the economic and social problems that were arising in the small, isolated rural villages outside of Buenos Aires and other parts of the country.
On 1999, putting her research on small rural villages into action, she established RESPONDE, which has galvanized people to become involved in generating new opportunities for these villages. RESPONDE designs and implements strategies aimed at improving social and economic opportunities of rural communities at risk of disappearing due to depopulation.
Working with interested companies, universities, private citizens and local government, RESPONDE builds the capacity of townspeople to engage successfully in new avenues for generating livelihoods and economic and social projects. The organization creates social recovery models that can be replicated in other villages in Argentina and other countries.
Up until now, Responde has offered 621 social and economic opportunities in 145 rural villages in Argentina.
Dr Marcela Benitez was named in 2006 by Schwab Foundation “The Entrepreneur of the year in Argentina”.