Owing to his impressive economic vision and concern for the environment, José Adolfo Quisocala Condori, a 13-year-old youth from Arequipa, was awarded the 'Children's Climate Prize 2018', an award promoted by Telge Energi in Stockholm, Sweden. The popular 'banker boy' tells us about his Cooperative Eco-Bank project and his personal life:
How and when did this concern for the environment start?
It all started when I was 7 years old, when I was nominated as mayor of my school and as such one of my roles was to help my community, and in this case, my school was my community. Normally, the mayors were fourth or fifth graders and I was in the first grade of elementary school, yet I was selected. What I wanted was to help my classmates. There were students who had trouble buying their snacks and school supplies for lack of money, in addition to the fact that the children contaminated the school with toy or food packaging. Since I wanted to teach my classmates how to conserve and take care of the environment, the idea of the Bartselana Student Bank was born.
Tell me, what is the Cooperative Eco-Bank about and what is its long-term objective?
Around 3,000 children participate in Cooperative Eco-Bank. We have three savings plans: one is the 'Savings Plan', where the child has a goal. For example, to buy a bicycle that costs 200 soles. We help them in different ways so that they can reach their goal and at the same time take care of the environment. The other plan is called 'Mobile Savings', where children bring in their solid waste and the value of that waste is deposited into their Visa savings account; they decide how they spend or what they do with that money. Another benefit is the 'Eco-Store', where we want the child to learn how to take out microloans to buy basic necessities or school supplies, then the child signs a commitment where they agree to pay with solid waste. And what happens when a child doesn't comply? We don't charge them interest to make the debt infinite, but help them find a way to pay if they don't have cash.
What went through your mind when you were told that you won the 'Children’s Climate Prize 2018' and that you had to travel to Stockholm, Sweden to receive the prize?
I applied for the prize; an anonymous person contacted me to participate. Two weeks before the award ceremony, I was informed that I was one of the five finalists and that I had to travel to Stockholm. I was very excited, packing my suitcase, and they called me a week before the awards to let me know that I was the winner. When I found out, I was incredibly happy. At the awards ceremony in Sweden, I was very excited, and the panel told me that my project definitely had to win.
You made Peru proud, beating the projects of children from different parts of the world such as Ukraine, Colombia, the United States and Sweden. How does this make you feel?
There are very good projects, for example, children in Colombia protest against deforestation, and girls in the United States make renewable energy, solar and wind energy. It made me very happy to meet them and realize that they also have very good projects, and they told me about their ideas. I know that any one of the five finalists could have won, but being the winner, I was very flattered.
The Children’s Climate Prize panel said that you could win the Nobel Prize in Economics in the future. Do you think that's possible?
Hopefully someday, who knows. They told me that I spoke like a Nobel winner. I think so, I would like to one day win the Nobel Peace Prize or the Nobel Prize in Economics.
With these innovative ideas, what is the vision of your projects for the future, what do you hope to achieve?
We need a last bit of support or a push to reach many more children. There are children everywhere and the Student Bank can be in any country, in any city. The support of a company that wants to support social projects is very important for us to expand.
Are there companies or organizations interested in investing in your project or implementing it?
Before winning the Stockholm prize, I was contacted by financial institutions, and there was one company in particular that was interested in my project, but unfortunately it didn't come to anything. However, there are companies that help me with the issue of recycling in Arequipa, such as Papelera Panamericana, and the local authorities, among others. I hope that someday some company will help me expand my project faster.
Tell me, what career would you like to pursue and what are your career goals?
I would like to be able to study Economics, carry out social projects that I have in mind, entrepreneurial projects, create a foundation to be able to help those most in need, teenagers and those less fortunate, and perhaps one day become president of Peru.
Tell me a little about your daily life, how much time do you dedicate to your project? What do you like to do in your free time?
I dedicate a big part of my day to the project, I have super busy days. I like to watch series and movies, and reading.
What role do your parents play in your personal projects?
My father supports me a lot in the Cooperative Eco-Bank project, he partly left his job to spend time with me and support me almost all day, and my mother also supports me a lot, as well as my relatives.
Who gave you the nickname "banker boy"? Do you like your nickname?
(laughs) Everyone calls me that when I go out on the street, I don't dislike it, it makes me laugh. I got it from the press, specifically the Univisión network, and it honestly doesn't bother me.
Your story is going to make it to the big screen thanks to Disney. Tell me a little about this documentary that is going to be produced by the international channel.
It's a documentary film, we already filmed with Disney in Arequipa and they accompanied me to the award ceremony in Stockholm, and we will continue working throughout the coming year. The film will be shown internationally. Appearing in a Disney production is a dream. Which child wouldn't want to go to Disney or appear in one of its movies? The premiere is set for November 20, 2019.
What advice would you give children so that they can launch innovative ideas like your project?
If you have an idea, make it happen. You have to believe in children, who would imagine that a 7 year old boy would have a bank. If you have an idea, believe in it and don't worry about what others say. And adults should believe in children. If what you do has a positive impact on society, give it your all. Every project takes effort and time, but the end result is what matters.