The beginnings of the Foundation

IMEK Research Center in Marketing & Development was constituted by a private document on March 18 of 2021 and registered with the Chamber of Commerce of Cali, Colombia, on May 25 of the same year as a non-profit private Foundation led by women, with the objective of addressing challenges related to health, education and gender in the Global South.

Consequently, our social purpose is aligned with global, national, and local agendas that seek sustainable development. For this reason, the Foundation seeks to contribute to advancing these agendas through its three areas of action: research, capacity building and knowledge exchange.

In words of the founding member, “the purpose of IMEK is to create a bridge to connect underserved populations, with people and organizations with the capacity to take decisions and generate structural changes to improve the conditions and quality life of these populations. All this based on evidence”.

Thus, taking into account the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a global commitment that prioritizes equality and the dignity of people; the main contribution of the Foundation will be the generation of scientific evidence and research capabilities to have a positive impact on the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. Besides, there is a personal commitment, because the founder of IMEK tells that when she was a child, she was exposed to contexts of underserved populations that made her very sensitive to social inequalities which, in turn, boosted her service vocation and motivation to contribute to the construction of peace societies through marketing.

Thereby, between 2012 and 2014, the idea of creating a social organization emerged. At the beginning it was challenging to explain that marketing is not only useful for commercial purposes, said the founding member. Among these challenges were the lack of knowledge about how marketing could contribute to social change, and the lack of scientific evidence, from Global South perspectives, about the applications of marketing to foster sustainable change. The experience of the founding member learning about contexts similar to that of Colombia helped to prioritize social issues to address through IMEK. The valuable insights provided by researchers and practitioners working in the country, also helped to understand the scientific research national context, and the regulations for creating a social organization.

It should be noted that although the idea to create the foundation was not originated precisely in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization was legalized within this context. Subsequently, similar to other organizations it was also impacted by the pandemic during its start-up phase. For example, one of consequences of the pandemic was having more restrictions to access to research funding as a result of a reduction of the budget that was designated for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) by big donor countries such as the United Kingdom (UK) (UKRI, 2021). However, despite this and other limitations, IMEK Research Center in Marketingg & Development continues its commitment to address issues related to health, education and gender in the Global South by generating evidence to inform public and private initiatives oriented towards social, economic and environmental development.

Authors: Caicedo, M J; López Sánchez, M C.


UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). (2021, March 11). UKRI Official Development Assistance letter 11 March 2021. UKRI.

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Stephanie Aya Pastrana, MSc
Adherent Member


Stephanie is an architect from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali with a master’s degree in Urban Strategies and Design from the University of Edinburgh. She has professional experience in the design and development of architectural projects of different scales, also developing research projects related to the quality of public spaces in Cali (Colombia) and sustainable construction. She currently works as a consultant and full-time professor at the Faculty of Creation and Habitat of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali.