On October 9, 2009, Columbia Business School held its annual Social Enterprise Conference. This year's conference, entitled "From Vision to Practice," focused on case studies of the procedural life-cycle of a social venture--from broad vision to specific practice--in order to highlight how social organizations can not only survive the economic recession, but thrive after its turn-around. One such organization is CinePop, a for-profit social enterprise that brings free outdoor movie screenings to suburban Mexican populations. Ariel Zylbersztejn, CinePop's founder and managing director, spoke to a room full of students, professors, and social entrepreneurs about how he made his vision a reality.
Ariel Zylbersztejn has always spoken film. From a young age, this Mexican-born son of Uruguayan immigrants has been communicating via the visual medium. At age 18, he began his formal study in communications, traveling to New York to attend the New York Film Academy. Ariel has dedicated his life to directing and producing a number of short films, including Jai, which has been featured in over 60 film festivals as well as at Cannes. So it was no surprise that Ariel opened the panel, Entertainment as an Innovative Platform for Social Services: A Case Study from Mexico, in his own language: with a film. In three short minutes, viewers learned how Zylbersztejn created an organization called CinePop, which has not only brought the cinema to over 550,000 Mexicans who would otherwise find the cost of a movie ticket prohibitively expensive, but created an entirely new and sustainable social business model in the process.