Esperanza, a local Casco Viejo non-profit organization has been named a 2016 McNulty Prize Laureate from the prestigious Aspen Institute. The $100,000 prize is awarded to those who “use entrepreneurship to address important global social issues.” As a laureate the organization will receive an award of $10,000 to continue their mission of creating opportunities former gang member to improve their lives and the community at the same time.

As a result of Esperanza’s incredible work along with the revitalization and rebuilding of Casco Viejo by local businesses and developers the area is now the safest area in Panama City.


This incredible organization has created businesses such as the Fortazleza Ex-Gang Member Tour  which is owned and operated by former gang members. Students at Casco Antiguo Spanish School and reserve the tour ($20/person) directly through the school.

Since launching the foundation in 2013, Esperanza has:

  • Graduated 43former gang members, 74%of whom are still employed to this day, 11 of whom operate their own businesses
  • Demobilized 3 rival gangs in Casco Viejo, significantly reducing crime and dramatically increasing touristic value of their former territories
  • Documented and proved their methodology to apply to new areas of the world

See their amazing work for yourself: