Completed Research

The ‘Making’ of a Makerspace: Community Stories and Lessons from Interventions in Cerro del Cuatro

University of Toronto

Although youth living in the Cerro del Cuatro community in Mexico face significant social and economic challenges, they also live in a community experimenting with entrepreneurship and improving socioeconomic conditions. This research analyzes how three global makerspaces operate in their own communities. The case studies can be used to inform further student research through the Professional Application Projects at ITESO University where learners seek to adapt contextually similar interventions to the local context of marginalized youth.

The Hard to Reach

Youth living in Cerro Del Cuatro, Guadalajara seeking safe community involvement opportunities.

Key Takeaways

The FabLab, like all makerspaces, is fluid in the role it plays and the impact it can have in the community. Makerspaces can be places to gather, but they can also be places to build community, to network, teach, learn and grow. The FabLab could be a place to respond to local emergencies and local needs as they arise — a place that fills hard and soft skills gaps to help grow people’s personal economic potential.  It can also be a place that capitalizes on presently available goods that might not currently be used to their fullest potential. Three contextually similar interventions were evaluated to see if they could be implemented in the Cerro del Cuatro context.

  1. Our feasibility review of implementing the Make the Masks initiative in the Fablab context highlighted the challenges, solutions and questions from local stakeholders to inspire local innovation and ownership in designing targeted solutions to a shared problem.
  2. Fully applying South Africa’s Craft and Design Institute model in the local community includes: tailoring the workshops to the local community’s needs, developing opportunities to provide product support to local business based on the machines available at the FabLab and ensuring that the FabLab has female representation to encourage women’s involvement.
  3. Inspired by Scloop, and relying on a pre-existing culture of re-use and repair, the community can further develop their skills and abilities by using principles of upcycling to aid the production of new goods.


This research was made possible by ITESO Universidad and through the Reach Alliance, a partnership between the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. Research was also funded by the Ralph and Roz Halbert Professorship of Innovation at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. We express our gratitude and appreciation to those we met and interviewed

This research was vetted and received approval from the Ethics Review Board at the University of Toronto. This research was conducted virtually during the Covid-19 pandemic in compliance with local public health measures.