Social Innovations

The MicroConsignment Model

The mission of the MicroConsignment Model is to create first-time access to life-changing technologies, products and services for isolated villagers through locally-owned, managed and sustainable (profitable) entrepreneurial solutions. Poverty and inequality is a symptom of a wider problem: lack of access and opportunity. Microcredit has offered one solution to this problem: access to capital for entrepreneurs in the developing world.  But so far no one has implemented—at scale—a model that creates access to economic, health and environmental solutions to a wide spectrum of issues, including chronic conditions such as pulmonary and gastrointestinal illnesses, vision problems, malnutrition, water scarcity, and lack of energy.  Community Enterprise Solutions (CE Solutions) has solved this access problem through the creation and implementation of its MicroConsignment Model (MCM).

Self-Financed Community Banks (FOCOPI)

CE Solutions is continually innovating to help low-income individuals save for and invest in the future of their businesses and families. FOCOPI (Community Fund for Prevention and Investment) is one of our most recent social innovations that builds off of the successful CAF model. CE Solutions builds the capacity of individuals (primarily women) to form savings and credit groups that are wholly-led and owned by the group members themselves. By the end of 2016 CE Solutions had formed 31 groups comprising of 450+ members. All members take part in financial literacy capacity building at the beginning of the process. These groups of people who often earn between $100 and $200 per month, have taken the initiative to save roughly $29,500 in aggregate and have distributed loans to the members slightly in excess of this. All interest rates are determined by the group and treated as dividends distributed proportionally to group members. FOCOPI “La Esperanza”, for example, accumulated $2,650 in savings, provided $4,191 in loans to members, and generated $511 in interest payments/dividends.  Maria Sotz and her son Wilfred became trainers and started seven (7) groups themselves. Roughly 200 loans were extended in total in 2016 alone. These loans support family healthcare expenses, put new doors on houses, help family members start businesses, and cover education expenses. They support the unexpected expenses which often keep people from escaping the cycle of poverty.

The Collaborative (El Colaborativo)

There are many organizations who are doing amazing work locally and internationally, but the ecosystem is fragmented, and we are not capturing/optimizing it. Starting with Soluciones Comunitarias and Community Empowerment Solutions current relationships/networks, we aim to build a community of mutually supportive organizations (in country) supported by a community of individuals (largely in US) to more effectively and efficiently serve communities in need in Latin America. El Colaborativo aims to be a community of organizations and individuals who continue to provide their direct services and innovative work, but also collaborate with each other to create leveraged impact. “Members” of El Colaborativo may engage in a host of activities. They might provide professional development support to each other’s teams. They might provide access to each other’s constituencies. They might share best practices. They might share resources. And on a cross-border basis, they might benefit from remote consulting from students and professionals. There are an array of activities and benefits that we are exploring. The goal is to have a community of likeminded individuals/organizations who recognize that we can do more together than alone and, who share the same values and desire to collaborate to generate social change.

 

 

Organizations

Turimso Ixil Logo.jpg

Turismo Ixil, starting with El Descanso restaurant, was our first social venture. This was launched waaay back in 2002 and it's still going strong. Over 17 years this has generated $2 million + in local revenues providing dignified jobs to local youth and adults in Nebaj, Guatemala. Through tourism, new income is created in Nebaj from outside sources and a multiplier effect is created as the vast majority of “raw materials” are purchased in the local market. Visit the Tourismo Ixil website here

CE Solutions continues to be the primary source of financial support for the Centro Explorativo (the “Centro”) education center. Started in 2003 under the leadership of Greg Van Kirk, the Centro has evolved from a small library with a few hundred books to a local association owned and led by community members that serves thousands every year. It is located in the village of La Pista (population approx. 2.500) and is the only institution of its kind for over a hundred miles in every direction. 2016 was another year of tremendous impact. The Centro provided 10 local people with employment, three of whom work full time teaching and leading student/youth activities. It offers children and youth access to over 2,000 books of all kinds. 1743 local children and youth visited the Centro in 2016. 131 participated in computer classes sanctioned (and required) by the Guatemalan education authorities. 339 adults participated in educational workshops. 65 children attended daily classes where they learned art, math, science, Spanish and English. 70 youth participated in a book exchange program. 54 youth were part of a “Community Impact Club” where they worked on local environmental projects and learned about vegetable gardening. And the Centro provided 17,520 healthy snacks throughout the year. The importance of this in particular cannot be overstated as 80% of indigenous children in Guatemala live with chronic malnutrition and as a result will suffer from growth and cognitive challenges in the future. Providing access to jobs, books, classes, technology, community impact opportunities and free nutritious food, the Centro is a beacon of empowerment for the region led by the community members themselves. We provide support of roughly $24,000 per year and it is likely the best investment we can ever make. We hope you will support these efforts.

Soluciones Comunitarias is the primary initiative created by Community Enterprise Solutions/Social Entrepreneur Corps leadership to design and implement innovative, practical, efficient and effective entrepreneurial and educational solutions with and for our constituents in rural, developing world communities. Leadership concluded several years ago that, whilst we play a critical role in incubating new ideas, training and growth, a separate, financially and administratively sustainable organization needed to be created to perpetuate the development/social entrepreneurship initiatives over the long term.  As such, following our example of creating the locally owned and profitable tourism businesses in Nebaj, Guatemala, leadership established “Soluciones Comunitarias” (SolCom), a Guatemalan company/social enterprise. SolCom is owned and managed by our constituents who have “risen through the ranks” as leaders.

CE Solutions began working in Ouanaminthe, Haiti in August of 2012 with the support of the IFC and Levi Strauss Foundation. The challenge was this. Starting with a garment factory as a point of entry, how do we create profound community impact for both the workers of the factory and their fellow community members given that we have total of ZERO experience in Haiti?  How do you do this in a community with frankly hardly any access to anything? Our response was this. We leveraged our expertise and the local ecosystem of institutions and community members to co create an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation with community priorities and leadership at the center of everything. The results in 2016 and over these past four years have been nothing short of hands down THE most affirming example of the power and dignity of people living in even the most challenging environments. Three key data points from our impact report to note. A social enterprise, Solkomyo, co created, owned and led by Haitians. 43,000 direct beneficiaries impacted. And $1.3 million in economic impact. And our work was affirmed by Levi Strauss Co. as we were voted as “Community Partner of the Year” and have been asked by the company to replicate this work globally. To note, this was all achieved on a budget averaging less than $100,000 per year. It’s not about the “how much”, it’s about the “how”. PS - Check out this great story about how even the seemingly smallest "nudges" can create profound impact. 

 

Awards, Recognition + Media

 
 

Engage

We have created a whole host of ways to learn and engage. Our leadership and local teams have been hard at work over the years to create opportunities for people to benefit from and provide benefit to our efforts. We continually work to leverage our resources, relationships and knowledge to create “win wins”. Scroll down to find ways that you can volunteer, learn about social entrepreneurship from a practitioner’s perspective, learn Spanish online, engage with us as consultants/advisors, and take advantage of unique home stay experiences.

Contribute

Social Entrepreneur Corps offers students and professionals the real world opportunity to work side-by-side with and learn from practicing social entrepreneurs in Latin America. Participants engage with CE Solutions individuals/entrepreneurs, local partners and communities to diagnose needs and create, implement and grow social innovations focused on intelligently helping impoverished, marginalized and vulnerable families build better lives for themselves and for their neighbors. Within all of our programs we work as a team and teams  so that our participants can play an important role in creating social innovation impact, and through this, gain the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to become the high impact leaders and social entrepreneurs of the future. All revenues over direct costs are used to fund the work of CE Solutions. 

Get experience in the field with us 

Social Entrepreneur Corps offers students and professionals the real world opportunity to work side-by-side with and learn from practicing social entrepreneurs in Latin America. Participants engage with CE Solutions individuals/entrepreneurs, local partners and communities to diagnose needs and create, implement and grow social innovations focused on intelligently helping impoverished, marginalized and vulnerable families build better lives for themselves and for their neighbors. Within all of our programs we work as a team and teams  so that our participants can play an important role in creating social innovation impact, and through this, gain the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to become the high impact leaders and social entrepreneurs of the future. All revenues over direct costs are used to fund the work of CE Solutions. 

Social Entrepreneurship Insights, Resources + Tools

This is Greg Van Kirk’s new blog. Are you looking to make a difference in your community or a nearby community in need? Are you a budding social entrepreneur, Peace Corps volunteer, or summer student volunteer? Do you want to help folks in your organization learn a bit about how to go about creating social impact from someone who has given it his best shot over the years? Do you want your students to get a better understating about how to go about this work in a practical sense? If you are nodding your head “yes”, then maybe this is for you. Check in every once in a while and we believe you will find some value.

 

Contact us at:

CE Solutions

74 Riverside Drive, Apt 4F

New York, New York 10024

gregvankirk@cesolutions.org

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