"Our 13 for 13": 13 years. 13 Major Accomplishments

Then: 2004

Now: 2017

It’s been 13 years since we launched CE Solutions with our amazing team of supporters and Guatemalan colleagues. May of 2004, to be exact. It’s been one hell of a ride!

 

Some big picture stuff to start:

 

What’s been achieved:                                  Systems Changing Social Innovations Created and Scaled

How many have been helped:                    Hundreds for Thousands of Lives Impacted

Existential threats:                                        Landslides, Volcanoes, Swine Flu, Zika Virus, Political Turmoil, Economic Collapse

Our reach:                                                        Direct Impact in Over 1,000 Communities Impacted in Six Countries

Things that didn't exist:                               Facebook, Skype, Smart Phones, Gay Marriage, Skinny Jeans (like it or not)

Relationships:                                                 New Family, New Children, New Friends, New Partnerships

Economic Impact:                                          Over $10,000,000 in Local Savings and Local Income Generated

Comings and goings:                                     Amazing Co Workers Arrived and Departed to New Life Adventures

Lots of learning:                                             New Education Opportunities for Thousands of Latin American and US Students

Heartbreak:                                                     Beloved Family, Friends, Local Team Members and Supporters have passed on

An emotional roller coaster:                       Pain, Uncertainty, Failure, Success, Hope…Always Hope

 

Certainly no shortage of change and forces that have shaped our hearts and minds. Getting a bit more specific, we’ve decided to spell out briefly our 13 for 13 for you. This is our top 10 list plus three (with a bonus) with a look back THEN in 2004 and a brief description of where we are NOW.

Here's how it works. From July 20th for the next 13 days we will post one of our 13 big accomplishments per day. So, you can follow our campaign on Facebook or you can scroll down as we will then be posting each of our 13 one at a time on a daily basis below. 

 

Thank you so much for making this possible and helping us to create platforms for profound change!  We have been and continue to be so grateful to be the means by which your generosity gets converted to social impact. 

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The MicroConsignment Model: A Social Innovation with Global Reach

 

Then: 

In 2003 we had devised what we called the “Stove Model” using a consignment strategy to get people in the villages around Nebaj, Guatemala cook stoves for the first time in their lives by empowering local, first-time entrepreneurs. We were learning and scaling one village at a time with Augustin, our sole entrepreneur.

 

Now:

We renamed our model the MicroConsignment Model in 2004, and over time this social innovation created jobs for over 500 (mostly women) local community members, most of whom previously had limited to no opportunities. We have reached over one thousand villages in six countries. We have directly impacted hundreds of thousands of lives. This social innovation has won a multitude of global awards. The model has been replicated around the world in places we know of in Latin America, Africa and Asia, and in many more we will never know (that’s fine with us).  

We have delivered over 100,000 cook stoves, eye glasses, eye drops, water filters, solar lamps, and vegetable seeds in places where these solutions never existed. This has created economic impact in excess of $10,000,000 comining earnings of entrepreneurs with savings and productivity gains of community members.

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Education for Children and Youth

 

Then: 

In 2003 we started a small library in Nebaj, Guatemala and called it the Centro Explorativo (the “Centro”). We had a few hundred books and two local women working. Our aspiration was to create a central place where school children could get access to reference books they needed and could have a place to read books to foster a love of reading. Practically speaking, there was nowhere else to get books in town.

 

Now:

 

The Centro Explorativo: A Holistic and Comprehensive Learning Center

 

The Centro Explorativo is now in La Pista, a village 40 minutes walk from Nebaj. The move was made to bring us closer to those most in need. This is a now a community institution that keeps expanding. There are thousands of books. Children can now own and exchange books.  There is a computer center with internet for all to use. The Centro is a certified Guatemala computer school (learning computer is mandatory) that prevents youth from having to go all the way to Nebaj. Over 1,000 children and youth have attended classes on a daily basis learning math, reading, theater, chess, geography, you name it. There are adult education classes. There is a youth community impact group and a soccer team. There are three full-time teachers who earn a good living. Tens of thousands of healthy snacks have been distributed to children (Guatemala has devastating chronic malnutrition) who also get toothbrushes and toothpaste.  This is all owned and run by a local Association called Asociacion Centro Explorativo. All of this growth and innovation was led by local Guatemalans.

 

3

Social Entrepreneurship Education and Community Engagement – US Students and Professionals

 

Then: 

We had no real opportunities for US students or professionals to learn and engage . We had a few intrepid and passionate volunteers who would come by our work and help out every now and then. It was one-off to say the least.

 

Now:

 

Social Entrepreneur Corps: A Global Leader with Exponential Impact

 

In an effort to get more people on the ground to help us problem solve, support, create and scale and with the hopes of providing a service whereby we could earn some money to support our work, we created Social Entrepreneur Corps a little over 10 years ago. We were only working in Guatemala at the time. We started with a website built over an intense weekend and a crazy hope that some college students or recent graduates might find us somehow. To date, over 1,500 university students and professionals have worked in Guatemala, Ecuador, Nicaragua, The Dominican Republic, Haiti, South Africa and Peru through Social Entrepreneur Corps. Partners range from the likes of Duke, to Miami (Ohio), to UConn, to University of Maryland, to Notre Dame, to Northwestern, to Kennesaw State, to Deloitte and to Warby Parker. Participants have consulted for over 50 local organizations. They have supported the distribution of tens of thousands of technologies. They co created our social innovations in solar, water purification and community financed banks, to name a few. And most importantly, and possibly our greatest impact, participants have taken the empathy, adaptive leadership, collaborative skills, and innovation mindset that they gained out in the world to do truly amazing things in their lives.

SocialEntrepreneurU and “It’s about the HOW” : Online Social Entrepreneurship Education

Since starting as a Peace Corps Volunteer, co-Founder Greg Van Kirk has spent the past 16 years gaining in-depth experience and expertise as a social entrepreneur. He leads CE Solutions and Social Entrepreneur Corps. He is a member of the education leadership team of Ashoka, an Ashoka Fellow, a two-time Ashoka Globalizer, a World Economic Forum “Social Entrepreneur of the Year”, a global development consultant, and has been a  faculty member at Columbia University and NYU. He has spoken and guest lectured at dozens of universities. In an effort to share what he has learned to help other aspiring and practicing changemakers, we have created an online suite of courses in partnership with Columbia Business School at www.socialentrepreneuru.com and a blog with insights and advice at www.itsaboutthehow.com. Check these resources out. They are open to all.

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5

Locally-Owned and Managed Social Enterprises

 

Then:

 I think we were only somewhat familiar with the term social enterprise.

 

Now:

 

Soluciones Comunitarias (SolCom) Guatemala: 10 years and still making a difference

 

Soluciones Comunitarias (SolCom), the local social enterprise owned and run by local leadership, has been plugging along for over ten years with reach throughout almost the entire Western Highlands of Guatemala. This group of amazing people have led the work of the MicroConsignment Model and helped hundreds of thousands of their neighbors. They are providing health, economic, education, and environmental every day. SolCom now has an innovation workshop/fabrication center in Nebaj. SolCom has partnered with the likes of MITDLab and Whole Planet Foundation. Save one, all of the original co-founders and co-owners are still hard at work. They have created and continue to create new markets in the hardest to reach areas of the country for solutions that save lives and empower better ones. They teach and empower Social Entrepreneur Corps participants. And they teach us.

 

Solisyon Kominote Yo (SolKomYo) Haiti: Catalytic social impact where most needed

 

In 2004 we knew nothing of Haiti. Our first visit was in 2011 and, with a fair bit of anxiety, we started our work in June of 2012. We started by trying to work with a local garment factory and a few local institutions. Now the social enterprise Solisyon Kominote Yo (SolKomYo) exists. We modelled off of our SolCom experience and co-created this with local Haitian leaders we identified. SolKomYo is owned and run by local, amazing Haitians in the town of Ouanaminthe and has created impact we would have never imagined possible. You have to check out the website here to really grasp this. Here’s a quick summary. Over $1.2 million in net economic impact. 43,000 people directly impacted. Over 10,000 vital technologies purchased by community members. $40,000 plus in local savings created through new community banks. Over 50 local entrepreneurs at work. 700 people who have participated in robust financial literacy programs now led by 10 local trainers (previous graduates). We would be remiss if we didn’t give a very special shout out to Levis Strauss Foundation and the IFC for making this possible. You believed in us, we all believed in the Haitian spirit and dignity, and thankfully, our new Haitian friends were willing to take a chance with us.

 

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Community Financial Education and Community Bank Formation

 

Then:

In 2004 we certainly recognized the need for community members to learn about how to best manage their spending, savings, and credit but we had no programs contemplated. Co founder Greg Van Kirk had given brief workshops to women’s micro finance groups but that was the extent of it.

 

Now:

 

FINLIT: A robust, sustainable and scalable financial literacy program

 

Soluciones Comunitarias (SolCom), the local social enterprise owned and run by local leadership, has been plugging along for over ten years with reach throughout almost the entire Western Highlands of Guatemala. This group of amazing people have led the work of the MicroConsignment Model and helped hundreds of thousands of their neighbors. They are providing health, economic, education, and environmental every day. SolCom now has an innovation workshop/fabrication center in Nebaj. SolCom has partnered with the likes of MITDLab and Whole Planet Foundation. Save one, all of the original co-founders and co-owners are still hard at work. They have created and continue to create new markets in the hardest to reach areas of the country for solutions that save lives and empower better ones. They teach and empower Social Entrepreneur Corps participants. And they teach us.

 

FOCOPI: Scaling self-financed community banks

 

In 2004 we knew nothing of Haiti. Our first visit was in 2011 and, with a fair bit of anxiety, we started our work in June of 2012. We started by trying to work with a local garment factory and a few local institutions. Now the social enterprise Solisyon Kominote Yo (SolKomYo) exists. We modeling off of our SolCom experience and co-created this with local Haitian leaders we identified. SolKomYo is owned and run by local, amazing Haitians in the town of Ouanaminthe and has created impact we would have never imagined possible. You have to check out the website here to really grasp this. Here’s a quick summary. Over $1.2 million in net economic impact. 43,000 people directly impacted. Over 10,000 vital technologies purchased by community members. $40,000 plus in local savings created through new community banks. Over 50 local entrepreneurs at work. 700 people who have participated in robust financial literacy programs now led by 10 local trainers (previous graduates). We would be remiss if we didn’t give a very special shout out to Levis Strauss Foundation and the IFC for making this possible. You believed in us, we all believed in the Haitian spirit and dignity, and thankfully, our new Haitian friends were willing to take a chance with us.

 

8
9

A Local Tourism Ecosystem of New Income and Jobs

 

Then: 

In 2003 we started a small library in Nebaj, Guatemala and called it the Centro Explorativo (the “Centro”). We had a few hundred books and two local women working. Our aspiration was to create a central place where school children could get access to reference books they needed and could have a place to read books to foster a love of reading. Practically speaking, there was nowhere else to get books in town.

 

Now:

 

Turismo Ixil: 15 years of bringing new income to a remote Maya community

 

The Centro Explorativo is now in La Pista, a village 40 minutes walk from Nebaj. The move was made to bring us closer to those most in need. This is a now a community institution that keeps expanding. There are thousands of books. Children can now own and exchange books.  There is a computer center with internet for all to use. The Centro is a certified Guatemala computer school (learning computer is mandatory) that prevents youth from having to go all the way to Nebaj. Over 1,000 children and youth have attended classes on a daily basis learning math, reading, theater, chess, geography, you name it. There are adult education classes. There is a youth community impact group and a soccer team. There are three full-time teachers who earn a good living. Tens of thousands of healthy snacks have been distributed to children (Guatemala has devastating chronic malnutrition) who also get toothbrushes and toothpaste.  This is all owned and run but a local Association called Asociacion Centro Explorativo. All of this growth and innovation was led by local Guatemalans.

 

10

Diverse Organizational and Local Revenue Generation Opportunities Created

 

Then: 

In 2003 we started a small library in Nebaj, Guatemala and called it the Centro Explorativo (the “Centro”). We had a few hundred books and two local women working. Our aspiration was to create a central place where school children could get access to reference books they needed and could have a place to read books to foster a love of reading. Practically speaking, there was nowhere else to get books in town.

 

Now:

 

The New Development Solutions Group: Leveraging expertise and "assets"

 

The Centro Explorativo is now in La Pista, a village 40 minutes walk from Nebaj. The move was made to bring us closer to those most in need. This is a now a community institution that keeps expanding. There are thousands of books. Children can now own and exchange books.  There is a computer center with internet for all to use. The Centro is a certified Guatemala computer school (learning computer is mandatory) that prevents youth from having to go all the way to Nebaj. Over 1,000 children and youth have attended classes on a daily basis learning math, reading, theater, chess, geography, you name it. There are adult education classes. There is a youth community impact group and a soccer team. There are three full time teachers who earn a good living. Tens of thousands of healthy snacks have been distributed to children (Guatemala has devastating chronic malnutrition) who also get toothbrushes and toothpaste.  This is all owned and run but a local Association called Asociacion Centro Explorativo. All of this growth and innovation was led by local Guatemalans.

11

Support for Other Organizations both Near and Far

 

Then: 

In 2003 we started a small library in Nebaj, Guatemala and called it the Centro Explorativo (the “Centro”). We had a few hundred books and two local women working. Our aspiration was to create a central place where school children could get access to reference books they needed and could have a place to read books to foster a love of reading. Practically speaking, there was nowhere else to get books in town.

 

Now:

 

Helping others achieve their missions of social impact

 

The Centro Explorativo is now in La Pista, a village 40 minutes walk from Nebaj. The move was made to bring us closer to those most in need. This is a now a community institution that keeps expanding. There are thousands of books. Children can now own and exchange books.  There is a computer center with internet for all to use. The Centro is a certified Guatemala computer school (learning computer is mandatory) that prevents youth from having to go all the way to Nebaj. Over 1,000 children and youth have attended classes on a daily basis learning math, reading, theater, chess, geography, you name it. There are adult education classes. There is a youth community impact group and a soccer team. There are three full time teachers who earn a good living. Tens of thousands of healthy snacks have been distributed to children (Guatemala has devastating chronic malnutrition) who also get toothbrushes and toothpaste.  This is all owned and run but a local Association called Asociacion Centro Explorativo. All of this growth and innovation was led by local Guatemalans.

12

Empathy, connections, friendship, community and teamwork

 

Then: 

In 2003 we started a small library in Nebaj, Guatemala and called it the Centro Explorativo (the “Centro”). We had a few hundred books and two local women working. Our aspiration was to create a central place where school children could get access to reference books they needed and could have a place to read books to foster a love of reading. Practically speaking, there was nowhere else to get books in town.

 

Now:

 

The good fortune of working, building and facilitating thousands of new relationships

 

The Centro Explorativo is now in La Pista, a village 40 minutes walk from Nebaj. The move was made to bring us closer to those most in need. This is a now a community institution that keeps expanding. There are thousands of books. Children can now own and exchange books.  There is a computer center with internet for all to use. The Centro is a certified Guatemala computer school (learning computer is mandatory) that prevents youth from having to go all the way to Nebaj. Over 1,000 children and youth have attended classes on a daily basis learning math, reading, theater, chess, geography, you name it. There are adult education classes. There is a youth community impact group and a soccer team. There are three full time teachers who earn a good living. Tens of thousands of healthy snacks have been distributed to children (Guatemala has devastating chronic malnutrition) who also get toothbrushes and toothpaste.  This is all owned and run but a local Association called Asociacion Centro Explorativo. All of this growth and innovation was led by local Guatemalans.

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Contact us at:

CE Solutions

74 Riverside Drive, Apt 4F

New York, New York 10024

gregvankirk@cesolutions.org

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