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empowered opportunities

We hope you will support our work.  We need your support now in order to continue with our mission of helping to empower marginalized, low-income communities in the developing world.  Over the course of the next TWO MONTHS, we are seeking grants and donations in a total of $75,000. This is our last big ask! We need your support. As you can read from our 2016 accomplishments below and our "13 for 13",  your generosity creates profound social impact. This is because we are continuously leveraging our know-how, resources, and relationships to build new and innovative ways to create innovative sustainability and scale.  As a social innovation of our “umbrella” organization, New Development Solutions Group, the CE Solutions leadership team never stops creating new ways to empower through opportunity. All revenues from all of our ventures go to support the team and work of CE Solutions.  We know there are a great many essential causes to support. We hope we can count on you to support ours. Thank you very much for your consideration.

One Year Goals from April 1st, 2017

Following is our summary list of what we will achieve in the coming 12 months. By taking a holistic approach to community empowerment and through leveraging the heck out of (technical term) your contributions, we will create profound economic, health, education and energy impact this year. Most importantly, by empowering the leaders of both today and tomorrow, the impact of our efforts will sustain itself and grow for many, many years to come.


This is the number of communities in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Mexico, The Dominican Republic and Haiti where our work will create a direct and substantial impact. 

This is the number of organizations and individuals that we aspire to bring into our new community building effort called "SocioSolCom". The goal is to create a self-supporting community of social impact focused local organizations and individuals from Guatemala, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Mexico, The Dominican Republic and Haiti supported by social impact focused individuals from the US and beyond. 

This is the number of non-profits and social innovation organizations working in the developing world to whom we will provide in-depth knowledge of our award-winning MicroConsignment Model

This number of full-time jobs we have created for local leaders working in our social impact and innovation initiatives that we will continue to support through our work. Get to know some of these amazing people here

This the number of unique, part-time jobs that will exist as a DIRECT consequence of our work that otherwise would not have existed.

This is the amount of local  compensation that will have been created over the year from our work. This is all new income that would not exist were it not for our efforts.  

This is the number of individuals(primarily rural women) who will be engaged in savings and credit in our new self-financed community banking social innovation (FOCOPI).   Our goal is that they will have total savings of over $50,000 and will exceed $75,000 in loan disbursements.

This is the number of rural family members who will benefit from first-time access to vital technologies such as water filters, cook stoves, eye glasses and solar lamps.

This is the number “last mile” technology solutions that we will vet and pilot in the communities where we work. This will benefit our constituents and as well provide critical information to technology providers. This will be led through our www.ultimiya.com program. Any and all consulting revenues will be reinvested in our work.   

This is the total number of volunteer hours that will benefit our efforts and those of our great organizational partners through our sister organization, www.socialentrepreneurcorps.com.

This is the number of students and professionals who will engage with our work and gain knowledge/insights through  www.socialentrepreneurcorps.com, www.spanishforimpact.com and our new online social entrepreneurship coursework at www.socialentrepreneuru.com.     

This is the number of children and youth who we will directly impact through the Centro Explorativo and our new “Youth for Impact” (Jovenes de Impacto) work in rural communities.  

This is the number of local grassroots organizations that we will directly support through workshops, trainings and consultancy deliverables. See  a list of some of these great organizations here

This is the amount of our operating budget that needs to be covered through grants and donations. This number continues to decrease through the incredible leverage created by www.socialentrepreneurcorps.com, www.ultimiya.com, our new online coursework at www.socialentreprenueru.com, www.spanishforimpact.com, www.certifiedhomestay.com, technology sales in communities and through generous in-kind donations from companies like www.warbyparker.com.


2016 Social Innovation and Impact

Imagine a program/model of a non-profit as a tool. Some organizations offer one tool. This can create incredible impact. Now image a tool box. Other organizations offer a tool box full of tools.  This is what CE Solutions does. But we do so much more. We work to empower local leaders and communities to not simply build social impact with the tool kit of innovations we have developed, rather we help to empower them to become the architects of their own futures. Cheesy maybe, but apt. We approach our work with the view that communities should be the designers, not simply the receivers. We spark, they build the fire. They are producers, not consumers. They lead, we facilitate. Read about our 2016 social innovations and impacts below  to see how we put this ethos into action and how communities are lifting themselves up in amazing new ways every day. 

FOCOPI: Auto-Financed Community Banks
Empowered saving and credit opportunities for 450+ members in 31 community banks

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. Recently the group formed by the leadership of Soluciones Comunitarias (SolCom) in Guatemala combined their funds to purchase water filters. SolCom members generate income by selling the filters and then pay back the loan which generates dividends. Other groups and members use their newly generated savings to buy cook stoves, solar lamps and the like which creates further household savings. CE Solutions aspires to double the number of groups over the next year and continue to support the sustainability of those already created.

Financial Literacy and Community Banking Success in Rural Guatemala

Learn about the impact of FOCOPI from community members who are benefiting from this work.  

Posts are coming soon
Stay tuned...
El Centro Explorativo: The Community Education Center
Entering 15 years of transformative educational efforts in rural Guatemala by Guatemalans

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.

Ingenieros Comunitarios: Rural Community Engineers 
A local region empowered to create and build their own social impact solutions

CE Solutions has helped hundreds of thousands of low-income community members get first-time access to vital technologies over the years through our MicroConsignment Model. However, these technologies have almost exclusively come from other countries. So, roughly four years ago we decided to work with our local leadership in Guatemala to create local design and manufacturing capacity. The idea was to create jobs, lower costs, create more “just in time” inventory capacity and empower community members to use their incredible creativity to build solutions for themselves.  This led to the opening of the Nebaj Innovation Workshop. This is now where 100% of the stoves and water filters are manufactured/assembled that Soluciones Comunitarias, the local social enterprise we co founded in 2005, distributes throughout the country. To note, this has brought the cost of water filters down over 30%. But I gets better. In 2016 we teamed up with MITD-Lab to implement their “Creative Capacity Building” methodology in the Ixil Region of Guatemala. 20  local men and women were trained by MIT leadership and earned over $17,000 (thanks to a grant from IADB) supporting 542 community members from 27 communities who designed and built 25 prototypes of technology solutions to serve their communities. The capacity to innovate abounds. Hundreds of people in rural Guatemala now have the know-how and means to convert that innovation into impact. And this will live on, regardless of what we do in the future. That’s empowerment.

SolKomYo: Driving an ecosystem of success in Haiti
A locally-owned social enterprise impacting thousands of Haitains continuously

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. 

Spanish for Impact: Spanish by Educator Entrepreneurs
A new local, social enterprise and opportunity for Guatemalan Spanish teachers

CE Solutions’ sister organization, Social Entrepreneur Corps, has provided the support of nearly 1,500 interns and volunteers to our work over the past ten years. This has provided us with immeasurable human capital impact and not insignificant financial capital. And it has also helped us to create hundreds of jobs and hundreds of thousands of dollars of income for local businesses and entrepreneurs in Guatemala, Ecuador, The Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. In particular, we create jobs for Spanish teachers who prepare students for their social entrepreneurship work in communities. In 2016 52 teachers earned nearly $25,000 in aggregate. But there’s more. Leveraging their expertise we created Spanish for Impact (SFI). SFI creates jobs for education entrepreneurs in Guatemala who teach conversational Spanish online. This is another example of CE Solutions’ ability to turn local capacity into local enterprise that empowers impact through entrepreneurship. Sign up! Learn, make friends and make a difference.  

Social Entrepreneur Corps: Community Consulting
New strategies & resources for 35+ organizations in 4 countries from 200+ volunteers/interns

CE Solutions’ sister organization Social Entrepreneur Corps has been empowering university students and corporate teams as “Community Consultants” since 2006. Students and professionals work side-by-side in Guatemala, Ecuador, The Dominican Republic and Ecuador with the CE Solutions team and our local colleagues to conduct feasibility studies, design pilot projects, support entrepreneurs, conduct evaluations and scale. This work has played an instrumental role in scaling the depth and breadth of the MicroConsignment Model mitigating the need to raise funds for human resources. In addition, these interns/volunteers are introduced to and provide short-term free consulting to other great organizations in the countries where we work. These local organizations typically have no other means for consulting support. In 2016, Social Entrepreneur Corps participants consulted for myriad organizations ranging from artisan groups, to micro finance groups, to libraries, to government offices, to a school for children with special needs. Through this effort we are able to support thousands of vulnerable community members leveraging existing efforts with no additional cost to CE Solutions.

Certified Homestay: Income Through Hospitality
168 families netted $60,000+ in total by hosting 187 volunteers and interns

At times some of the greatest impact you create comes as a result of building an ecosystem of support around your intended focus. In order for Social Entrepreneur Corps (our sister organization where are work benefits CE Solutions and all earnings support CE Solutions) participants to learn how local people live and work, we place them with home stay families. These families are paid and earn a profit. In 2016, we place 187 participants in 168 homes. Families netted in excess of $60,000. This empowers families to pay for food, healthcare, education....whatever they choose to prioritize. But why not leverage this even more? Now that we have hundreds of families trained within our network in Guatemala, Ecuador, The Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, we have decided to make this its own social enterprise called Certified Homestay. Think of Airbnb for the developing world. The goal is to create opportunities for these families throughout the year generating earnings for them and to additional revenues to be reinvested in the priority work of CE Solutions. Reach out if you have a program in one of the countries where we work and are looking for wonderful families to support your students in a way that supports these families and their communities at the same time.

Turismo Ixil: 15 Years of Jobs and Local Revenues
Over$25,000 in aggregate compensation for 32 people from $150,000  in revenues

Turismo Ixil, starting with El Descanso restaurant, was our first social venture. This was launched waaay back in 2002 and it is still going strong. Over 15 years this has generated over $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. 2016 was in a good way more of the same. 32 people had full or part-time jobs as cooks, waiters, guides, administrators, language teachers, and promoters. The earned over $25,000 in aggregate in a community where the average monthly wage is roughly $250. That’s a lot of burritos! So if you are in Nebaj come on by and support the wonderful people of Turismo Ixil. A portion of revenues gets donated to our other community efforts.

Chiapas , Mexico: A Pilot Launch
Bringing what we've learned to support communities in Southern Mexico

In 2016 long time and amazing team member Luke Burchell moved his family and set up shop in Chiapas, Mexico. Our questions were “Are there needs and wants that we can address in Mexico in the same way that we have done it in other countries?”. And “Can we create social impact with very limited resources?”. The first step as always is to get out to communities and learn and learn and learn. Luke focused on the communities of El Triunfo and El Porvenir. Here are a few things that Luke learned. In one community 70% of families have a family member suffering from diabetes. Up to 60% of families have smoke in their homes from open fires or poorly constructed cook stoves. Over a third of families need eye exams. The average household income ranges between $60 and $80 per month. Unfortunately the needs are there. As an entry point Luke started with vision and 20 individuals from these communities purchased glasses for the first time in their lives. We continue to learn and seek out resources to support this effort. A huge thanks to Luke for doing the hard work necessary to understand community priorities and for building trust by focusing on community-centered needs. Stay tuned for more as we continue to learn.

Ultimiya Consulting:  Spreading Social Innovation
Supporting other organizations in social innovation by leveraging our team's expertise

In 2016 our CE Solution team of professionals launched Ultimiya social innovation consulting. Although we have been providing consulting services since way back in 2003, this is a targeted effort to support other organizations around the world in what very specific focus areas. And all earnings from this effort our reinvested in our leadership to continue the efforts of CE Solutions. We aspire to help organizations in four main areas. First, Ultimiya helps organizations deploy vital technology solutions for vulnerable community members taking what we have learned over the past 15 years. In particular we help organizations start social enterprises for vision, water, solar and cook stoves solutions. Second, we leverage our platform of community relationships and entrepreneurs to help organizations vet, design and market test new technology solutions. Third, we help organizations design and launch their own social innovations. As you note from our accomplishments here, we have pretty deep and broad experience and know how to design for impact. And finally, we provide resources. Over the past 15 years we have generated a massive library of resources. We don’t want these to sit on a shelf. We want these to serve. As examples of our efforts, in 2016 we designed a micro franchise model for outboard motors for IADB and a local company in Suriname. We also advised a local garment factory in rural Mexico on how to launch a sustainable social impact program through a contract with Levi Strauss Foundation. Does your organization or do you know of an organization that is looking for economical social innovation consulting? Reach out. This initiative helps other organizations while providing funding for our own organizational efforts. Everyone wins.