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NESsT Partners Spotlight: Guilherme Fernandes

2017. május 22. 22:57

Guilherme Fernandes has contributed to NESsT Brazil’s financial and strategic growth. As CEO of Ashmore Brazil, he spearheaded his company’s role as a financial and capacity-building ally for many years. Guilherme was involved in selecting enterprises for our portfolio, providing finance mentoring to Retalhar, and delivering workshops to the LGBT portfolio in 2014.

A heartfelt thanks to Guilherme for sharing your passion, expertise and kindness with NESsT Brazil!  We asked him what inspired him to become a champion for NESsT.

 

Why did you first become involved with NESsT? 

Guilherme Fernandes: I worked for Ashmore Group and the Ashmore Foundation as a sponsor for NESsT in Brazil. They introduced me to the social venture fund idea and I was firstly intrigued by it. Once I met the NESsT team and their ideas and methodology I decided to become a Business Advisory Network (BAN) member right on the spot!

What does NESsT’s mission mean to you?

GF: It means a lot, since it targets employment and generating wealth for those who need is, in my opinion, an extremely important need most emerging economies have. It easily differentiate from the traditional philanthropy and shows the importance of developing local social entrepreneurs and their impact in our society.

How has working with NESsT influenced your life?

GF: It had a deep influence as on a personal side it fulfilled a long desire I had to help change and impact life of several people and organizations. I’ve learned a lot with local entrepreneurs and leaders of communities, they are all incredible people that dedicate a great part of their life to help others.

It certainly helped me view the world from a different angle, which had an impact in personal and professional life.

What interests you most about NESsT? 

GF: The fact that NESsT helps other to develop, provide the tools for their own growth and doesn’t just give money or awards. From my perspective a workshop or knowledge sharing is more important than just giving a grant (money).

How does NESsT compare to other organizations working on this cause?

GF: NESsT as an international organization, has the advantage of exchanging experiences and knowledge amongst its offices and this provide a great advantage for entrepreneurs since challenges are similar worldwide.

How do you describe NESsT to others?

GF: I often say NESsT is an organization that helps social entrepreneurs achieve their goals. I emphasize that the most important part is about knowledge and skills and not about the money. That Nesst work with a network of people with different background which provides an advantage as one have different views for the same problem.

 Interested in joining NESsT Partners? Join now. 

Kiva lenders raise $25,000 for Cafe Compadre in 72 hours!

2017. május 19. 20:35

Cafe Compadre’s $25,000 loan was funded in under 72 hours! Thanks to the 766 Kiva lenders for becoming part of Compadre’s mission to improve incomes for coffee farmers through solar tech!

The Coffee Industry 

Buying and selling green coffee beans in bulk from small-scale farmers is the norm. Small-scale coffee farmers are not only unable to access the added value of their product, but they’re also unable to consider how they can improve the quality of their coffee from start to end of the supply chain because they’re cut out from the process.

The only way to access increased income is through greater production of the product. This creates a vicious cycle where their low pay, increased coffee production (of a product that may not be at its highest potential), and environmental strain perpetuate poverty.

Cafe Compadre reverses this cycle by helping the farmers produce better quality coffee to generate higher income for their families. Through the feedback and training provided by Compadre, farmers can focus on quality over quantity and improve their livelihoods.

The Team 

Over the past 20 years, NESsT has trained 14,000 entrepreneurs in over 55 countries and we’ve learned that what propels a great concept forward is the person.

The founders, Juan Pablo, Pepe, Fiorella, and Francois have diverse backgrounds and experiences living with communities in the jungle area. They met as part of the Rural Sector Support Group at their university where they were applying their education to develop machinery and improve the lives of communities in the jungle and highlands of Peru.

This is a diverse team: Juan Pablo and Pepe are mechanical engineers, Fiorella is a sociologist and the fourth co-founder, François, is an alternative energy engineer. By joining the NESsT portfolio, Compadre has been able to expand their sales strategy, develop a financial management system, and strengthen its governance structure and operations.

The team continues to be involved in the Rural Sector Support Group applying their engineering and design skills to further achieve community goals in areas outside of coffee production, such as designing more versatile classrooms for small kids and supporting classmates in using solar energy to dry tea.

While working at the research facilities in Cusco, they got to know the coffee farmers in the area (additional to the communities in Satipo, Junin). When demand for their coffee increased, they started sourcing from Cusco. Now, local coffee farmers are asking to work with Compadre consistently.

This is a sincere and dedicated team that truly cares about the objectives that they’re pursuing. It shows in the way they share their knowledge on organic and responsible farming to promote care of the jungle.

Impact on Communities

Building relationships based on respect and trust is at the core of expanding livelihood opportunities for diverse communities.

As an early adopter of the solar-powered coffee roaster provided by Café Compadre, Cristóbal became a role model for other coffee farmers. Based on this relationship, Café Compadre has  been able to incorporate other farmers who know Cristóbal into the enterprise’s supply chain.

Meeting Cristóbal proved fundamental as it led to the adaptation of the technology and business model to meet the real needs of coffee farmers, and ultimately to market demand. Through Cristobal, 10 additional farmers were trained in roasting coffee. Compadre trains farmers on details such as the right heating curve at which to roast their coffee. 

Certified testers approve the coffee that will be sold by Compadre, and those that are not approved are given feedback on how to improve their coffee to be able to access higher income. 

Marcelina was the third person to match the requirements and practices.

Upgrading the Coffee Plant

Cafe Compadre has garnered the support of tech company Autodesk who has provided access to free software to upgrade their solar-powered coffee roaster. The current model involves smaller roasters. By upgrading their model, they will be able to scale their production 5X (from 5 tons to 25 per year).

At first the idea was to sell the solar roaster, but it was more costly for each farmer. The uncertainty of each season’s productions made it a risky investment for them and so the solar-powered roasters were stationed on their land for any coffee farmer to be able to roast their coffee beans. Cristóbal has a contract with Compadre for the solar-powered roaster to be positioned on his land because he wants to enable this opportunity for as many colleagues as possible.

Follow their movement to use clean energy to improve livelihoods and fight environmental pollution.

 

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Follow on Instagram: @cafe.compadre

 

 

Sustainable Fishery Trade: Building Partnerships in the Bay Area

2017. május 18. 18:47

Simone Pisu from Sustainable Fishery Trade (SFT), an enterprise that connects small-scale fishing families directly to the market, spent two weeks meeting with important sector leaders in San Francisco.

SFT is currently in due diligence as a candidate to enter the NESsT portfolio. Our portfolio team uses a hands-on approach, planning with each social enterprise to create the strongest case for investment possible. This process supports enterprises to develop sales and marketing plans, to shape their business models and corporate governance structures, refine their operations and establish key partnerships.

Simone’s trip began with a private reception where he had the opportunity to share his experience as a social entrepreneur in Latin America with 30 corporate and foundation leaders. The rest of the trip focused on building partnerships with successful technology companies in the Bay Area.

Box connected specialists in front end development, web app and product design and offered pro-bono support to SFT to refine their communication strategy. Special thanks to Director of Engineering, Sumathi Swaminathan, Sr. Web Developer, Eugen Taracila, and Product Designer, Lu Liu for partnering with Sustainable Fisheries Trade!

As part of Accenture’s Skills to Succeed program, Accenture consultants co-hosted a live virtual training with NESsT for social entrepreneurs in Latin America focusing on three topics: recruiting a strong team, pitching, and deal negotiation. Simone joined the Accenture team at their office and was able to received specialized advice throughout the day.

Symantec also hosted an all-day workshop for where Vineet Sood, Principal Software Engineer, and Kristyn Greenwood, UX Manager, helped Simone lay out SFT’s entire user experience interface for two applications – one for small-scale fishers and the other for restaurants. This workshop has provided the foundation for SFT’s upcoming project with Startup 5G Peru where they will finalize their mobile applications.

And his meetings with the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Seafood Watch from the Monterey Bay Aquarium have led to two international conference invitations that will allow him to strengthen their positionality within the sector.

Pictured: Simone and Simone Jones from Seafood Watch after their meeting discussing artisanal fishing in Latin America.

We believe that by connecting entrepreneurs like Simone directly to institutional partners in the due diligence process, NESsT is able to strengthen enterprises and build a stronger portfolio.

We asked Simone about his experience.

How have you been able to improve your business as a result of this trip?

We finally landed on the business model and can describe it in one sentence. We also have a better understanding of how our technology supports our business. Above all, I would say that we are on a good path and understand what can be improved.

After being able to speak with many leaders of the sector, what would you say is SFT’s added value to the sector?

We are pioneers in Peru for using an approach that introduces technology into the artisanal fishing sector. This is in line with the direction that philanthropic foundations and investors are taking. We have knowledge of the territory and the artisanal fishing sector in Peru, which presents problems that are also common  in other places where the model could be replicated.

How did you feel when you were in San Francisco?

It was a new and exciting experiment. It is a very inspiring and motivating environment with many opportunities. At the same time it is orderly and quiet so that the head is clear of other problems.

How have you grown personally?

Every new experience is a challenge. Leaving the comfort zone helps you to test your skills to understand limits and new horizons and learn how to overcome them. This process highlights your strengths and also reveals weak points to be improved.

 

Reflecting on 20 Years of Impact

2017. május 15. 22:27

By Nicole Etchart, Co- Founder and Co-CEO, May 11, 2017

NESsT enterprises invest in communities where poverty is accepted as a perpetual reality: communities that live in vulnerable environments — often secluded — that face discrimination and who simply have not been given an opportunity in life.

Until a few years ago, Mari, an indigenous woman and mother from the Curimarca community, subsisted on the sale of potatoes. This seasonal business keeps her community living below the poverty line, like so many in Peru. Today, Mari is a moss supplier for Inka Moss, a NESsT enterprise that sells this product to the Asian and U.Ss markets for orchid cultivation and water filtration, and as a result, pays her a fair price for the product.

NESsT invests in enterprises that empower individuals with the skills, resources and opportunities to break the cycle of poverty. We turned to social entrepreneurship 20 years ago before most knew it existed. More importantly, we have stuck to it, albeit always trying to do it better and for greater impact.

How Exactly Did NESsT Start?

As tensions rose with the fall of the Berlin Wall, NESsT Co-Founder Lee Davis and I were concerned about international donors leaving the region. This endangered civil society organizations and their opportunity to solve issues of poverty and exclusion, and to strengthen democracy in these countries.

Time and time again, impactful organizations were hampered by their grant dependency.

From the very beginning, we realized the power of social enterprises to make significant and sustainable change. NESsT would exist to address the paradigm that dominated the social sector at that time – that of short-term and project-based grant funding. We sought to help organizations gain access to tools and capital to start sustainable businesses.

I believe that we are pioneers because of five major milestones that have now become mainstream in our sector.

Launch of Our First Business Plan Competition (2000)

This was THE accelerator program of the time in these two regions. It offered nonprofit leaders the skills needed to develop a business plan and manage a business.

NESsT went on to launch at least 50 of these competitions in all 11 countries of Latin America and Central Europe where NESsT manages a portfolio.

We did them in conjunction with the major financial institutions and private equity funds in the two regions.

Today, there are hundreds of accelerators helping social enterprises get off the ground, and all of these banks have created impact-investing arms.

Launch of NESsT Consulting (2004)

We needed to practice what we preached and generate our own revenues.  We expanded our impact and brought our social and environmental impact strategies to corporations, foundations and development agencies.

Since that date, NESsT has worked with over 200 clients in 50 countries.

Petrom (the largest oil and gas company in Romania), Minera Escondida (a key mining company in Chile), Nike, USAID, IDB, CAF, Unicef, EBRD, the European Commission, Rockefeller, Packard, Open Society Foundations, Inter-American Foundation, have all contracted us to work with their partners and grantees.

In the case of Nike, we were excited to support a social enterprise in Kenya that brought a papyrus sanitary napkin to the market that would allow young African women to play sports. Loic, now NESsT Co-CEO, started his trajectory with NESsT as our Consulting Director. In that role, he flew to 30 countries in six years and applied for a new passport every two.

Today, the concept of shared value, sustainability and corporate social responsibility have become household words for many.

First Patient Capital Loan Disbursed (2008)

The loan went to Kek Madar in Central Europe that would be used to refurbish a building and expand a restaurant and catering business employing people with disabilities. Eight years later, the enterprise finished paying back its loan, as it sets out to replicate the restaurant, now a highly recognized model, in two new locations.

Since then, NESsT has invested over $14 million in social enterprises, about $1 million in loan capital and is creating its first loan fund.

Now the need for early stage capital is recognized as a sector-wide challenge and more philanthropic capital providers are starting to get onboard. 

NESsT Began Working with For-Profit Social Enterprises and with Technology-Driven Ones (2008)

In Peru we supported rural-based inventors, and currently we run NESsT Innova. Last year alone, these technologies improved access to dry toilets, potable water, renewable energy and improved production processes for 10,000 people.

Our partnership with Kiva engages thousands of lenders to provide loans to these technology companies. Kiva lenders have funded a total of $135,000 in loans to Upasol, Suritex and Inka Moss.

This week, Cafe Compadre is seeking a $25,000 loan to help build a solar-powered coffee roasting plant in Cusco and cover operating expenses to help 40 local farmers increase their income by 70%.

Throughout the Years…

NESsT has been committed to sharing best practices, publishing numerous case studies (more than 100), guides, research studies, books and tools, disseminating them to colleagues and entrepreneurs throughout the world.

All in the Same Boat was translated into 12 languages and went through three print runs — 15,000 copies were disseminated to aspiring philanthropists.

Our research and practice work, has had a direct impact on policy. This has enabled NESsT to draw stakeholders — from deeply immersed to merely curious — to events designed to mobilize the sector.

 Social Enterprise Day has become an annual event for social entrepreneurship in Europe attracting hundreds. (2007)

The Social Enterprise World Forum was the first and continues to be the largest event held on impact investing in Latin America. (2012)

This momentum building globally has paved the demand for tools like NESsT’s Idea2Entrepreneur Platform. It captures the dignity of jobs by measuring qualitative indicators such as social enterprise income, job security and satisfaction, and is on track to reach hundreds of thousands entrepreneurs.

We Would Never Pretend to Have Done This Alone 


The NESsT family is a network of fearless explorers who never knew the route, but paved it instead.

This is why NESsT is consistently invited to provide policy input. Today, we’re spearheading two Social Investment Task Forces in Peru and in Central Europe to foster more capital for early stage enterprises. Our Regional Director Rox, recently turned down a job offer to be Labor Minister for Romania. She chose NESsT!

And, if it weren’t for the hundreds of individuals and organizations who believed in us and supported our uncommon idea and its fruition along the way, we wouldn’t have gotten most of this done. Now that more and more people are familiar with social entrepreneurship, we’re able to deepen our work with enterprises.

NESsT Global Impact to Date

However, our biggest accomplishment is what none of these numbers can truly reflect. It’s the impact that NESsT has on the lives of people most in need. This is the true reason why NESsT exist. We did what we set out to do from the start.

For Tomasz, a young man who until recently spent his entire day in a mental health institution is today fully employed as a care provider by the Polish social enterprise Siedlisko, who runs a center for the elderly and chronically ill. To see Tomasz’ face light up as he works with the residents of the Center is to see dignity at work.

What’s Next?

To reach 50,000 more people in the next five years, NESsT will invest in 40 enterprises that are beyond start-up but not yet scaling. This is the missing middle, where innovation aimed at making significant and long-lasting change really happens and where we can make the greatest contribution. We will launch our $15 million dollar loan fund to provide patient capital to companies generating dignified jobs for people most in need.

Become Part of This New Paradigm

Get involved to support companies that bring dignity to the forgotten and create a healthier and more sustainable planet. We really can’t do it without you.

 

Four days in Warsaw: A leap for social enterprises and the people they serve

2017. április 11. 00:22

By Nicole Etchart, Co-Founder and Co-CEO , April 10, 2017  

Last week I spent an incredible four days in Warsaw.  Its not often when I feel that every day of the week represented one leap forward in developing a thriving social enterprise sector in the region.

Launching the Task Force

On days one and two, I had the honor of working with 20 leaders from the region in identifying the objectives and platform of the newly launched Central and Southern European Social Investment Task Force. The Task Force aims to bring greater and better capital to create greater and better investment-ready socially driven enterprises.   NESsT presented the idea for a task force at the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA) annual conference in Paris last November. EVPA embraced it and has been working with us to develop the Task Force for the region, sponsoring the official launch meeting in Warsaw.  As the group gathered in Warsaw to discuss priorities, we arrived at a shared vision for a two-year strategy including:

  1. The mapping of key stakeholders and activities in the sector so that we can build on successes and fill in the gaps
  2. An impact report to be launched next year that provides the baseline on the scope of the industry and stories of what is already happening
  3. Co-investments among the small group of investors in the region and an agreement to work with funders and investors, including the European Commission, on how to create more and better financial instruments and tailored capacity support for enterprises
  4. Sharing of knowledge and best practices with the Global Steering Group whose mandate is to help strengthen the global movement and ensure that we are building on each other’s experiences.

At the meeting, we were joined by Sebastian Welisiejko and Jane Newman of the GSG, who helped to facilitate the discussions and provided their experience in helping to develop other Task Forces around the globe. In addition to EVPA and NESsT, the organizations present included: Yunus Social Business, Erste Social Banking, Impact HUB (Vienna and Zagreb), CEED Macedonia, Mozaic, the European Commission, TISE, Bcause Bulgaria, GSEN, Dokikino Serbia, and the Academy for Philanthropy Development (our generous hosts).

 

Site Visit to Siedlikso

On day three, I had the pleasure of traveling with my colleagues to visit one of the enterprises in our portfolio located in Kolonowskie, three hours south of Warsaw.  Siedlisko runs a nursing home for the elderly and chronically ill that is staffed by 30 young people with disabilities as well as the long-term unemployed.  As we walked through the remodeled and energy-friendly building, we witnessed some incredible scenes of young people as they assisted and interacted with the center’s elderly. These youth have lived in institutions all of their lives with little hope of ever attaining any kind of work. The pride they expressed as they fulfilled their responsibilities spoke millions.   We saw them helping to lift the residents from their beds and preparing them for the noontime meal.  Others were making sure that their rooms were clean and comfortable.  Those who work in the enterprise´s catering side, which uses the kitchen´s idle time to sell healthy meals to the surrounding hospitals and schools, proudly washed and peeled vegetables and cleaned and organized the kitchen facility for the next round of meals.

The dynamo entrepreneurial team that founded Siedlisko, Teresa Truch and Joanna Pietrzela, explained that the employees were fast learners quickly able to assume more complicated tasks and levels of outputs. Teresa was happy to tell us that the enterprise had reached break-even this quarter and is repaying its outstanding and recently refinanced Tise loans that it incurred for the purchase and renovation of the building. The loans are friendlier with longer repayment periods and lower interest rates. This comes two years after they entered our portfolio and were launched with NEST’s investment.

 

Siedlisko founders: Joanna oversees the catering business and Teresa manages the elderly care services.

Now that it has reached a more stable situation, the enterprise is planning to expand the center´s infrastructure in order to add a common room for the residents as well as five additional beds for nursing home residents.  They will also launch a service to provide weekend in-house care for the elderly in the area to supplement the weekly service provided by the government.  This will allow the enterprise to extend its services without having to invest in additional infrastructure.  Once these investments are completed Siedlisko will employ 50 at-risk individuals.  The employees of the Center make what is considered a dignified wage for Poland, enough to live independently.  They often prefer to stay at Siedlisko after they have completed their workday, where the environment is warm and accepting.  Teresa and Joanna dreams expand beyond that.   In the enterprise´s next phase, Siedlisko is planning to develop affordable housing for the youth so that they can leave the state-run institution, hidden in the forest far from the view of most Poles, to a home they can call their own.

 

Portfolio Roundtable

Day four provided a more systemic view of how to scale and build many more Siedliskos in the country.   We held the third and last in a series of round-tables in Warsaw focusing on NESsT Empowers, a program that focuses on investing and supporting enterprises that prepare at-risk youth and women to work in high-growth industries in the countries where we work.  In Poland, the program has focused on the IT/BPO sector, an industry that is growing very quickly and shows promise of being able to absorb thousands of candidates for entry-level positions in the coming years. The urgency is reflected by the 20% of youth that are unemployed, 18% that are neither employed or in education or training (NEET), and 19% pay inequality between men and women.

NESsT published an in-depth study of the sector including the number of jobs and types of skills that are needed; then selected two high-impact enterprises, Coders Lab and Dimpact, after its conclusion to train and prepare vulnerable individuals. After presenting the study at the round table, we divided into groups where both enterprises had an opportunity to discuss their value-proposition with employers and recruiters and receive feedback on whether they would uptake their trained clients (at-risk women and youth) for employment.

I sat in the group with Coders Lab, Hays (global recruiting firm) and Warsaw Labour Office representative.  In less than an hour, these three organizations provided each other with tremendously pertinent information on how they could help one another.  The social enterprise has a track record of preparing coders for both front-end and back-end jobs and is now incorporating at-risk individuals into their model. More than 80% of those trained by Coders Lab are able to secure employment.   The recruiters confirmed that there is a tremendous need for well-trained candidates and that they recognize the need to work with other providers such as Coders Lab to be able to meet market-demand.  The government representative, who runs trainings for the unemployed, verified that they would be able to provide support to at-risk candidates enrolling in the Coder Lab trainings, plus offer a one-year salary for them to work in different IT/BPO companies.  As each group learned more about the other it became clear that we had a win-win situation and that they were learning about these opportunities for the first time.

 

A similar encounter occurred in the parallel round-table with Dimpact, a social enterprise that offers high quality trainings attuned to the needs of the industry for junior accountants through their upcoming online platform.  Paribas, the employer at the table, confirmed that the industry needs 2,000 junior accountants per year and they believe that companies in Poland would be willing to pay for this. The research had shown that focusing on soft skills and the ability of at-risk youth and women to cope with the work environment was as important, if not more so, then the actual technical skills needed for the job.  The industry confirmed that these entry-level jobs can be learned on the job, and that a willingness to do so was the most important factor of success.

These four days in Warsaw reflected once again what we all should ultimately come to accept.  Through informed and collaborative efforts, we can accelerate the development of high impact enterprises that are extremely well positioned to solve critical challenges of exclusion and unemployment.

Whether focusing on building a movement with a group of peers such as those involved in the Social Investment Task Force, supporting a social enterprise that is working hard to prove its model of sustainable employment for its country’s most vulnerable groups, or gathering a group of industry-focused actors trying to address the skills gaps and high unemployment in the country, the fact is that these efforts are working.

By building the investment industry with leaders in the region there will be more appropriate capital to support investment-ready companies like Siedlisko. By supporting early-stage impact investors like NESsT that are able to identify strong enterprises with potential to grow, the Siedliskos will be strengthened and ready to receive this capital.  And by working with corporations and recruiters, social enterprises like Coders Lab and Dimpact will be better able to train and prepare Poland’s at-risk individuals for career tracks in high-growth industries.  Let’s not waste more time in trying to figure out a solution.  The solutions are there.  We just need to embrace them.

 

Your impact with Inka Moss: a year after the Kiva loan

2017. február 03. 02:33

About a year ago, Kiva lenders propelled Inka Moss to new heights when they clicked “Lend.” Since that time, their loan and the great efforts of the Inka Moss team in partnership with NESsT has enabled Inka Moss to increase their environmental and social impact.

The Kiva lenders’ confidence in Inka Moss in 2015 made it possible for the enterprise to attain the funds necessary to strengthen its business. The Kiva loan increased the potential of Inka Moss so much so that the enterprise sought additional funding not because the Kiva loans were insufficient, but because there was a greater perspective of growth. As a result, NESsT supported Inka Moss in securing an additional $234,000+ in new funding.*

Specifically, the loan improved the product quality and doubled the income of families by making solar-powered technology accessible. By transitioning from drying the moss on tarps to drying beds, one-kilogram moss now sells for $1.70 as opposed to $0.80 paid for moss dried on the ground.

In addition to providing sustainable income, a portion of each bag sold supports community services. So far, these funds have been used for the construction of a new school and the repair of roads leading to the communities.

As more updates become available, we encourage you to learn about how Inka Moss came to be, the key aspects behind their success and the enterprise’s growth potential. Available in our new publication Beyond the Lab: Changing Lives through Hardware Technology. 

* Inka Moss receives financial and capacity-building support from NESsT as a portfolio member.

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