Nonprofit Enterprise & Self Sustainability Team

NESsT develops sustainable social enterprises that solve critical social problems in emerging market economies.
Jun 11, 2012

Moving Forward

NESsT Business Plan Workshop
NESsT Business Plan Workshop

NESsT continues to provide financial, capacity-building, and psychological support to 373 small producers and artisans and their social enterprises in the O´Higgins, Maule and Bio-Bio regions of Chile to help rebuild the lives, livelihoods, and communities most affected by the 2010 earthquake and tsunami.  Through a Social Enterprise Competition, NESsT selected six civil society organizations (CSOs) to receive continued NESsT support to further develop their social enterprise ideas. The CSOs were selected based on their management capacity, experience, and commitment to support the recovery by affected communities and the improvement of their short-term incomes.   

Apiunisexta, located in San Fernando, is the largest Beekeepeers´ Association in the country that promotes the economic and social development of its members through grants to invest in stock, materials, and production tools.

Las Nieves Cooperative is an agricultural cooperative located in Paredones that produces quinoa, and promotes the economic and social development of its members through leveraging bulk quantities to obtain higher sales prices.

ONG Surmaule is a non-profit organization based in Talca that provides low income communities in the region with training and advocacy for their sustainable economic development, while being respectful of their traditions and culture.

Ludovico Rutten Foundation is a foundation based in Talca that provides educational and work opportunities to help people develop social and work skills that will assist them to get out of poverty.

CET SUR is a non-profit organization based in Tome that provides educational and economic opportunities for entrepreneurs, and conducts research that aids the development of the region and local markets, and the increased appreciation of local traditions.

Levantando Chile’s ultimate goal is for its beneficiaries to become completely self-sustaining as quickly as possible: living, working, and selling their products as they did before the earthquake and tsunami struck.  Since February, NESsT has provided the following:

Financial support: NESsT provided small grants averaging US$300 to beneficiaries to help recover lost stock and raw materials, or to purchase or repair tools that were destroyed or damaged by the 2010 earthquake.

Capacity-Building support: NESsT held a series of business administration workshops to teach producers and artisans about best practices in business development. Workshop topics included identifying and controlling costs, break-even point, supply-and-demand, and accounting systems. 

Additionally, NESsT hired 15 consultants to provide beneficiaries one-on-one support to help them improve their commercialization systems and build partnerships, enabling them to improve their businesses and earn better incomes for themselves and their families.  Consultants build upon the business administration tools provided in the workshops held by NESsT, and ensure that these concepts are applied to strengthen these social enterprises.    

Psychological support: NESsT also hired experts to provide psychological support, working to help beneficiaries deal with loss, build their confidence and entrepreneurial spirit, and to extend their support networks. The difficulties faced by producers and artisans are related to their current economic situation, or due to the unresolved loss of loved ones.

Psychological Support
Psychological Support


Mar 8, 2012

2011 2nd Social Enterprise Competition

Earthquake Survivors
Earthquake Survivors

Levantando Chile Update (November 2011 – January 2012)

In October, NESsT launched a 2nd Social Enterprise Competition in the O’Higgins, Maule and Bio-Bio regions, which are some of the areas most affected by the 2010 earthquake. The competition is open to organizations with a strong social mission that work to solve important social problems in the these regions, that have a strong connection with local producers, and that want to develop a social enterprise to support them and increase their income streams.

All ten organizations were invited to begin a one-year evaluation process where NESsT is helping them analyze their business ideas through a pre-feasibility and feasibility study.  At the end of the process, organizations will produce a business plan, which NESsT will evaluate followed by selecting the three best business plans.  The winning organizations will receive US$10,000 to implement their business ideas and will enter the NESsT portfolio to continue receiving capacity support to implement their business plans, for the next 1-4 years. The ten organizations currently participating in the competition are:

1. Cooperative Campesinas Las Nieves Ltda.  
Social Enterprise: Production and commercialization of quinoa

2. Fundacion para el Desarrollo Campesino
Social Enterprise: Commercialization of honey

3. Fundacion para el Desarrollo del Bio Bio
Social Enterprise: Production and commercialization of honey

4. Organización No Gubernamental de Desarrollo Centro de Educacion Tecnologica para el Desarrollo del Sur (ONG CET SUR)
Social Enterprise: Consulting and training services

5. Asociacion Gremial por el Bosque Nativo de Nuble
Social Enterprise: Commercialization of certified firewood

6. Fundacion Ludovico Rutten
Social Enterprise: Career-skills training workshop

7. ONG SurMaule
Social Enterprise: To construct a just and inclusive democratic society through training, research and community interventions

Social Enterprise:  Development of sustainable beekeeping.

9. Agrupacion Cultural y Artesanos de Canete
Social Enterprise: Commercialization of crafts

Social Enterprise: Production and commercialization of wooden crafts and products

Next Steps:

-        March: NESsT provides feedback on organizational readiness of each participant and invites select organizations to develop pre-feasibility studies

-        April: NESsT evaluates pre-feasibility studies and invites select organizations to develop feasibility studies

-        July/August: Feasibility studies are evaluated by NESsT and our Business Advisory Network members

-        September: NESsT invites select organizations to develop their business plan

-        November: NESsT selects three best business plans

Manos del Bio Bio crafts
Manos del Bio Bio crafts


Nov 17, 2011

Understanding the Needs of Our Beneficiaries

Beautifully hand-crafted blankets - Relmu Witral
Beautifully hand-crafted blankets - Relmu Witral

Levantando Chile Update (August-October, 2011)

After launching a social enterprise competition in March, NESsT selected six winning organizations to channel funds, knowledge and hope to local producers, artisans and microentrepreneurs whose livelihoods were affected by the 2010 earthquake. NESsT designed tailor-made interventions to support our beneficiaries in the different contexts where they live and work.

To do this, NESsT conducted research to gather relevant information about our beneficiaries in addition to the conditions in which they lived before and after the earthquake. A few important and interesting statistics about the people whose livelihoods NESsT supports includes:


  • NESsT is supporting a total of 373 people in the O’Higgins, Maule and Bio-Bio regions of Chile.
  • 235 are women (67%) and 138 (37%) are men.
  • The average age of our beneficiaries is 49 years-old.

Income and Livelihoods

  • 53% of our beneficiaries have an average monthly income below the Chilean minimum monthly wage of US$364.70
  • 47% of our beneficiaries employ other people through their work. Of these, 66% employ family members for specific tasks (as opposed to long-term work).

There is great diversity in the livelihoods of our beneficiaries. Although their jobs range in number, they can be grouped in 6 broad areas:

  • Craftsmanship: microentrepreneurs in this group produce different products (jewelry, clothing, decorative items etc.), mainly in materials such as wool, leather, wood, ceramic and fabric.
  • Gastronomy and food: microentrepreneurs in this group produce foods (from traditional Chilean fast food to traditional indigenous Mapuche food); work in bakeries or produce, jams and preserves.
  • Agriculture and animal farming: microentrepreneurs in this group raise domestic animals, grow vegetables and flowers for sale.
  • Tourism: microentrepreneurs in this group rent cabins; run hostels or work in the agritourism field.
  • Beekeeping: microentrepreneurs in this group keep bees to sell honey or byproducts of pollen.
  • Small Business: microentrepreneurs in this group mainly sell clothing, shoes, fruit, vegetables, crafts and used books.

Earthquake Damage, Effects on their Livelihoods and Current Needs

  • 41% of our beneficiaries state that their current working conditions are not appropriate to increase production. 34% state that they are partially appropriate. This emphasizes the importance of providing start-up capital and raw materials in order to help them increase their production and sales.
  • 56% of beneficiaries indicated a decrease in income after the earthquake.
  • 91% of beneficiaries state that the earthquake damaged essential infrastructure in their small businesses.
  • 98% of the beneficiaries requested financial support to recover tools and infrastructure.
  • 91% of the beneficiaries consider that the earthquake affected them emotionally. Of these, 65% still feel affected by the earthquake.

Action Plans

Upon the completion of the baseline study, NESsT and its regional partners in Chile analyzed producer needs to design tailor-made action plans that addressed their main needs to help to recover and increase their income levels in the long-term. These action plans will provide our beneficiaries with a package of support activities that include individual financial support, workshops to provide business administration knowledge, access to consulting services and psychological support.  Action plan activities are expected to be finished by April 2012.

Current activities that NESsT is carrying out to support our 373 beneficiaries also include:

  • NESsT and CET, our partner organization from Yumbel, Chile, are sponsoring the First National Community Tourism Conference in Chile, a fair with the purpose to strengthen business, knowledge and commercialization networks that are essential to community tourism enterprises in Chile.
  • NESsT recently partnered with the University of Chile, where Business students will conduct research to help us assess what areas of investment have a greater return in terms of social impact.
  • In October, NESsT launched a 2nd Social Enterprise Competition specifically for civil society organizations in the O’Higgins, Maule and Bio-Bio regions. NESsT is seeking to work with organizations that have a strong connection with local producers and that want to develop a social enterprise to support them and increase their income streams.
  • NESsT continues to recruit experienced business professionals from the affected regions to our Business Advisory Network (BAN). The BAN is a select group of business professionals stemming from the investment community, government organizations and independent businesses that donate their financial, intellectual and social capital to help our portfolio organizations and beneficiaries.

Vibrant work from Trabajo Para Un Hermano
Vibrant work from Trabajo Para Un Hermano