Over the last few months, Levantando Chile team members Ignacio Blanco (Coordinator) and Felipe Cordero (Project Assistant) surveyed the regions of Chile most affected by the February 2010 earthquake; O'Higgins, Maule and BioBio; to identify the needs of existing organizations. They met with government and civil society leaders to spread the word about Levantando Chile, as well as to identify organizations with the greatest potential for impact that would be good candidates to participate in a NESsT Social Enterprise Competition in Chile and invite them to apply to the competition.
In March 2011, NESsT sponsored a Social Enterprise competition geared towards civil society organizations that work directly with local producers in the three regions most affected by the earthquake. Twenty-eight (28) organizations applied. Although the selection process was not easy, the selection board at the NESsT Santiago office selected six winning organizations. These organizations were selected based on their potential for impact and their methodology, commitment and experience working in the affected areas.
Over the next ten months, NESsT will provide financial and entrepreneurial support to these six organizations and their producer members affected by the earthquake to improve their income streams and quality of life. Every beneficiary is different and works in a different field, but among them are farmers, beekeepers, micro entrepreneurs, artisans and craftspeople:
APIUNISEXTASan Fernando, O’Higgins Regionwww.apiunisexta.cl
Mission: To make beekeeping sustainable, competitive and efficient through collective solutions benefiting each of the bee keepers who are members of the organization. APIUNISEXTA’s work is focused on improving productivity and competitiveness of its partners, allowing to expand markets and improve bargaining power, through access to market information and business opportunities.
Mission: To support and promote environmentally conscious practices that contribute to improving the environment and the quality of life of the surrounding community. The program will reach farmers, salt gatherers, artisans, and other beneficiaries from the Cardenal Caro Province.
Education and Technology Center (CET)Yumbel, Chilewww.corporacioncet.cl
Mission: To advance knowledge in Ecoagriculture and environmental sustainability to help residents in the poorest rural and urban areas to increase their quality of life, in terms of food security and the improvement of their family and community environment. The program will reach beekeepers, farmers, artisans, rural tourism entrepreneurs, and other beneficiaries in and around the rural towns of Yumbel, San Carlos, Contulmo and Niquen.
Trabajo para un Hermano ConcepciónConcepción, Chilewww.tphconcepcion.com
Mission: To facilitate meaningful educational opportunities for communities and staff members to contribute towards a more just society and create employment, economic and social leadership opportunities. The program will reach artisans from Concepción, Talcahuano, Penco, Tome and Dichato.
Mission: To contribute towards building a more inclusive Chilean society that does not inhibit personal and community development, nor that arbitrarily discriminates based on social motives, culture, ethnicity, religion, political views, sexual orientation, gender, age, health, physical or mental disabilities. The program will reach beneficiaries from different areas in and around Coronel, Lota and San Pedro.
SurMauleTalca, Maule Regionwww.surmaule.cl
Mission: To work with other entities to construct a just and inclusive democratic society in the Maule Region, especially through training, research and community interventions. The program will reach small shop owners in Talca’s historic Central Market that have had trouble re-establishing their livelihoods after the earthquake.
A year after the devastating earthquake, NESsT’s Levantando Chile continues to support social enterprises that enable local entrepreneurs to not only rebuild but to improve their livelihoods
The 8.8-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami that hit Chile one year ago today left many local artisans and producers in a dire situation. In the southern coast, where the effects were most severe, entire fishing villages and towns were wiped out. Local producers saw their small enterprises literally crumble to the ground. While international aid agencies have long since departed and public attention has shifted to other global emergencies, rebuilding the lives of local producers continues apace in Chile.
Today some of those devastated local entrepreneurs have not only rebuilt their homes and businesses but have increased their incomes above pre-earthquake levels, thanks in part to the relentless efforts of NESsT’s Levantando Chile Fund to support sustainable social enterprises in the community. “What started as an emergency response -- rebuilding homes and helping local producers regain their pre-earthquake income -- has shifted to helping them to increase their income and improve their livelihoods overall,” says Chilean-born NESsT co-founder and CEO, Nicole Etchart. “Returning to the status quo isn’t good enough. Social enterprise has allowed us to turn a horrible crisis into an opportunity to design an entirely new reality, a better life. For Chileans to return to monthly household incomes of less than $500 is not acceptable.” To date, NESsT has leveraged over US$1 million for Levantando Chile from donors in over 20 countries around the world.
Rebuilding homes - emergency family housing
The first funds raised for Levantando Chile, through an event held in New York with Puro Chile, were given to Chile Ayuda a Chile as part of Fundación Teletón, helping to build 30,000 emergency homes in the areas most affected by the earthquake. NESsT then joined forces with Wines of Chile (WoC), the promotional arm of Vinos de Chile, the Chilean wine industry trade association committed to promoting Chilean wines around the world. Together with WoC in Chile, the United Kingdom and the United States, NESsT has raised funds from wine industry sources to assist families living in Chile's wine regions devastated by the earthquake. With support from Levantando Chile, over 20 houses were built by Habitat for Humanity Chile enabling vineyard workers to rebuild their homes and resume their work. Levantando Chile has made a further significant donation to Fundación CasaBásica for the development of additional housing to be donated to families living in Chile's most damaged wine regions.
Through Levantando Chile, NESsT has provided financial, technical and psychological support to hundreds of local producers in the most affected areas. One such story is of the support provided to local entrepreneurs through Relmu Witral (“Rainbow Loom”), an association of 150 indigenous women that produces hand-woven textiles using traditional Mapuche techniques. The earthquake and tsunami completely paralyzed Relmu Witral’s production and sales. Their shop was devastated along with precious woven products, stocks, records, equipment, and most tools. With support from NESsT, Relmu Witral first repaired the storefront and production workshop, allowing production and sales to resume. The immediate result: a doubling in the number of customers and a resumption of sales and income. At their request, the women also received emotional support from psychologists to help them deal with the fears, loss and stress of the more than 300 aftershocks. This support allowed the weavers to refocus their energies, resume their weaving, and also strengthened the group’s sense of teamwork and community. With consulting from NESsT, Relmu Witral also evaluated its business strategy to improve its cost structure and develop revised financial projections. To open up distribution channels, new contacts were made with fair trade stores. An updated marketing plan and website is helping to boost sales by targeting new clients at national and international product fairs and shows.
This new model of comprehensive post-catastrophe social enterprise redevelopment “helped us get back on our feet,” says Angélica Pérez Pirquimán, President of Relmu Witral. The social enterprise model was innovative but simple. “Tents and immediate relief aid are critical for the short-term well-being of a community after a natural tragedy. But the true foundations for rebuilding and improving livelihoods come with enabling local producers that have been temporarily shut out of the market to find a better way back in. Social enterprise is a powerful and effective way to do that,” says Etchart, “I’m not just saying that, we’re doing it.”
As we welcome in a new year, we wanted to take a moment to update you on the progress NESsT has made through our Levantando Chile Fund to support the fragile communities ravaged by the 8.8 magnitude earthquake nearly a year ago.
Immediately after the February 2010 earthquake and tsunami in Chile, NESsT mobilized to address emergency housing needs and to recover the income streams for low-income producers in the affected areas. Over 700 people were killed, 500,000 homes sustained considerable damage, and nearly 2 million people were displaced. NESsT’s local presence and capacity allowed us to respond rapidly to this emergency situation. Our longstanding experience of working with civil society organizations in Chile since 1999, and particularly with those in the affected areas, allowed us to quickly assess the priority needs and expedite the process of delivering financial and other support.
In early March, NESsT established the Levantando Chile Fund to channel resources to local nonprofit, civil society organizations benefiting those communities that were most affected by the earthquake and tsunami. NESsT has leveraged over US$1 million for Levantando Chile from donors in over 20 countries around the world. The outpouring of support from people like you, reminded us that we were not alone in these difficult times and allowed us to respond quickly with resources and concrete actions:
1. Rebuilding homes - emergency family housing: The first funds raised for Levantando Chile through an event in New York with Puro Chile were given to Chile Ayuda a Chile as part of Fundación Teletón, helping to build 30,000 emergency homes in the areas most affected by the earthquake.
NESsT then joined forces with Wines of Chile (WoC), the promotional arm of Vinos de Chile, the Chilean wine industry trade association committed to promoting Chilean wines around the world. Together with WoC in Chile, the United Kingdom and the United States, NESsT has raised funds from over 10 wine industry sources to assist families living in Chile’s wine regions devastated by the earthquake. With support from Levantando Chile, 20 houses are being built by Habitat for Humanity Chile enabling vineyard workers to rebuild their homes and resume their daily lives. Levantando Chile has made a further significant donation to Fundación CasaBásica for the development of additional housing to be donated to families living in Chile’s wine regions that were most damaged by the earthquake.
2. Rebuilding lives & livelihoods - supporting micro entrepreneurs
Following the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, NESsT quickly shifted the focus of Levantando Chile to supporting long-term efforts of rebuilding the lives and livelihoods of families in the devastated communities. We are proud to report that to date, NESsT has provided financial, technical and psychological support to hundreds of micro entrepreneurs in the most affected areas in Chile, so that they could safely resume their productive activities. In particular, NESsT has supported two local organizations, Relmu Witral in Tirua and Trabajo para un Hermano in Concepcion that are actively supporting these entrepreneurs.
None of this would have been possible without your generous support. But our work is not complete. As we continue on the long road to rebuild Chile, we hope you will consider supporting Levantando Chile again in 2011, as well as the important work of NESsT to develop social enterprises addressing critical social problems across Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe.
Thank you for your support!