Thank you very much for your generous donation to the Social Enterprise Institute's Capstone field study program. Your donation through Catalyst enabled us students to travel to Nicaragua to further learn about the issues affecting the country and potential solutions for Nicaragua. We recently concluded our class time reviewing funding proposals and are in process of distributing $20,000 worth of funds to social enterprises.
While in Nicaragua over spring break, we visited a number of cooperatives and interviewed entrepreneurs and farmers to study the role that agricultural cooperatives and enterprises can play in lifting smallholder farmers out of poverty. It was an incredibly enriching experience and allowed our class to better understand the area in which we were investing.
Back in Boston, then, we solicited proposals for funding from Nicaragua. Our priority when selecting proposals was those that empowered women, served the poorest of the poor, and had high potential for impact. One of the most impressive proposals was from Chinantlan, a women's juice cooperative in the town of Esteli. While visiting Chinantlan on our trip, we were very impressed with the woman who runs the cooperative. The cooperative also put together an innovative proposal to start a microcredit fund that would enable more women to grow mangos and hibiscus flowers for juice, thus increasing their income. This proposal will receive a portion of our funding.
Two additional proposals that stood out were from rural coffee cooperatives. This was an important funding priority for our class as coffee rust—a fungal disease—is devastating the region's coffee farms. Coffee is the core of many smallholder farmers' income in Nicaragua, and coffee rust holds the potential to push these farmers further into poverty. As such, we are going to invest the remainder of our funds into two coffee cooperatives—Danilo Gonzales and La Hermandad—to fund an irrigation project and microcredit program respectively. With the combination of classroom learning, in-country field experience, and hands-on investments this capstone course is unique and would not be possible without your contributions.
On behalf of all the students in the course and the staff of the Social Enterprise Institute, we would like to extend the greatest of thanks for your commitment to this course. It was an incredible learning experience for the students involved and will have great impact in alleviating rural poverty in Nicaragua.
This semester, as part of the Entrepreneurship Capstone - Advanced Studies in Social Entrepreneurship course, we will travel to Nicaragua to study the role that agricultural cooperatives and enterprises can play in lifting smallholder farmers out of extreme poverty. During this trip, we will examine first-hand how new and innovative methods of financing, technical assistance, and consulting can assist in the growth and sustainability of these organizations.
After visiting a variety of social enterprises, fair trade cooperatives, and environmental organizations in Nicaragua, we will return to Northeastern to develop a strategy to socially invest upwards of $5,000 in high-performing organizations in Nicaragua—the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
Your donation will help us gain valuable hands on experience in the impact investing sector while directly supporting enterprise-based solutions that combat rural poverty in Nicaragua. Funding raised on Catalyst will also further enable our impact investments by helping us towards a larger financial goal that will trigger a challenge grant provided by the JMB Barker Foundation.
Our goal is to raise $5,000 via Catalyst. This money will go directly toward impact investments in high-performing social enterprises that work to alleviate rural poverty in Nicaragua. After visiting and working with these social enterprises in-country, students will determine where to invest through structured grants to cooperatives.
The Social Enterprise Institute (SEI) is grounded in the belief that business can be a powerful development tool by utilizing enterprise-based solutions to solve some of the world’s most pressing social problems. The SEI is a resource center housed in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business that empowers students to be socially motivated, global business leaders.