I’d like to take this time to introduce my my new role and organization, NESsT, where I run global communications and marketing across Latin America, Europe, the UK and the United States. We develop sustainable social enterprises to solve critical social problems in emerging market economies.
We do this through short and long term consulting, connecting investments and venture philanthropy with our portfolio of social businesses, and also through cutting edge research to inform the industry.
For years now, Latin America has been a preferred target for investors due to existing economic opportunities and policies that favor foreign direct investment. Investors and companies have succeeded, profited and expanded their ventures in Latin America, but what if the ROI could be even greater than a sustainable financial return?
Making a triple-bottom-line impact is becoming more popular and now possible more than ever. Benefits from investing in international social challenges can bring more than just a good feeling, but often partnerships. Just as Latin America offers economic opportunity, it too provides investors and companies with an opportunity to solve environmental and social problems, if they are willing to invest in an already existing sector: social enterprises.
Social enterprises apply business principles and practices to achieve social good. They reinvest their financial returns into the community to further their social purpose, to create employment and/or other economic and social benefits for marginalized communities.
Today, companies, venture capital and private equity are forming alliances that lead to broader collaboration in this space. In May, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and companies like Citi, Microsoft and PepsiCo, among others, held special sessions in Quito, Ecuador, in an initiative called CSR Innolabs, which seeks to generate competitive and sustainable Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives that tackle climate change through social entrepreneurship.
Last week in Santiago, Chile, on June 4 and 5, the Latin American Venture Capital Association (LAVCA) held its annual forum. LAVCA´s mission is to spur regional economic growth by advancing venture capital and private equity investment. This is accomplished through programs of research, networking, investor education, the promotion of best investment practices, and the advocacy of sound public policy.
In light of this collaborative approach, LAVCA is partnering with NESsT. This event is just one example of how LAVCA is providing a venue for venture capital to learn about a portfolio of viable social enterprises in various Latin American countries that NESsT supports, such as Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Brazil. Focusing on early stage enterprises, NESsT prepares them for scaling, a stage of business support that NESsT could not do without the partnership of LAVCA and its private equity and venture capital supporters. Many benefits come from these partnerships. One such success story comes out of Chile, and was showcased at the event.
NESsT supports UPASOL, an organization that runs a recycling social enterprise. The social enterprise recycles and sells these materials, generating enough revenue to support a rehabilitation center in the rural northern town of Vicuña. While the enterprise has reached 1,824 beneficiaries and generates annual revenues totaling US $62,000, its potential is evident as it is financially sustainable while tackling disability and environmental problems simultaneously. It is currently being considered for scaling.