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Over winter break first-year students Lian de Castro ’07, Giselle Leung ’07, Lauren Franks ’07 and Susana Lopez Lopez ’07 (pictured) flew to Chile’s capital to meet with the Nonprofit Enterprise Social Sustainability Team (NESsT), with which they had been collaborating for the previous four months.
NESsT’s mission is to find lasting solutions to systemic poverty and social injustice through the development of mission-driven businesses that increase the financial sustainability and social change impact of civil society organizations.
The Columbia team’s specific project was to develop a set of social enterprise implementation tools that will be used to train NESsT’s portfolio organizations to effectively launch their ventures, grow and become sustainable. These tools would create a set of concepts, processes, guides and templates to be used by hundreds of nonprofits around Latin America and Central Europe that have already developed their business plans for revenue-generating ventures.
The team developed three individual toolkits based on independent research and their professional backgrounds. Leung and Lopez Lopez focused on creating a comprehensive and detailed financial toolkit with budgeting, reporting and forecasting models. Franks drew on her background in human resources to develop a set of best practices and policies, and De Castro created a toolkit for marketing strategies.
“We worked extremely hard and spent more than one all-nighter working on our tools,” says team member Lopez Lopez, “but we had an incredibly rewarding experience of witnessing firsthand the impact of our work while in Chile.”
The team’s travel costs were supported by the Social Enterprise Program through its International Development Consulting Project Travel Fund.