What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?
Access to the necessary seed capital injection needed to mange the "cash float" for our "pay-as-you-grow" payment model is one of the main barriers that might hinder the success of our project. Without the needed seed capital it will be extremely difficult to offer SMEs a low monthly payment program for services rendered and that will hinder our expansion efforts and the amount of SMEs we can work with outside of partner organizations and programs. This is why we are entering our project into this competition, to win the needed seed capital. With the $50,000.00 from this competition we can directly apply for a grant from the IDB's Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF). Our company, project, and country meet the basic eligibility criteria for these funds once we have the counterpart contribution required which is from 30 to 50% of the total project cost.
Our strategic alliances and partnerships give us the ability to access funds together so someway or another we will find the seed capital we need to expand efforts to other SMEs outside assistance programs.
Tell us about your partnerships
The "Enterprise & Employment Program" is a USAID funded program which has been working to create economic development for SMEs in Nicargua for that past two years and received additional funding in 2010 to continue operations until 2013. They use an “anchor” business strategy to promote economic development in the SME sector. Following their “anchor” business strategy, we are working with them to begin a pilot "Virtual Anchor" model with CANCUNIC the Leather and Shoemaking Chamber of Commerce they are currently assisting.
CEI (Center for Export and Investment) is a private, non-profit corporation which supports micro, small and medium scale enterprises, as well as organized or individual producers, in order to improve the competitiveness of the Nicaragua export sector, successfully positioning it in international markets. We are partnering with CEI to create a two year pilot that will allow 50 qualified SMEs per year access to the services the DISCO project provides at a vastly reduced rate and optional financing based on their total scores from our "DISCO diagnostic tool".
Chaka Market Bridge www.chakamarketbridge.com is a small business run by young American entrepreneurs who purchase unique one of a kind artisan goods from Nicaragua at above local market prices and then sell them on their website or place the products in high-end boutique shops in Northern Virginia. We are currently in talks to partner on various levels. Chaka has a demand for more unique better quality artisan goods which the DISCO project can help them find. We are also in discussions to look for funding to co-create the "DISCO-tech design and innovation center" where the project would headquarter our operations.
Café Don Paco is a socially conscious specialty coffee retailer from Nicaragua who has offered to provide us with a private label coffee brand called "Innovation Coffee". All net proceeds of Innovation Coffee will go towards supporting the DISCO project and the creation of the DISCO-tech design and innovation center.
The UPOLI is a Polytechnic University in Managua www.upoli.edu.ni that we are currently working with to create an internship program with their students and the DISCO project.
Fundación Almori is a nonprofit organization registered and based in Managua, Nicaragua. Almori Foundation develops projects in five key program areas: Education, Health and well-being, Business development, Rural development, Sustainable energy. Fundación Almori is our main partner working with us to find financing for the the DISCO-tech design and innovation center. We are currently working with them on a proposal to apply for available funds from the European Union via the MIFIC government ministry in Nicaragua.
CEPREV www.ceprev.org is a local NGO in Nicaragua that works with at risk youth and the prevention of violence in the family. We are currently working with CEPREV to create a project that will provide the at risk youth who have been trained by CEPREV in the arts new job opportunities by helping them create a new small business that will sell graffiti style custom painted clothes such as hats, t-shirts, shoes and bags.
Other potential partner organizations that we will be meeting with in the following months are TECHNOSERVE NICARAGUA, the national institution for science,technology and innovation CONICYT, the Nicaragua Chamber of Commerce COSEP and the American Chamber of Commerce in Nicaragua AMCHAM.
Explain your selections
Friends and family have personally given over $15,000 to start the project.
Individuals support the DISCO project by purchasing Innovation Coffee from Café Don Paco and individual Professionals can give a social donation of their time and knowledge to help our efforts via video chat or by coming down to Nicaragua to work with us.
NGOs and Foundations help support DISCO by allowing us to work with them and create pilot programs together.
Businesses support DISCO by making donations to the organizations that project partners with.
Customers support DISCO when they pay for our services which help us to be a sustainable social business venture.
Government support DISCO by providing us access to qualified SMEs via the MIFIC Ministry, which is the ministry for commerce and enterprise in Nicaragua.
How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?
The DISCO project was designed as a socially conscious business venture from the very beginning so we can continue to grow and expand over the next several years once we obtain the needed seed capital to begin fully operating. By initiating our "pay-as-you-grow" model we can expand our client base to SMEs that our not being aided via an organization, program or government agency which will help to create a predictable cash flow model for optimum efficiency and planning of resources.
We also plan to expand into other Central American countries to offer our services and expand our customer base.