The DISCO project "work together, think different, innovate and dare to dream"

The DISCO project "work together, think different, innovate and dare to dream"

Organization type: 
for profit
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Half the population of Nicaragua is unemployed and 70 percent of the people live on less than a dollar a day. There are abundant natural resources and thousands of talented, hard-working people ready for a new opportunity.
The DISCO project is helping Small-to-Medium enterprises in Nicaragua create new opportunities and add value to their products and services by giving them access to affordable high quality design and innovation services, showing them how to better use technology, providing them with market trends and insights and helping them access new markets via online marketplaces and promotion.
We are creating a movement to show the world that if we work together, think differently, use innovative approaches to create new value and dare to dream we can create a world that works.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Half the population of Nicaragua is unemployed, and 70 percent of the people live on less than a dollar a day. The country is growing at a rate of 2.85 percent per year, one of the highest rates in Latin America yet we are still the second poorest nation in the western hemisphere behind Haiti. The country has suffered through a vast array of social and natural disasters ranging from devastating earthquakes, hurricanes and a 30 year long civi war. The civil war that began in the 1960s and finally ended in the late 1980s left the country economically devastated and socially divided. The early 90s brought new hope to the country as the civil war ended and a new government lead by Violeta Barrios Torres de Chamorro, who was the first elected female head of state in the Americas, began the reconstruction process of Nicaragua’s economy. Nicaragua faced another huge setback in 1998 when it was struck by the devastating effects of Hurricane Mitch. Money flowed in like water from foreign countries to help rebuild the infrastructure of the country but much of the money and aid was mis-managed by corrupt politicians and leaders. Like never before the people and the country of Nicaragua need well-educated, positive, innovative leaders who think and behave differently and can bring about higher levels of economic value by inspiring others and taking action. By helping the poor up the development ladder through innovation we can increase their income levels and create a trickle up effect which will reduce the manipulation of the poor by leaders and politicians that has plagued this country for so many years.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The DISCO project is the first project of its kind created by a designer from Nicaragua to help SMEs in Nicaragua innovate by using design, creativity, technology and creative collaboration as the main driving force for creating new opportunities and economic growth. The DISCO project compliments and enhances the current efforts of other organizations, programs and government agencies who are working to promote economic growth in the SME sector but lack the design expertise, experience or financing knowledge to take innovation efforts to the next level. Our "DISCO 360 v.1.0" diagnostic tool was custom designed based on 7 main categories: Design, Brand, Technology, Innovation, Production, Finance and Management. The tool allows us to get a 360 degree view of the current state of an SME and identifies their strengths and weaknesses so we can direct resources where they are needed the most and will make the most impact. The data collected through our tool is inputted into a database which then allows us to create custom reports on individual SMEs, groups of SMEs and even entire sectors. Because most SMEs dont have enough liquidity to pay upfront for services rendered we created a "pay-as-you-grow" payment model which allows them to pay over time via an affordable monthly payment program. This allows SMEs access to the services they need to grow their business and also teaches them the added value design, innovation and collaboration create as their sales grow because of better designed products and services, brand image, packaging, website, technology, etc.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Innovation or extinction? Small to Medium Enterprises or SMEs are the engines of modern day economies but without the right fuel these engines can not run and help grow their nations out of poverty. The DISCO Project which stands for “Design Innovation Synergy Creativity Originality” was designed by my company CADIMO to help innovate the economy and culture of SMEs in Nicaragua by giving them a better opportunity to compete and grow their business using design, creativity and technology. Most SMEs in Nicaragua and Central America in general have little or no access to high quality design and innovation services because of the high costs and lack of qualified service providers in the region but SMEs need to be innovative to compete, they must learn how to use technology to their advantage and they have to create beautifully designed, unique products and services or they will not survive as a business in this modern global economy. The DISCO project is working to create a new model of creative collaboration between the private sector, NGOs, Donating Countries, Not-for-Profits, Government Agencies, Universities and Consumers that will create added value to the products and services designed by SMEs to help them create new opportunities and accelerate economic growth. The DISCO projects primary activities are as follows: 1. Identify qualified SMEs who need help to grow their business 2. Perform a custom diagnostic based on 7 main categories which are: Design, Brand, Technology, Innovation, Production, Finance and Management to get a 360 degree view of SMEs current strengths and weaknesses. 3. Perform a Strategic Analysis based on the results of the diagnostic and propose viable solutions to help SMEs enhance their products and brand, better use technology, improve their service, and find new markets. 4. Create a personalized action plan based on the most viable solutions that will create opportunities for economic growth and organize the necessary team to implement the action plan. 5. Look for financing and support options via our partner network to help reduce the costs for the SMEs to complete the action plan and sign agreements with the SMEs and any partner organizations who are supporting them. 6. Implement the action plan and guide the SMEs along until the plan has been completed. 7. Measure and analyze the results of our efforts to identify and systemize best practices and share this knowledge with other programs, organizations and government agencies that are working to help SMEs grow.
About You
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name


Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact

, MN

How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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What stage is your project in?

Operating for less than a year

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

I David Cadia, was born in Los Angeles, California. My mother is from Nicaragua and my father was born in northern Italy and later immigrated to the United States after the end of WWII. My mother fled to the United States during the early 1970’s because of the civil war and the involvement in the Sandinista Revolution of my uncles Israel and Herty Lewites. My parents met in a disco in Los Angeles, California and were married 6 months later in Las Vegas.

Ten years ago I was working in a .com in Burbank, CA designing web pages when the bubble burst and all hell broke loose. I decided I needed a change contacted my brother who was living in Nicaragua and convinced myself that it would be an amazing experience to live in another country and learn about a different culture. Since I was a child I always felt a strong connection with Nicaragua. I would always spend my summer vacations in Nicaragua visiting my mom’s family. These amazing experiences truly opened my eyes to how different the world was outside of the US. I remember walking into a supermarket during the 1980s in Managua where the isles were completely empty. There was no food because of the war. It was such a contrast to the US. The war has been over for over 20 years and people are still suffering because poverty still dominates. There are abundant natural resources, talented hard working people but this country has to become innovative or it will stay in this situation forever. Innovation is my passion and I believe innovation can take Nicaragua out of the abyss its been in for some many years.

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

The DISCO project is helping to unify and concentrate the efforts of different organizations and programs that are working to help SMEs that traditionally would not work together. The project is opening their minds to a new form of creative collaboration. By working together as a collective we create more opportunities for growth and accelerate the process of innovation in the SME sector.

We believe in this new way of working because it is at the heart of our companies philosophy. I personally have put it into action and have seen the results with a client of our Café Don Paco When we started with Café Don Paco all they had was a logo and a cheap looking bag for their retail coffee. We worked hand-in-hand with them to create a new sustainable business model, re-brand their company and created one of the most innovative packaging designs in the Nicaraguan market. We showed them that the value of coffee was more than just what's in the cup by using design, creativity, technology to help them create a sustainable business model that did not solely rely on coffee production as their only source of revenue. When we started out with Café Don Paco their local coffee sales where $1000.00 per month today they are now selling over $15,000 per month.

We measure success by how much an SMEs grows their business after working with us.

How many people have been impacted by your project?


How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

We aim to create the "DISCO-tech" design and innovation center which we envision becoming the Agora for innovation in NIcaragua and Central America. The “DISCO-tech” will be used as a space where creatives, professionals and artisans can come to collaborate with experts from around the world, gain access to state of the art equipment, and receive classes in business management, product development, personal finance etc. We will use the facility to incubate ideas and plans for new products, new businesses, and new techniques. The DISCO-tech will be constructed of old shipping containers and contain a design studio, prototype lab, education center, business incubator, research station, and quality control export center.

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 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 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 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.

Which barriers to employment does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.




Lack of skills/training


Lack of access to information and networks

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

By creating added value to the value chain of products and services SMEs offer we increase their opportunities to create new economic growth and provide new employment in the areas they are located in. We accelerate economic growth for SMEs through better designed products and services, increased efficiency and more focused efforts from our partners.

We provide design and innovation workshops to help SMEs become more innovative using design, creativity, technology and creative collaboration.

Our services and network of contacts and partners provide SMEs access to information, financing, trends and market research and new market access via online marketplace product placement and promotion.

Are you trying to scale your organization or initiative?
If yes, please check up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.


Influenced other organizations and institutions through the spread of best practices



Grown geographic reach: Multi-country

Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

Currently we are initiating 3 pilot programs with 3 major organizations that will last from 1-2 years long. Through the relationships and trust we build with these organizations, the knowledge learned from the measurements and best practices we plan to grow our network of partners to work with micro and small to medium enterprises in the agro industry, light manufacturing, leather and shoemaking, artisan crafts and ceramics and woodwork sectors throughout the entire country and expand into other countries in Central America by the third year of the peoject.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

Government, Technology providers, NGOs/Nonprofits, For profit companies, Academia/universities.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

Our collaborations with organizations and programs such as the USAID funded “Enterprise & Employment Program” and CEI (Center for Export and Investment) give us immediate access to micro enterprises and small to medium enterprises in Nicaragua who need help to become more innovative. Working with organizations and programs like them allows us to focus on what we do best, adding value to value chain through design, creativity, technology and creative collaboration.

Our collaboration with Café Don Paco has given us an extra fund raising method and they have also agreed to donate the land where the the "DISCO-tech" design and innovation center will be built. The land is on one of there beautiful farms in El Crucero which located 20 minutes from the capital city of Managua.