InspiroFund: making the work of Ashoka and peers* travel the "last mile" to inspire would-be entrepreneurs with no access to ICT

InspiroFund: making the work of Ashoka and peers* travel the "last mile" to inspire would-be entrepreneurs with no access to ICT

Ecuador
Budget: 
$1,000 - $10,000
Website:
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

Further the emergence of social entrepreneurship by "inspiring" targeted low income groups with success stories and replicable ideas from around the world compiled from Ashoka and other innovation-based organizations’ websites, using an appropriate media mix and local partners that acknowledge the poor are still overcoming the digital divide and do not yet fully benefit from the wealth of information and experience available on the internet.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

One key advantage behind the InspiroFund concept is the flexibility it provides to address several groups with varying necessities since the proposed scheme relies on local partners to use and re-distribute the materials that will be prepared. The focus on beneficiaries, then, can be switched or expanded rapidly by emphasizing work with partners selected from the desired field of attention. Nevertheless, InspiroFund staff has prioritized the following partners and corresponding beneficiaries: a) poor rural communities in the High Andes and Amazonia, depending upon agriculture and livestock, facing deforestation, desertification, loss of biodiversity, lack of fresh water; b) young urban disadvantaged groups, illiterate, unemployed, homeless, addicted to alcohol and drugs; and, c) communities living inside or at buffer zones of protected areas (parks and reserves) faced with fast growing unsustainable tourism activities.

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

This project acknowledges lasting development will only happen when disadvantaged groups have jobs that enable them to provide for themselves and, most importantly, better their self-esteem and get underdevelopment out of the mind. More entrepreneurial activity is needed to create those jobs, better if undertaken by these same people, which understand best their own needs, opportunities and interest. The catch: motivation needs to come first. Learning from success stories about others that were able to overcome similar or even worse difficulties (poverty, corruption, war, environmental degradation, etc.) is probably the best way of creating that positive state of the mind that enables the entrepreneurial spirit to flourish. Nevertheless, once a new entrepreneur decides to venture, a main obstacle is to generate a viable idea or to develop a sound business case for it. There is no time to re-invent the wheel. By tapping upon the wealth of resources available on the internet (Ashoka and others) the success rate of new endeavors increases. This project also acknowledges that ICT have leap frogged over disadvantaged groups, which even if provided with internet access could not find or benefit from this information, or worse so, might not be motivated to look for it.
Impact: How does it Work

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

InspiroFund is two pronged. Firstly, it will build upon and amplify the work of Ashoka and others by permanently mining ideas, projects, best-practices from around the world that could be replicated or adapted to the local context. Secondly, it will convert that information into an inspiring format (including motivational and self-help tools) and proactively re-distribute it to targeted groups through collaboration with local partners already working in the social innovation field. The premises: there is just too much information on the internet to keep track, and most of it still unreachable for disadvantaged groups. And, before entrepreneurial activity occurs, there needs to be inspiration. Regretfully, would-be entrepreneurs throughout the developing world suffer from chronic demotivation, probably the most disturbing consequence of poverty. Working with local partners means to consult and provide them with materials formatted for their beneficiaries, using a combination of traditional and modern media: talks by professional motivators using success cases in a motivational style; printed newsletter; but also a web portal, an e-newsletter, teleconferencing with actual project executors. Complementary steps for business development will be passed on to existing structures (mainly business incubators), thus unleashing not one, but hundreds of ideas… and minds.
About You
Organization:
n/a
About You
First Name

Luis

Last Name

Rodriguez

Twitter
Facebook Profile
About Your Organization
Organization Name

n/a

Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact
How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

Innovation
What stage is your project in?

Idea phase

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

Luis is a serial entrepreneur born and raised in Ecuador, with a master degree on environmental policy and management from Yale University. Professionally, he has had the unique opportunity to contribute from varying types of organizations, in the public and private sectors, in developed and developing countries (NGOs, the World Bank, Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment) and from the academia (Universidad San Francisco de Quito). Included among his ventures are the first Ecuadorian environmental magazine, the first sustainable business incubator in Ecuador, and several sustainable mobility projects.

Luis has been involved with the entrepreneurial process most of his life. He is familiar with the risks and rewards in the social innovation process, and knows idea-generation is often about arranging existing pieces extracted from across the board in a new way.

The InspiroFund concept is plain and simple. It summarizes Luis’ experience working first-hand with disadvantaged groups and with entrepreneurs. It was also inspired by personal frustration about the wealth of resources available on the internet still out of reach for these willing people. The project reminds us that the internet and the fabulous tools available on-line combined with all ICTs are means to a greater end, especially for the poor.

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

InspiroFund is at the idea stage. However, clear indicators to measure success have already been established. MAIN GOAL: InspiroFund will increase the quantity and quality of new ventures attended by business incubators and other business development services, focusing mainly on opportunity mining and increase of entrepreneurial activity by means of motivation.

Corresponding indicators will be developed for the following matters:
- Number of ideas, projects, experiences compiled and distributed monthly.
- Number of local partners participating in InspiroFund scheme.
- Number of beneficiaries reached by InspiroFund partnerships per month.
- Number of new projects managed by business development services originated at InspiroFund partnerships.
- Survival rate of new ventures originating at InspiroFund partnerships after 1, 3, 5 and 10 years from launch.
- Time to financial and operational self-sustainability (InspiroFund projects vs. non- InspiroFund).
- Financial and operational self-sustainability of InspiroFund scheme itself after 1, 3, 5 and 10 years of launch.

There will be other indirect benefits that will also be measured:
- Increase in self-worth among targeted beneficiaries.
- Benefits arising from networking among beneficiaries, partner organizations and InspiroFund staff.
- Beneficiaries’ improved performance in current activities or jobs.
- Beneficiaries’ improved family relationships.

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?

- Proposed information mining easily expandable to compile data on grant and funding opportunities, idea competitions, scholarships, on-line advising, training and networking.

- Expand media combination on both ends (traditional and modern): radio and TV show (including YouTube channel); on-line counseling and coaching to beneficiaries.

- Increase entrepreneurial activity in other segments of the population and attract seasoned entrepreneurs and other actors to tap upon the information gathered, mainly via ICTs.

- Partnering organizations with national coverage, and replication underway in other countries.

Sustainability
What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

1. Intellectual and property rights: even though the ideas and projects presented at relevant web portals (i.e. Ashoka, Development Marketplace; New Ventures; BID Global Challenge; RandomKid, etc.) are intended for replication, there might be additional requirements for assuring property and intellectual rights are respected. Effort will be dedicated to these activities if necessary; chance of occurrence is low to moderate.

2. Reluctance or lack of decisive involvement from local partnering organizations to participate in InspiroFund’s scheme: nevertheless, they have been consulted and have shown interest since the foundations of the project reflect the main obstacles they face regularly (lack of motivation by intended beneficiaries, difficulty in generating viable ideas and sound business cases, lack of resources to keep track of opportunities available on the internet). They will receive InspiroFund materials free of charge. Chance of occurrence is low.

3. Ineffectiveness to motivate beneficiaries in order for them to act upon opportunities presented: moreover, local conditions outside the realm of this project (economic, social, political) affect the decision to venture or not. Media mix would be revised, complementary motivational actions will be taken (prizes, grants, field visits, scholarships). Chance of occurrence is moderate.

Tell us about your partnerships

As explained elsewhere, partnerships are at the core of InspiroFund action. They will be sought after with organizations experienced in various fields, which basically commit to use and distribute the information generated by InspiroFund among their staff and beneficiaries. When possible, it will be used as input for project development or innovation programs underway or will generate new programs based upon new ideas presented by InspiroFund's compilation. There are youth organizations (i.e. Junior Achievement); rural development NGOs (i.e. CESA, FEPP, Camari, etc.); microfinance institutions (i.e. Banco Solidario, Credifé); business incubators (USFQ, ConQuito, etc.); social responsibility programs within several large corporations (i.e. Telefonica, Coca-Cola, Kinross, GM, etc.), and the list goes on.

It is worth noting the printed newsletter (key for InspiroFund’s action) has been conceived as a section (initially 4 pages) within an existing business magazine with a consolidated printing volume, via a partnership agreement. In exchange for this quality content, the magazine has agreed to allow InspiroFund to manage and benefit from 70% of sponsorship and advertising to this section. Additionally, 200 magazines will be assigned to InspiroFund for distribution among partner organizations free of charge.

Explain your selections

Launch is planned by mid-September 2011. Seed funding is being secured from government agencies and local donors. The financial strategy includes compact staffing during start up (and later stages), the involvement of university students (for academic credit) within a local university (USFQ), which will also provide office space, clerical services, and communications free of charge. In exchange, a course will be developed on the subject and materials generated by InspiroFund will be available for use in several classes across university schools and departments.

Additional sources of funding expected in the short-term include the monthly newsletter, which will be hosted as a 4-page section within a consolidated business magazine. In exchange for this quality content, the magazine has agreed to allow InspiroFund to manage and benefit from 70% of sponsorship and advertising to this section. Lectures and speeches for a fee by famous authors and entrepreneurs (in person and/or via teleconference) are also planned.

Nevertheless, donor involvement (local and international) and grants are expected to account for a large share of financial resources needed to sustain the project in the long term (aprox. 40%).

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

Securing financial sustainability by means of:
- Keeping compact staffing and avoiding unnecessary bureaucracy.
- Adding services for a fee (access to database, speeches by well-known personalities and social innovators, newsletter subscription).
- Increase sponsorship and advertising in printed newsletter, radio/TV show (including YouTube).
- Increase funding from government agencies (there are several agencies addressing entrepreneurship and innovation issues).
- Increase funding from donors (local and international), multilateral and bilateral development agencies, and from development banks.

Expanding products and services (repeated from prior section):
- Proposed information mining easily expandable to compile data on grant and funding opportunities, idea competitions, scholarships, on-line advising, training and networking.
- Expand media combination on both ends (traditional and modern): radio and TV show (including YouTube channel); on-line counseling and coaching to beneficiaries.
- Increase entrepreneurial activity in other segments of the population and attract seasoned entrepreneurs and other actors to tap upon the information gathered, mainly via ICTs.
- Partnering organizations with national coverage, and replication underway in other countries.

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

PRIMARY

Lack of access to information and networks

SECONDARY

Lack of skills/training

TERTIARY

Other (Specify Below)

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

InspiroFund acts as a catalyst that allows disadvantaged local entrepreneurs to benefit from global information and resources. Consider other facts: the language barrier still exist, digital illiteracy is high especially among adults who; internet access is still expensive, and penetration and quality/speed still low (important when considering the design complexity in modern web portals).

Business incubators exist; microfinance is there; even micro investing (micro-angels, micro-VCs). However, none of those work if people live hopeless lives; motivation is what matters the most and needs to be present as a condition for entrepreneurial activity to occur.

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

PRIMARY

Influenced other organizations and institutions through the spread of best practices

SECONDARY

Grown geographic reach: Global

TERTIARY

Enhanced existing impact through addition of complementary services

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

Currently focusing on launch phase, and planning quick nation-wide expansion in order to gain economies of scale in the operation. Aim is for others to replicate the model globally.

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?

As explained elsewhere, partnerships with varying organizations are at the core of InspiroFund program.

randomness