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    Date submitted
  • 25-Aug-2017

Alterna

Abstract

Founded in 2010 and based in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, Alterna is the premier Center for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship in Central America. Alterna is committed to developing an inclusive and dynamic ecosystem for social entrepreneurship through the incubation and cultivation of high-impact social ventures.

At Alterna, we don’t just talk about entrepreneurship; we “walk the talk.” Through our social venture incubation program, we have launched two social enterprises of our own. Alterna’s first incubated venture is Doña Dora, a company that manufactures and sells clean, efficient cook stoves. Viogaz, Alterna’s second incubated social venture designs, sells and services biodigesters which convert organic waste to fuel and organic fertilizer thereby reducing consumption of propane, wood and chemical fertilizers. Our experience creating and scaling social enterprises aids our cultivation work by providing us with: an understanding of the challenges in building a business in the developing world; credibility; and, an internal source of revenue that provides sustainability to our organization.

Video

Original YouTube URL: Open

Introduction Video

Additional Questions

Who is your customer?

Alterna has developed a ‘Social Business Cultivation’ program that offers social entrepreneurs a platform for inclusive and relevant support.

What problem does this idea/product solve or what market need does it serve?

A global ecosystem has emerged in recent years to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the developing world as an alternative to traditional development aid. However, this system has primarily targeted ready-to-scale “high-impact” enterprises in urban areas. In Guatemala, as in much of Central America, a large portion of local social enterprises fall outside the spectrum of existing support structures. They are often too large to benefit from the services offered through micro finance institutions but also suffer from limited access to SME support and capital that could help them achieve their goals and maximize their impact.

What attributes will make this idea/product successful? Why do you believe that those features will create success?

Our program integrates 1) affordable high quality business consulting, 2) a dynamic entrepreneur support network, and 3) enables access to appropriate and relevant sources of financing. Over the course of 2014-2016, Alterna will fully operationalize and expand its ‘Cultivation Program’ with a goal of cultivating 500 social entrepreneurs across Guatemala.

Explain how you (your team) will execute to make this idea/product successful? What gives you (your team) an advantage over others already in the market or new to this market?

At Alterna, we don’t just talk about entrepreneurship; we “walk the talk.” Through our social venture incubation program, we have launched two social enterprises of our own. Alterna’s first incubated venture is Doña Dora, a company that manufactures and sells clean, efficient cook stoves. The Doña Dora stoves help mitigate the serious social and environmental consequences of cooking with wood. Viogaz, Alterna’s second incubated social venture designs, sells and services biodigesters which convert organic waste to fuel and organic fertilizer thereby reducing consumption of propane, wood and chemical fertilizers. Our experience creating and scaling social enterprises aids our cultivation work by providing us with: an understanding of the challenges in building a business in the developing world; credibility; and, an internal source of revenue that provides sustainability to our organization.