When I was 14 years-old, I opened my first business: an English school in the countryside of Brazil. I started with only two students slightly younger than me. By the age of 18, with over 50 students, I could afford my own apartment and pay for college. I also traveled Europe for a year! Eventually, that small enterprise led me to a career in international development.

The author (second from the right) at school with friends before attending to her first business.
The author (second from the right) at school with friends before attending to her first business (@Guimaraes 1993)

So, using social entrepreneurship as a catalyst for child rights at UNICEF Nicaragua came very naturally to me. I strongly believe in “… enlarging people’s choices, capabilities and freedoms so that they can live a long and healthy life, have access to knowledge, a decent standard of living, and participate in the life of their community” (Amartya Sen).

But creating these opportunities for agency is no easy feat. Under the Sociopreneur Initiative, we have set up a series of cool immersive workshops to help local entrepreneurs kick-start their social businesses. But to make these trainings effective (and sustainable), we’re also creating a social platform composed of community leaders, teachers, artists, private and public sectors. This is Tola Conecta.

Proud members of Tola Conecta, a social platform that will help create an entrepreneurial ecosystem
Proud members of Tola Conecta, a social platform that will help create an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the municipality of Tola (@Barrow 2014)

Tola Conecta has many goals. Its primary one is to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem that can in turn support local entrepreneurs and connect them with global collaborators. You see, it’s not just about trainings. It’s about creating the right conditions for capacity building to stick and flourish. It’s about complexity theory and collaborative solutions. After all, it takes a village to raise a child!

Little Toleña girl dreams of opportunities, choices and capabilities (@UNICEF Nicaragua/Bach/2013)
Little Toleña girl dreams of opportunities, choices and capabilities (@UNICEF Nicaragua/Bach/2013)

To learn more about what’s going on in the Sociopreneur Initiative and how social businesses can help child rights, check out our second newsletter!

Natalia Adler
Chief of Social Policy, UNICEF Nicaragua
twitter: nataliaadler19

Read more:

Pioneering entrepreneurship and design thinking for children in Nicaragua

The Sociopreneur initiative

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