“When you promote entrepreneurship as a public policy in the developing world, you aren’t just promoting poverty elimination, you are promoting three core values fundamental to democracy,” explains Anibal Pinto, the founder of Accion Emprendedora, a nonprofit based in Santiago, Chile. “You promote freedom, individual responsibility and a space for creativity. There is no country where entrepreneurship spreads that democracy doesn’t also spread. They are LINKED. No question about it.”
Accion Emprendedora is a non-profit organization focused on improving Chilean society by supporting low-income entrepreneurs, specifically smaller enterprises. How does Accion Emprendedora accomplish their mission? By providing education, money and mentorship programs for low-income entrepreneurs and wanna-be entrepreneurs, they help build sustainable, small enterprises in Chile and ultimately work to alleviate poverty. So far Anibal states they’ve helped 4,000+ entrepreneurs in Chile, and with each entrepreneur employing about 1.7 people, Anibal is assured that they are making a difference in Chile’s local economy and society.
Accion Emprendedora started after Anibal volunteered and provided a class to low income entrepreneurs. “I was originally a lawyer and then spent several years in the financial services program. I was making a lot of money but wasn’t adding value to my life. I needed something new,” That’s when one of his friends recommended teaching a business class to low income entrepreneurs. “I realized that the hour I spent with these entrepreneurs was more valued here than my work as a lawyer.”
After four years of “marvelous loneliness” during the initial start up phase, Anibal received a 1 million USD grant in 2006. Since then, Anibal is proud to say that they are a self-sustaining organization, which brings in income through their consulting programs with larger companies.
“I don’t have a favorite entrepreneur,” admits Anibal when we asked. “But the first five entrepreneurs that joined our program are extremely special to me.” Three of those early entrepreneurs were bakers, one was a plumber and the last created children’s toys.
“80% of the entrepreneurs that come to us already have a business and also, about 80% are women. They are typically entrepreneurs out of necessity – because there are few to no other options available to them.”