22 women at the controls of a micro-business in Bolivia

The ESSEC nonprofit Mission Potosi, created in 2003, has developed an understanding of the needs and the local context in south-western Bolivia.To conduct its initiatives in the service of community and humanitarian projects, it has opened up to students from other schools (ENSAE, Polytechnic, ENS Cachan, Medicine), who offer the projects their expertise.

Social and Employment

Potosi, Bolivia

Antoine Nguyen

€5800 (2010 Student Solidarity Awards) to the Selection Committee at 2009/12/01

Project leader

Mission Potosi

Self-sufficiency and stability through the eye of a needle

Following a market survey carried out in 2009, the nonprofit found that a score of mothers in the mining town of Potosi wanted to create a seamstress business to stabilize the income of their households, essentially earned by mining activities, and thereby to achieve financial self-sufficiency.

A seamstress training course delivered in the same year laid the practical groundwork to complete the initiative.

Training in management and accountancy required to make the business viable

Competence is not enough to guarantee the viability of the micro-business, so counselling continues in 2010 with classes in management and accountancy.
Organising the teaching provided in the training workshops by a qualified teacher was set up thanks to the solid partnership established with associations installed in Potosi (Cepromin and KNH in particular).

In its approach, Mission Potosi receives support from the project sponsor, contract operator in the financing-accounts division of Veolia Environnement, who provides her skills in financial management and advises nonprofit in completing this lasting micro-business project.

80% of the grant awarded to this nonprofit by the jury of the 2010 "Student Solidarity Awards" will be used to purchase sewing machines, and the remaining 20% will pay the trainer.

Social business organizations are also granting low-interest loans, which will be used to expand the activity of the micro-businesses by financing the purchase of new sewing machines.

The students, who are totally involved, pay their own transportation costs and travel to the field every year to monitor the projects. At the same time, Mission Potosi carries out additional projects with the children of five hostels of the town in matters of health (organization of medical visits and care), housing (installation of photovoltaic panels for hot water supply), social counselling (awareness raising, awakening, etc.) and micro-business.

Baking and sewing workshops in Potosi

In 2010, the mission was able to evaluate the evolution of the micro-business project set up the year prior. The 22 women who followed the sewing workshop, and with whom the association was in touch, expressed a need for a micro-business in baking goods, not only sewing. This activity presents several advantages including that the women already have skills in this type of work.

After conducting a survey in the villages' restaurants, it became clear there is a demand for baking goods. Restaurant owners expressed interest in buying fresh baked goods for the afternoon and evening crowds.

The organisation therefore set up two baking workshops in Potosi. The sewing workshops are still running and the organisation also bought furniture to increase capacity in the local food canteen.