Monday, May 1, 2006
In Chile, a novel training program pairs business-school students with low-income entrepreneurs in a mutually enriching partnership.
By Nicole Keller
When M?nica Civilo decided to start her own business, she felt disadvantaged because she had no access to financing. (Banks generally require businesses to be up and running, or at least to put up collateral for a loan.) Once she did manage to get the money together, the family toymaker found herself in a complicated situation. ?We were able to create our product, but we had no idea how to run the business,? M?nica recalls. ?We didn?t know how to keep the books, set prices or how to learn [how to do these things].?
An?bal Pinto, who was in his last year of law school, thought he could help raise people out of poverty by training potential microentrepreneurs to manage their businesses. His first aspirations were modest. He recruited four friends and asked local officials to put him in touch with people who needed technical assistance. ?It was fun,? remembers Pablo Narv?ez, one of the first instructors. ?They let us use the canteen after it closed. We would move the chairs and tables, and make a kind of classroom setup.?
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