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Worskop of wood crafts in LaPaz

Social impact through small business

Since 2013, the In Their Lifetime (ITL) incubator has been funding commercial initiatives in Bolivia to help them grow to the point where they can be self-sufficient and can seek external investment.

In the last four years it has become clear that, in addition to financial support, assistance is often required in building the business skills of the enterprise.

The newly formed Social Enterprise Programme funded by ITL is helping companies like Caleidoscopio, a handicraft store in LaPaz, Bolivia, with just that.

Caleidescopio owner Javier, right and one of his suppliers

According to Claudia and Javier, Caleidoscopio’s owners, one of their main objectives is to provide artisans living in rural areas with the opportunity to sell their products. This not only generates income, but reduces the need for producers to migrate to larger urban centres.

The ITL Social Enterprise Programme has connected Caleidescopio with Fundación IES (FIES) - a locally based consultancy that provides technical assistance to social enterprises.

Working with FIES, Claudia and Javier were able to rethink their strategy and the daily running of the business. More specifically, a stock control system was implemented, the visual identity was refreshed, they started exploring internet marketing and began taking payments by card.

The new system has also allowed them to collect customer feedback, which informs new product design.

Claudia told us that the store had been suffering from falling revenue, but these changes have helped to reverse the decline. The impact has been greater customer demand, which has a positive impact not just on Caleidescopio, but also the wider community, including their suppliers.