Agape runs over 50 social programmes in El Salvador to address systematic gaps in education, healthcare, environment and economic development; it promotes self-sustainability of underserved communities.
Focus: Education, Environment, Health, Communications/Media
Geographic Area of Impact: El Salvador
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 308,833 (2008)
Annual Budget: US$ 9 million (2008)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 60%
Recognition: Regional Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Central America, 2009
After nearly 20 years of armed conflict El Salvador faced a difficult path to rebuild the economic and social livelihood of communities. The rural areas, in particular, suffered greatly during this period, experiencing a lack of adequate school facilities, health services, and economic resources to design and implement social assistance programmes. In this context of limited funding, innovative solutions are required to address key public needs of underserved individuals and groups, and that promote self-sustainability of communities.
Innovation and Activities
The Agape Association of El Salvador has developed 54 programmes in the areas of education, religion, environment, communications, and hotel and restaurant services. It also runs a home for the elderly, a university for students from low-income families, a communal restaurant, several clinics, a TV station and a publishing house. One of Agape’s more recent initiatives has been a training centre in the eastern city of Usulután where unemployed workers can take courses ranging from computer training to cooking lessons.
Applying a model of self-sustainability to each of its programmes, the association helps people with limited financial resources, including children. Through its Sonsonate SUPERATE (Excel Yourself) programme, it offers young people specialized training in three areas: English as a second language; use of technology (design and construction of computer programmes); and formation and practice of values. A number of major companies sponsor the programme.
Perhaps what sets Agape apart from other organizations is the combination of a strong social commitment with business-oriented practices. “If new tables are needed for the restaurant or the university, they are manufactured at one of our carpentry workshops. If an elderly person falls ill, a doctor from one of the clinics is there to help. All of our projects are interconnected,” says Father Flavian Mucci.
Flavian Mucci is a Franciscan priest who was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He arrived in El Salvador in the mid-1970s, and lived there during much of the country’s conflict, witnessing the consequences inflicted upon the population. Under his ministry the SOS Children's Villages programme was coordinated. Feeling that something was still missing in his life, he decided to open a dining facility for the elderly, which became known as the Agape Association. In addition to the association’s many programmes, it continues to offer more than 300 meals every day.
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