Martin Burt

Fundación Paraguaya

Video Interview 1 Video Interview 2 (Español)

Fundación Paraguaya develops and implements practical, innovative and sustainable solutions that eliminate poverty and create decent living conditions for every family.

Focus: Civic Participation, Education, Environment, Microfinance, Rural Development, Poverty Elimination
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Geographic Area of Impact: Global
Annual Budget: US$ 12 million (2013)
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 105,130 (2012)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 83% (2012)
Recognition: Schwab Fellow of the World Economic Forum

Paraguay, one of the poorest countries in Latin America, has a per capita income of US$ 2,700; one-third of the population lives on less than US$ 2 per day. Around 30% of young people aged 15-24 obtain neither marketable skills in school nor use such skills in productive work, indicating this valuable economic resource of human capital is wasted and greater educational opportunities are needed.

Innovation and Activities
Fundación Paraguaya (FP) was the first microfinance institution in Paraguay and a founding member of the Acción International microfinance network. In 1995, FP pioneered financial literacy and entrepreneurial education in Paraguay, adapting junior achievement methodologies to underprivileged youths. In 2003, it turned a bankrupt boys’ agricultural school into a financially self-sufficient, co-ed school; its 17 educational enterprises now cover the school’s operating costs.

Fundación Paraguaya is a pioneer in sustainable agricultural education, providing 100% employability to poor rural youth through a market-based curriculum in free, quality, 100% financially self-sufficient schools. This education allows students to find agricultural jobs upon graduation, create small enterprises, or enter university. In 2009, a girl’s school was set up in partnership with the Bertoni Nature Conservancy and Mbaracayu Forest Reserve Foundation, and in 2010-11 two more schools joined the education model.

In 2007, FP committed to “education-that-pays-for-itself” under the Clinton Global Initiative, replicating its model in 50 schools globally. There are now +50 partner organizations in 30 countries replicating the model, and in 2011 Fundación set up offices in Morogoro and Njombe, Tanzania, Sub-Saharan Africa. Additionally, FP disseminates this model through its London-based partner, TeachAManToFish, which has a network of 2,500 institutions in over 125 countries.

Fundación Paraguaya also developed an inclusive approach to poverty measurement and elimination, with a pilot project addressing 50 tangible and intangible poverty indicators being implemented in five women’s loan groups since June 2010. In 2011, the incomes of 6,000 women rose above the national poverty line; in 2012, 5,050 families’ income rose above the poverty line, while 550 women were lifted out of poverty in all of FP’s 50 poverty indicators.

The Entrepreneur
Burt Martin is a social entrepreneur who served as Paraguay’s Vice-Minister of Commerce, Mayor of Asunción and twice as President of the Paraguayan-American Chamber of Commerce. He is a founding board member of the Bertoni Conservation Foundation and Mbaracayu Biosphere Reserve, a trustee of the Karatara Project in South Africa, and a visiting professor in social entrepreneurship at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California and the American University of Nigeria in Yola. His commitment to education is featured as part of the Clinton Global Initiative. Presently he is Minister, Secretary-General and Chief of the President of the Republic of Paraguay’s Cabinet. He has received the Inter-American Development Bank’s Microfinance Award, Skoll Foundation Social Entrepreneur Award, Templeton Freedom Award, World Innovation Summit in Education Award, Opportunity Collaboration Achievement Award, and Ashoka Changemakers Award. He received distinguished alumni awards from the University of the Pacific and George Washington University, the 2007 Social Innovation Award from Brigham Young University, and is an Avina Foundation leader, Eisenhower Fellow and Synergos Africa Leader and Fellow.