Program alumni Helga is transforming social enterprise in Colombia

social enterprise

Graduate of the Global Entrepreneurship Program Helga Quijano launched social enterprise NEGSO, a consultancy service which creates and supports sustainable social businesses in vulnerable communities in her native Colombia. Helga joined the program thanks to the program’s focus on social entrepreneurship, an area she is truly passionate about. Having completed her entrepreneurship studies in France, China and the US, Helga returned to Colombia, where she saw a great opportunity to make a difference in the 12th most unequal country in the world. Helga tells us why she joined the entrepreneurship program, why studying with an international cohort was her biggest take-away from the experience and how she aims to revolutionize social enterprise projects all around the world.

social enterpriseHelga, what was your motivation for joining the Global Entrepreneurship Program?

Throughout my work experience in different industries (manufacturing, oil, and banking) I learned about the business culture and witnessed its benefits and shortcomings. This led me to establish my goal to obtain a broad knowledge of global business, to learn the advantages and drawbacks of different business approaches and to apply that knowledge for the benefit of my business, my country and the world.

I selected this Entrepreneurship Program because I wanted a real change for my career and life. Having my own social enterprise business always interested me. I have always had that purpose and it has motivated me reach this goal. My ability to change, my understanding of different industries, my experience throughout the program and my desire to help people led me to create the social enterprise NEGSO.

Did the focus on social entrepreneurship throughout the Global Entrepreneurship Program benefit you?

The social entrepreneurship part of the program was very encouraging for my purpose. I had the opportunity to learn about different social business models around the world, as well as take and shape my social enterprise ideas.

Having completed the Global Entrepreneurship Program, what do you consider were the main benefits of studying internationally?

  • The global outlook and open mind-set I acquired
  • A greater professional recognition among educated citizens
  • The ability to change, adapt and deal with any person or situation

social enterprise

What was your biggest personal take-away or learning from the program?

I strongly believe the cultural diversity was the most valuable asset of the Global Entrepreneurship Program. There were people from 12 different nationalities in my class. It helped me to acquire a global mind-set, a broad view of business, and an understanding of different values, habits, behaviors, traditions, and ways of living, not only by gaining knowledge in the classroom, but through direct contact with other countries, cultures and people. I honed my soft skills by managing cultural differences, as well as learned specific entrepreneurial, tactical and strategic management skills, with a focus on small businesses in a worldwide framework.

Having to live, travel, study, and work with the same people for a whole year was a big learning experience and challenge, which made me more adaptable, resourceful, tolerant, and stronger to face new circumstances and  pursue my ideas. Getting this degree at three different universities abroad, exploring an international perspective of business and learning by hands-on practice, along with my belief of contributing to society led me to successfully realize my goal of establishing my own social enterprise.

social enterprise

Could you tell us more about NEGSO, the social enterprise you launched after the program?

NEGSO provides sustainable solutions to social problems in vulnerable communities based on the creation, capitalization, strengthening and sustainability of productive units or social businesses as an effective source of economic development.

Our purpose is to eradicate poverty by creating social businesses and entrepreneurial networks in distressed communities using the cooperation of the private sector for capital and formation.

We provide consultancy services for corporate social responsibility. Our services include the assessment, design, implementation and support of productive community programs. We offer business continuity by marketing finished products through strategic alliances in different industries. We provide our communities with a means to commercialize the products they manufacture.

By 2020 we aim to be positioned as the company that revolutionized the way companies make a social and economic impact on vulnerable communities. We aim to be recognized as a benchmark for the entire value chain of social businesses. I can see myself leading, growing and diversifying my company, carrying out social innovative and entrepreneurial projects in distressed communities and generating high social, economic, and cultural impact around the world. I expect to have an international presence replicating the methodology used in Colombia to alleviate poverty and promote livelihood opportunities for those in need.

As one of the engines of my company: I strongly believe my success is going to be measured according to the number of lives I will transform. For more information on NEGSO, please visit: Any support is more than welcome.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
African Proverb

The Global Entrepreneurship Program, run jointly by EMLYON Business School (Europe), Zhejiang University (Asia) and Pace University (USA), focuses around 4 main pillars of entrepreneurship; New Venture Creation, Family Business, Social and Corporate Entrepreneurship. Alongside studying the theory of entrepreneurship in France, China and the US, you willl apply your classroom learning through a number of start-up projects for local companies in each country, giving you a practical and cultural awareness of entrepreneurship around the world. You also have the opportunity to network with many exceptional entrepreneurs who have made a distinctive impact on society throughout the entire program.

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