Precedent: Paso Pacifico

Over the past week, the studio as a collective has investigated 17 organizations that fit into the social entrepreneurship category.

My investigation focused primarily on Paso Pacifico. Paso Pacifico is a nonprofit based in California, but primarily active on the southwestern coast of Nicaragua. The following infographics both describe some of their more notable activities and accomplishments – and compare Paso Pacifico to another similar nonprofit in Madagascar: Ho Avy.




Paso Pacifico is a 401(c)3 nonprofit focused on reinstating the ecological integrity of the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, namely, the Paso del Istmo, a narrow ribbon of land between Lake Nicaragua and the Pacific Ocean. Paso Pacifico relies on the generosity of donors and donor organizations to provide the support it needs to revitalize and bring integrity back into the Paso del Istmo’s economy and natural environment – both marine and terrestrial. Research, species protection, education, and reforestation are primary to this venture and its purpose.

Comparison to Other Organizations

Compared to the other 17 organizations and businesses explored by the studio, Paso Pacifico is heavily driven by environmental protection and species preservation. No other organization has as pronounced and diverse activity in these areas.

Paso Pacifico is a leveraged nonprofit. Its funding comes from the generosity of outside sources. It does not create profit on its own, although it does train and empower women to run their own ecotourism businesses as “enviro-preneurs”. Some indirect profit comes from this sector, although that profit is isolated within particular seed businesses that resulted from Paso Pacifico’s efforts to support local environmentally friendly businesses that both support the local people and exposes locals – and tourists – to experiences that encourage them to understand, protect, and value their natural surroundings.

Paso Pacifico, in my opinion, is most like Barefoot College, another leveraged nonprofit. Via education and financial support, Barefoot College, based in India, educates impoverished populations so that they may empower themselves. They provide education, skill development, health, drinking water, electricity, and empower women through a model based largely on solar power as a foundation. Paso Pacifico also uplifts poorer populations also in many ways, via incentive programs, education, etc. Barefoot College has created a productive, lively, and capable workforce out of a population that many in the elite in India previously viewed as incapable and unremarkable. Yet via the support and opportunities provided by Barefoot College, some of the poorest people in India have accomplished some of the most amazing things, even those thought previously impossible, like installing the first hand pumps in a village 14,000 feet high in the Himalayas. Barefoot College students were able to accomplish this feat, although established engineers had previously described it as impossible. Similar things are happening via Paso Pacifico. In both cases, populations that were previously distrusted by the government or undervalued are now not only more productive and self-supporting… they are also creating better living conditions and supporting healthier, increasingly revitalized ecosystems.


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