This program is organized by DukeEngage faculty/staff in collaboration with DukeEngage.

Program Dates

May 31 - July 31

Service Focus

Collaborating with NGOs to develop and improve employment opportunities and micro-businesses in local communities. 

Program Leader

, Assistant Director, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Duke University 

Sebastian Bowen, Site Coordinator; former Director, Techo (Chilean NGO)

Program Scope

Even though Chile has one of the most successful and stable economies in Latin America, the distribution of income is one of the most unequal on the continent. This has led to a number of interesting consequences: a high level of emigration from Andean nations to Chile due to economic opportunity and domestically, a greater awareness of social and economic inequities. An innovative approach to redress income disparities is to provide education and resources to people to allow them to create their own small businesses, raise their standard of living, and contribute to sustainable economic growth at the local level. Duke students have a unique opportunity to work with a group of NGOs dedicated to poverty alleviation via business education, one on one economic strategy consulting, and connecting local residents to micro-finance opportunities. 

Students will be placed with Fundación Trabajo Para Un Hermano, which has been in operation for 31 years and now has centers in 23 of the poorest communities in the Santiago metropolitan area.  Their primary mission is to educate, promote, and advise men and women in conditions of poverty on how to develop sustainable employment opportunities with dignity. Through workshops, one on one coaching, business education, technology training, and networking micro-entrepreneurs are given the skills necessary to find work or create their own small businesses. Students will work one on one with 2-3 microentrepreneurs, lead workshops and develop curriculum models, and assist the NGO with marketing and data projects.

This NGO has a religious foundation and some employees have strong faiths and ties to Catholic organizations in Chile. It is important to understand this and respect how these spiritual foundations inform goals and projects. Nevertheless, this NGO will have no prejudice or discrimination against other faiths or secular beliefs of the volunteers who will be working with them.   

Past student projects (which has included work with additional NGOs previously) have included:

• Analyzing the business model of social enterprises and developing a business plan to create a laundry service that employs persons with disabilities

• Creating curriculum materials for courses on production, marketing, and accounting

• Developing business directories

• Local neighborhood market analysis

• Organizing alumni reunions for micro-entrepreneurs

• Web site development for the NGOs and micro-entrepreneurs

• Groundwork for the creation of an e-marketplace for new businesses

• Database of best practices

• Managing a series of guest lectures for new micro-entrepreneurs

• Evaluating the impact of consulting services for small business clients

• International grant writing

• Creating mini-documentaries and marketing videos for micro-entrepreneurs

• Documenting oral histories and testimonies

• Establishing a support group for women micro-entrepreneurs 

Service Opportunities

Projects and opportunities will be developed throughout the academic year as we match student skills to the the NGO's needs. There is substantial room for creativity and innovation on the part of volunteers. 

Fundación Trabajo Para Un Hermano 


Program Requirements & Logistics

Language/Other Prerequisites: Intermediate to advanced Spanish language proficiency is required to participate in this program. Spanish proficiency will be tested during the program interview and students are encouraged to take classes and attend language labs during the spring semester prior to departure for Chile. If you are unsure of your Spanish proficiency students are strongly encouraged to meet with the Program Director prior to applying.

Course Requirements: There are no course requirements for this program. However, students with coursework in social entrepreneurship, graphic design, Latin American politics and history, Spanish, accounting, marketing, anthropology, journalism, photography, education, etc. may have certain skill sets that make them stronger candidates for this program. You do not need to have a background in economics to be a successful applicant!

Other technical skills and requirements: The following technical (and non-technical) skills will be very useful: web design, photography, graphic design (InDesign or other programs), marketing, teaching experience, accounting, Excel, PowerPoint, film editing, journalism, grant writing, interviewing or other types of anthropological fieldwork, social media, database management, etc. At this time no drug tests or background checks are required. 

Personal Competencies: During your interview we will ask you a series of hypothetical questions that should reveal aspects of your personality and your character. Be yourself, don’t be afraid to express your true personality, don’t be afraid to question civic engagement models or ask about critiques you may have heard from former participants. Here are a few important things to keep in mind about this program. Expectations about the impact you can have on communities in Chile in a two-month period need to be realistic. You most likely will not apply high-level economic theories or business ideas you learned in courses at Duke or at an internship at an international bank over the summer. “Consulting” one-on-one with micro-entrepreneurs requires lots of flexibility in your schedule, last minute changes to plans, cell phone numbers that might not work, and is more about developing relationships and trust that imparting some great knowledge. Honoring commitments is so important—especially when you make a commitment to a micro-entrepreneur with whom you are working. Taking time to get to know them and their families, not just arriving with a list of ideas you think with make their business more efficient. Listening to your supervisors and co-workers because they have tons of experience. If you must have a strict work schedule and don’t care for spontaneity, you may become frustrated working within a Latin American NGO.  Finally, since this is truly a group program, a successful applicant should be mature enough to put any trivial differences with fellow participants aside for the good of the program. A good sense of humor goes a long way! Remember that you are representing Duke and the United States while abroad and the future of our collaborations with these community partners and host families depends on your actions during these two months. 

Reflection Sessions: Reflection sessions will be held once per week. A full schedule of required meetings will be passed out before students arrive in Chile.  

Neighborhood: Volunteer placements will be located throughout Santiago at NGO headquarters, satellite centers, and micro-entrepreneur’s businesses and homes. Students will be accompanied by program directors and an NGO supervisor the first few times they visit these communities to learn the metro and bus systems. Some of these communities have higher rates of theft and petty crimes at night and we will monitor this to make sure students work in pairs if they must be traveling late at night. 

Housing and Accommodations: Students will be living with host families in Santiago. Many of the host families that have participated in our program since 2009 will host students again. In Santiago, the home-stay neighborhood locations include: Nunoa, Santiago Centro, and Providencia. Host families will provide breakfast and dinner, the use of a laundry facility (usually not a dryer), and a private room for each student. Many families have internet access. The DukeEngage in Chile program makes every effort to find families that understand the program, enjoy the cultural exchange, and allow enough flexibility for students to explore Santiago with their friends. June and July are winter months in Chile and most homes do not have central heating. Students should plan to bring many layers of warm clothes and waterproof boots. 

Meals: Home-stay families will be asked to provide breakfast and dinner for students each day. This does not require that every meal be shared with the home-stay families. Students will be given a stipend for lunches and other meals/snacks.  There are plenty of very inexpensive places to eat near the volunteer centers and students are asked to inform home-stay families when they will not be home for meals. Fundación Trabajo Para Un Hermano provides lunch and has a requirement that all employees eat together and not bring in their own food. Stipends will be worked out according to these different setups. 

Communication: Each student will be provided with a cell phone and stipend for purchasing minutes in Chile. Students are encouraged (possibly required) to bring laptops and the majority of the home-stay families will have internet access. *Please check with your insurance companies to see if your laptops might be covered while abroad. The volunteer centers also have Internet access that may be used for personal communication only with permission from the center directors.  Finally, there are Internet cafes and calling centers throughout the city.  Each home-stay family also has cell phones and/or land lines.  It is possible to bring a smart phone from the U.S. if it is unblocked and use a chip from Chile for local phone service. 

Transportation: Students will be provided a transportation stipend to be used for travel between their homes and volunteer placements. Students will use a combination of metro, buses, and taxis during the week. Students are asked to pay for their own transportation for entertainment.  During group excursions, we will either hire a van for group transport or the cost of transportation will be paid by the program director.  

Volunteer Placement Logistics: Every effort is made to match student skills to the needs of the NGO and place students where they will be able to make the best use of their language and other intellectual and inter-personal skills. Placement open-mindedness is strongly encouraged. No student will be placed singly with a community partner or work alone at any of the satellite offices of our partner. (Most will be in groups of two).

Opportunities for Autonomy / Private Space: A complete schedule of group enrichment activities, required group meals and individual meetings with directors will be passed out to students before they arrive in Chile.  (some flexibility will be asked as we inevitably confront cancelations or other complications).  Students will be expected to participate in all of these group events as well as the individual meetings. Students are also expected to work 45 hours per week minimum for our partner NGO but most likely will have evening and weekend projects with their respective micro-entrepreneurs. There will be two free weekends set-aside during the 2-month program. (One three days, the other two days) Students are allowed to travel within Chile as long as the destinations are safe and with prior consultation and approval from the program director (at least 4 days prior notice including where you will be traveling, mode of transportation, where you are staying, contact numbers, etc.)  NOTE: Travel to Easter Island is not allowed during this DukeEngage program. Student are also responsible for letting their supervisors know when we have a group event that takes place during work time or a free weekend. 

Suggested Readings/Viewings: Chilean newspapers, micro-finance case studies, NGO websites for this program. (Email program director for more suggestions).  Films: Machuca, No, The Battle for Chile, The Maid, Palomita Blanca, Salvador Allende.