Fellow Since 1998
SOCSAL - Asoc. Civil Servicio de Apoyo Local
This profile was prepared when Mireya Vargas was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
Mireya Vargas created the Service for Local Support to help stimulate and strengthen local development work and encourage long-term sustainability initiatives, provide direct technical services, and strengthen civil society more generally. It is the first nonprofit training and management entity of its kind in Venezuela, and it now serves over 400 nongovernmental organizations per year, mostly concentrated in five northern states of the country. Approximately 100 new organizations are added to the network each year. To advance the Service's work, Mireya has recruited a professional staff and developed state-of-the art research services to complement the hands-on work at the grassroots level.The Service's client base runs the gamut of the Venezuelan citizen sector–from the very smallest community-based start-ups to the largest and most established nongovernmental organizations in the country. To each client, the Service provides consulting services and assistance in designing long-term strategies for sustainability. It also acts as a liaison between the government and private sectors to help attract additional funding for projects. Though many of these services appear commonplace–even mundane to "first-world" eyes--they are revolutionary in a nation and society that have long ignored the citizen sector.Since the Service's inception, it has played a leading role in building public/private partnerships in Venezuela. It enjoys the support of the nationalized Venezuelan oil company, among other companies, and has long been the In-Country Service organization for the Inter-American Foundation. Seizing upon this recognition, Mireya is now creating the long-term mechanisms that can guarantee the continued strengthening of the Venezuelan citizen sector and ensure that the Service remains the leader in direct support of the nonprofit community. Her biggest remaining goal is to systematize and spread sustainability mechanisms throughout the citizen sector, particularly in the eastern states of Venezuela, where it is presently least developed.