Social Entrepreneurship Internship Social Entrepreneurship Internship Tena, Ecuador Runa Foundation Non-profit | Runa Foundation
Work with local communities in the field to research supply chain development, markets, and processing capabilities for new Amazonian agroforestry products.

Project Details

Runa Foundation works to create new value for tropical forest that benefit local people and the forest ecosystem.

Runa Foundation operates in the Napo region of the Ecuadorian Amazon, about 4 hours East from the capital city of Quito, as well as one project in the Andean highlands, 2 hours North of Quito.  Runa Foundation works with indigenous communities to mitigate the effects of climate change, foster biodiversity conservation, and improve livelihoods by creating new value for forest products and increasing access to local and international markets. Building on existing local knowledge, Runa gives farmers the tools to maintain biodiverse agroforestry systems instead of conventional, mono-crop systems, while simultaneously increasing the economic stability of indigenous families and incentivizing sustainable production techniques.

Interns are invited to support our organization and/or conduct research in a number of areas related to forest conservation, biodiversity, community development, sustainable development, and social entrepreneurship. Working with our dynamic NGO, indigenous communities, and other researchers and consultants, you have the opportunity to support participatory community development and conservation projects and expand a new, green industry in Ecuador that is already receiving national and international attention.

Our organization provides direct market access, agroforestry training, and holistic development services to local indigenous Amazonian farming families, by leveraging Fair Trade partnerships to create sustainable social change. With a network of over 2,500 farming families, a 10-person staff, and a diverse network of advisors and consultants, our well-known organization is pioneering a social enterprise model that has the potential to transform local Ecuadorian economies and provide sustainable livelihoods for local people, while preserving the rainforest.

We have already planted over 1.2 million guayusa trees (a holly tree native to the Ecuadorian Amazon) and currently work with over 200 indigenous communities to develop new livelihood opportunities that enable families to increase their income while conserving their forests. Through the organization, farmers have an avenue to sell culturally significant, environmentally friendly, and economically valuable species, greatly reducing the need for farmers to degrade the protected primary forests they live beside. Through their collaboration with our NGO and Fair Trade, farmers learn conservation tactics as well as the skills they need to sustainably produce and sell certified native products – creating a system that is mutually beneficial to the local people and the forest.

You will be able to work together with locals in the Amazon, helping with hands-on conservation and forest management, and to build a new industry and commercial structure for guayusa and other non-timber forest products, learning from a pioneering social enterprise that has the potential to transform the way that indigenous people interact with the international economy

This is an opportunity for motivated, enthusiastic, and adventurous interns to work in the Amazon rainforest and help support the growth of a budding social enterprise with a unique social and environmental mission. You will have the chance to participate in groundbreaking research and innovative projects in a range of areas which are essential for the growth and development of guayusa and the local communities. This work is highly dynamic, field-based, collaborative, and exciting.

More benefits of this internship include:

  • Work closely with staff experienced in forest conservation, agroforestry, agronomy, participatory community development, social entrepreneurship, and marketing/communications.
  • Hands-on experience in all of the above plus agriculture, landscape management, organic certifications, Fair Trade certification, indigenous rights, climate change mitigation, biodiversity monitoring, women’s empowerment, grant writing, and online marketing/media.
  • Numerous research & dissertation opportunities available if requested, including Agricultural Economics, Social Entrepreneurship, Forest Conservation, Climate Change mitigation, Environmental Education, Agroforestry, Community Development, Indigenous Cultures, Gender Rights, and more.
  • Participate in and help develop cultural exchange events including ecotourism, farm to table Amazonian forest foods meals, and guayusa tea ceremonies.


In more detail, Runa Foundation's programs include the following areas:

Landscapes Program – This program looks at the intersection between agriculture, forestry, and conservation using a holistic landscape approach. Runa Foundation focuses particularly on the use of agroforestry and sustainable forest management. as tools to conserve biodiversity and natural ecosystems. This program also includes projects related to reforestation, wildlife management, GIS mapping, territorial mapping, and assuring indigenous land rights. 

Livelihoods Program – This program focuses on improving the livelihoods of local people through income generation, capacity building workshops, and financial literacy training. This program specifically targets farmers associations or cooperatives to support them in Fair Trade certification.

Plant Research – Runa Foundation works with indigenous groups in the Amazon to document and research their vast knowledge of medicinal plants Runa Foundation has also helped to support the creation of PlantMed.Org dedicated to the creation of Amazonian research clinics in the Peruvian and Ecuadorian Amazon.

Education – Runa Foundation provides educational opportunities for anyone interested in social entrepreneurship, environmental conservation, and sustainable participatory community development through its internship program. Runa Foundation has partnered with the Universidad San Francisco de Quito and the Yale School of Forestry to conduct ongoing research related to forest conservation and agroforestry management. 

The main focus of the project is on
NPO Status
Yes, registered non-profit organization
Contact Person
Michaela D'Amico
Spoken Languages
French
Spanish
English

Social Impact

In 2016, Runa Foundation partnered with 235 indigenous communities, implementing projects, generating income, and improving livelihoods for over 2,800 farming families.

WE. . .

. . . Generated $242,733 of revenue from Organic, Fair Trade Gauyusa Tea for indigenous farming families.

. . . paid an additional $36,409 to Fair Trade Certified Farming Cooperatives as a Social Premium, working with farmers to invest those funds in their communities.

. . . contributed $389,717 to indigenous enterprises, producer groups, and community-based organizations. 

Since the beginning of our work in 2009...

123,600 native trees supplied to farmers for reforestation and improved agroforestry systems

1.2 million guayusa trees have been planted

6,614 Hectares Placed under agroforestry & sustainable management systems

$939,551.87Revenue generated for indigenous families through direct sales of Amazonian NTFPs

Women in leadership positions has grown from 11% to 38%

Pursued Sustainable Development Goals

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