The South American country of Ecuador may be well known for its tropical beauty, vibrant culture and market-friendly policies. But something not so well known: the country is a hotspot for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). There are nearly 5,000 registered NGOs in Ecuador, and hundreds more private charities and nonprofit organizations dedicated to feeding the hungry, pulling people out of poverty, protecting the environment and groups dedicated to animal conservation because of its variety of natural resources, etc.
SEE ALSO: SAS Corporation Ecuador
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What purpose do NGOs in Ecuador serve?
Successive governments in Ecuador have had limited progress in helping their most vulnerable citizens; local and foreign NGOs have popped up in recent years to succeed where authorities have failed.
The aims of NGOs, charities, civil society organizations, religious groups and a mish-mash of volunteer groups varies, but some of their causes include:
- Feeding people suffering from severe hunger
- Eradicating child malnutrition
- Childhood education programs for at-risk youth
- Women’s empowerment initiatives
- Programs to help poor farmers
- Support the rights of Indigenous communities
- Support groups for survivors of sexual/gender violence
- Protect the Ecuadorian rainforest
- Marine wildlife conservation in the Galapagos Islands
- Animal conservation programs in the Amazon
In 2017, former President Lenin Moreno did away with the restrictions imposed by the previous administration, and made the process of incorporating NGOs in Ecuador easier. The current administration of Guillermo Lasso has also been supportive of NGOs in Ecuador, and laid out clear guidelines for incorporation, including registering the NGO with Ecuador’s Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion.
The helping hand given by NGOs in Ecuador
In the face of economic hardship, NGOs in Ecuador have become a kind of unofficial social safety net for impoverished communities. As such, these NGOs and social organizations can be credited with:
- Helping people meet their basic nutritional needs
- Coordinating sustainable development initiatives in rural areas
- Ensuring that poor communities have access to clean drinking water
- Launching dozens of local recycling campaigns around the country
- Empowering single mothers and women from low-income backgrounds
- Running children’s meal programs, and childhood education
- Helping preserve the Galapagos Islands ecosystem and endangered animals
- Rehabilitating trafficked animals
- Help curb the rampant deforestation in the country
- Raised millions of dollars in donations, and funding to finance these types of projects.
Opening an NGO in Ecuador: An updated 6-step guide
What follows are the six steps an organization needs to take in order to establish an NGO, foundation or social welfare organization in Ecuador (updated for 2023):
- Select and register a name – The organization must first apply for and receive the approval of your NGO’s name and mission, and this must be done at the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion, or the Ministry of Environmental Protection, depending on the type of NGO it will be (social or environmental in focus).
- Provide details about the NGO’s founders – The meeting minutes of the General Constituent Assembly, including attendance and statements made by the founders of the social organization must be submitted.
- Provide copies of the NGO’s Charter – Providing two hard copies of this document is necessary.
- Submit an Affidavit – That outlines specifically where the NGO’s finances will be coming from. This document must be signed by all the organization’s founders.
- Four-year operational plan – the NGO must present its operational plan (POP) to the competent authorities, in which it will detail the information of who finances it, how many people it will hire and what its projected activities will be for 4 years.
- Request for no objection to the ministry – The NGO must send its operational plan to the ministry where its work is concentrated (for example: a natural conservation NGO must submit a request to the Ministry of the Environment). The ministry will review the planned activities and issue a certificate of no objection to the NGO. This document is essential to be able to form the entity.
Additionally, the applicant must be very clear about the purpose of the NGO, how the social services provided by the organization impact marginalized and/or poor communities. It’s best to hire a local expert, in this case an Ecuadorian attorney, to handle all the paperwork and processing on the NGO’s behalf, and to ensure that the requirements for the opening of an NGO have been met.
As a matter of procedure, the formally submitted application to open an NGO in Ecuador takes between 4 and 6 months to process and receive approval from the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion and/or Ministry of Environmental Protection.
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The information provided here within should not be construed as formal guidance or advice. Please consult a professional for your specific situation. Information provided is for informative purposes only and may not capture all pertinent laws, standards, and best practices. The regulatory landscape is continually evolving; information mentioned may be outdated and/or could undergo changes. The interpretations presented are not official. Some sections are based on the interpretations or views of relevant authorities, but we cannot ensure that these perspectives will be supported in all professional settings.