NEXO Program: Empowering Local Suppliers for Sustainable Growth

September 25, 2023 by Sarah Tesla

Entrepreneurs and small businesses succeed when a network of stakeholders comes together to support their growth. This is the heart of NEXO, a small business capacity-building program fostering the development and sustainability of local suppliers, enabling them to tap into competitive business opportunities.  

To date, the Lundin Foundation has successfully implemented the NEXO program in Ecuador and Guatemala, earning recognition from international institutions such as the United Nations Global Compact – Ecuador. These achievements underscore our commitment to empowering local suppliers and fostering sustainable growth within the communities we serve. 

The multifaceted NEXO program encompasses a variety of objectives, some tailored to developing mining industry value chain alliances and others focused on business operations development. 

Among the functional objectives of the NEXO program is facilitating informed decision-making regarding investments in local business ventures that fall within a mining project’s direct area of influence. These ventures, typically in the incubation or acceleration phase, are strategically chosen for their long-term sustainability. Additionally, the Foundation aims to craft market-based solutions that invigorate the local economy, enhance competitiveness, foster small business growth, generate employment opportunities, and elevate the quality of life within community spheres of influence.  

A successful example includes SMERA, a fire extinguisher maintenance and recharging service in rural Ecuador. The Lundin Foundation and Lundin Gold began a joint effort to determine which products and services will boost regional economic growth for small businesses that are both technically and financially viable. One of these identified opportunities is SMERA developed from a process of technical and financial studies.  

SMERA launched its business by providing services to Lundin Gold’s Fruta del Norte mine in early 2022, and the business relationship with Lundin Gold has been developing progressively. The company received non-reimbursable seed capital to start activities, training and technical education and support with business and governance practices — essential components to ensure the long-term sustainability of SMERA.  

More than a year after the company’s creation, SMERA’s employees are 70% women with professional roles at all levels — from partners to operators. The company recently invested in a mobile workshop and is growing its client base to provide services to other local companies apart from Lundin Gold.   

For more examples of how NEXO is making an impact, this short documentary features three companies, SMERA, ASERFUN and OSBRA, operating in Ecuador.

NEXO’s success is based on a collaborative effort closely coordinated with our corporate partners where knowledge transfer takes center stage through comprehensive training, technical assistance, and financial support, including seed capital and access to long-term financing to ensure sustained growth. 

Operationally, the NEXO program is guided by four key objectives: 

  1. Expand and Consolidate Business Opportunities: We provide local companies with up-to-date, easily accessible information about mining companies’ purchasing requirements, supplier qualification processes, and future tender opportunities, among other crucial insights.
  2. Tailored Cross-Cutting Business Advice: Our program offers specific advice tailored to the evolving training needs identified within the local business community.
  3. Reduce Barriers to Access Financing: We assist and guide local businesses in accessing vital financial resources, including providing non-reimbursable seed capital and support to attain commercial loans.
  4. Strengthening Local Business Fabric: As an integral part of our mission, we work diligently to fortify the business ecosystem within the mining project’s sphere of influence.

The NEXO program is a testament to the transformative power of collaboration, knowledge sharing, and sustainable development. The Lundin Foundation continues to focus on programs that help unlock the full potential of local suppliers, forging a path towards a brighter, more prosperous future for all stakeholders involved. Together, we build stronger, more resilient communities and drive sustainable economic growth.