About Spes Nova - Supporting Global Artisans

Spes Nova, meaning “New Hope” in Latin, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose mission is to help establish sustainable and inclusive development in the poorest regions of the world by collaborating with an extensive global network of academic institutions. The organization is built upon its proprietary Three Pillar Approach to economic development: market development, micro-credit, and micro-insurance.

While donations and aid are both welcomed and needed in undeserved communities, sustained and scalable improvements in income and living standards require new approaches to development that instill dignity and independence. Entrepreneurship is a potential key. However, many organizations seeking to assist these budding business owners, unintentially create more harm. Such schemes include expensive microfinancing that results in a cycle of debt, purchasing products then not returning, providing equipment but no training or maintence. The list goes on.  

Leading economists and development experts have carefully crafted Spes Nova’s model to create a new form of development that addresses these pitfalls. We identify and build relationships with global artisans in low-income areas through our network of reputable, mission-driven universities worldwide. We can strengthen these artisans’ businesses by providing interest free pre-production loans, product design assistance, and access to new markets on an ongoing basis. This process allows the businesses to develop, providing sustainable employment and income for the artisans, their families, and their communities.

Buy purchasing a product or providing a loan on our site, you are contributing to a positive cycle of growth and prosperity!

Three Pillar Approach

Spes Nova's proprietary model to development aims to alleviate poverty in some of the poorest regions of the world by offering local artisans access to capital, robust markets, and insurance products:


Academic institutions in the Spes Nova network analyze market trends and order products from artisans, which creates the immediate need for pre-production funding (working capital, funds to pay raw materials, and additional labor, among others). In general, local artisans rely on shark lenders, pawn loan providers, or microfinance institutions (MFIs) that charge them high-interest rates (typically between 20 to 40% per year). To help artisans reduce these financial costs, Spes Nova created a crowdsourcing section of this website, allowing consumers like you to sponsor small pre-production loans by selecting local artisans from the Spes Nova database. In addition, many partner universities raise funds for an initial purchase from our artisans, and then use the net earnings from sales to repurchase more products. 

Market Development

Many artisans and craftsmen in developing countries face limited consumers in their local markets and/or rely on tourism (which can be unpredictable - especially in a world with pandemics). Through its e-commerce site, Spes Nova provides a platform for these producers to access the global marketplace. Students and faculty at our partner institutions around the globe utilize market-research tools to assist artisans with product design, quality control, cost analysis, pricing, and environmentally friendly production. When products are finalized and recieved by the US university, they are then uploaded to this site...where they meet their future owner!


The world's poorest regions are not only some of the most vulnerable to catastrophic events but also the least protected by insurance. The working poor is exposed to natural perils (such as hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes) that can simultaneously wipe out all their assets (housing, clothing, and personal possessions) and their means for making a living. At Spes Nova, we don't want to see our artisans, or any small-scaled business owner, work so hard building an enterprise for it to disappear overnight. That is why we are preparing low-cost insurance products to protect their hardwork and those of others in their region. 

These three approaches are mutually supportive, and when put together, provide a sustainable, inclusive path towards prosperity for the working poor.

Spes Nova Corporate

Erick Rengifo

Erick Rengifo Co-Founder, ED

Erick Rengifo is an associate professor in the Economics Department at Fordham University. He is a co-founder of Spes Nova Inc, a non-profit corporation whose main goals are to provide funding to microenterprises, assist in market creation, and provide insurance products for the working poor worldwide. He is also the founder and director of the Center for International Policy Studies and an active scholar interested in market development, microfinance, micro-insurance, market microstructure, behavioral finance, risk management, insurance, and econometrics.

Professor Rengifo is a private consultant in algorithmic trading, investments, risk management, microfinance, and micro-insurance. He holds a Ph.D. in economics with a concentration in finance and econometrics from the Catholic University of Louvain-Belgium.

Steve Carlsen

Steve Carlsen Co-Founder

Steve Carlsen is a co-founder of Spes Nova and continues to serve as a Director. Steve has a 35-year career in the insurance and reinsurance industries, specializing in underwriting, pricing, and managing catastrophic risk. He was an early developer of capital consumption models by applying modern portfolio theory to insurable risk. Steve Carlsen was a co-founder of Endurance Specialty Holdings (ENH), where he continues to serve as a Director and member of its Risk and Finance Committees. He also provides consulting services to private equity groups and hedge funds investing in the insurance and insurance services sectors. Steve has an undergraduate degree in Mathematics from Cornell University and received his Ph.D. in Economics from Fordham University in May 2013.

Dana Nelson

Dana Nelson Strategic Advisor

Dana Nelson is an experienced researcher and practitioner in corporate responsibility, human rights advocacy, and sustainable development. In addition to running Spes Nova, she serves as a social impact consultant for a large-scale investment firm. She was previously sponsored by USAID to serve on the social compliance team of Ethical Apparel Africa in Ghana. She also served as a strategy and investment analyst for Equivico,  a woman-owned investment management firm focused on expanding access to capital for underserved entrepreneurs. 

She holds a B.A. in International Political Economy from Fordham University, where she served as President of Students for Fair Trade and the Strategic Lead for Spes Nova from 2015 to 2018. She also holds a Master’s Degree from the internationally recognized Center of Development Studies at The University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

Fordham University Team Members


Abdi is currently studying in the graduate program in International Political Economy and Development at Fordham University. As an undergraduate, Abdi double majored in Applied Mathematics and Economics with a minor is Data Science. He worked as a research assistant for over 2 years. 


Andres Montoya Public Relations

Andres Montoya is a first year student at the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University. He is planning on majoring in Business Administration and minoring in Sustainability. Andres believes that the sustainable and ethical sourcing of materials is not only important, but essential for the continuation of all business. During his time at Spes Nova he hopes to learn more about what it means to practice business responsibly, and looks forward to helping Spes Nova in its mission.


Gurbax Assie Finance

Hey, I am Gurbax, and I am the President of Finance here at SpesNova. I am a sophomore studying at the Gabelli School of Business and I have been a part of Spes Nova for over a year. My values perfectly align with SpesNova as I love to both give beck to society and I have a passion for art. SpesNova enables me to do both in a meaningful way!


Kaitlyn Squyres Social Media and Graphic Design

Kaitlyn Squyres is a second-year student at Fordham University. She has a passion for sustainability and for improving the lives of children. Kaitlyn has worked as a graphic designer with Mercy Academy’s Catholic Relief Services Club and is excited to use her skills to support Spes Nova’s mission. At Fordham, she is also involved with Girls Who Code, Fostering Futures, and Campus Ministry.


Natalie Kamble Sales Associate

Natalie Kamble is a current Junior majoring in Business Administration with Management at Fordham University's Gabelli School of Business. Natalie is interested in business because she wants to understand the innovative ideas that go into making a product or service, which eventually change people’s lives. On campus, Natalie involves in Commuting Student Association as a Marketing Coordinator for the Class of 2025, library aide for Fordham’s Walsh Library, and ASCEND’s club member. Off-campus, Natalie volunteers as a swim aide to teach disabled kids to learn to swim and volunteers as a Host at her church. With these experiences and skills, Natalie hopes to support Spes Nova’s mission of not only helping artisans for a short time but for artisans to have an inclusive bond with the Spes Nova family forever.


Sukhmani Kaur Co-Social Media Manager

Sukhmani Kaur is a second-year student at Fordham University planning to major in
Finance. Sukhmani strives to support Spes Nova’s mission, as sustainability is essential in her
life. In the past, she was a volunteer ambassador at Liberty Science Center, where she promoted
science and positivity to everyone. She hopes to spread the message of what Spes Nova is around
the Fordham community and even further beyond as a social media manager. At Fordham, she is
involved in Smart Woman Securities, The Women’s Network, and the South Asian Student


Carlota Rahola Co-President and Account Manager

Carlota, a current Junior at Fordham College at Rose Hill, is pursuing a double major in International Studies and New Media and Digital Design. Over the past two years, she has actively contributed to Spes Nova as an Account Manager. Her passions lie at the intersection of business and humanitarianism, focusing on aiding the global economy and developing nations.

At Fordham, she also serves as the President of the Self-Defense Club and is part of the alum relations committee at Fordham Marketing Association, USG Sustainability, and USG International Integration. With her past experiences and skills, Carlota aspires to make a meaningful impact in advancing Spes Nova's mission and supporting the artisans and non-profits associated with the organization.

Juliana Tulio photo

Juliana Tulio Co-President & Global Account Manager for Columbia

Juliana Tulio is a second-year student at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business with an intended major in marketing. She is so excited to serve as this year's Spes Nova Sales and Events Manager! Juliana loves Spes Nova’s mission and wants to continue gaining support for the organization’s international artisan partners! 


Natasha Tretter Co-President and Inventory Manager

Natasha Tretter is a second-year student at Fordham University at Fordham College of Rose Hill. Natasha hopes to further educate herself on what it means to be a non-profit organization. She looks forward to learning more about the Three Pillar Approach and how its core structure aids in the relationships and partnerships Spes Nova has around the world. At Fordham, she is involved in Humanitarian Student Union, United Student Government’s committee, Diversity Action Coalition or DAC, and in the Center For Community-Engaged Learning. Natasha is looking forward to her first year with Spes Nova as an Inventory Manager.

St. Thomas Aquinas College Team Members

Desiree Bermudez

Desiree Bermudez / Team Member


Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali Team Members

Father Luis Felipe Gómez

Father Luis Felipe Gómez Director of Javeriana Cali University

Father Luis Felipe Gómez Restrepo S.J. is a lawyer with a master's degree in Economic and Business Sciences, a philosopher from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, and a theologian from the Sèvres Center of the Society of Jesus in Paris. He has been a teacher at the 2 Javeriana campuses and three other universities. He was also dean of the Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences of Javeriana Cali.

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Fabián Fernando Osorio Tinoco Dean - Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences of Javeriana Cali University

Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana sectional Cali. D. in Administration. He has been director of the Department of Organizational Management of the same faculty and director of the Center for Consulting and Continuing Education of the university. As a Senior Researcher of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation of Colombia, his research focuses on Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Strategic Marketing. He is currently part of the International Network on Global Entrepreneurship Research, Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM Colombia) and has published numerous books on innovation and entrepreneurship and his most recent articles have been published in international journals such as Management Decisions, Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies, among others. Professor in graduate courses in Organizational and Management Theory, Innovation and Value Creation, Product development and Branding; and in doctoral seminars in Entrepreneurship, and Innovation Management.

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Ricardo Castaño Robledo Management Department Director - Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences of Javeriana Cali University

Department Director. Doctoral candidate in Economics, Master in Economics and Management Sciences, MBA and postgraduate degree in Marketing. He has worked as a professional in International Market Intelligence in alliance between the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and Proexport (now Procolombia). He has worked in marketing and sales areas in companies of commerce, telecommunications and vehicles. He is currently a professor, consultant and researcher in marketing issues within the Department of Organizational Management.

He has experience in business consulting supporting the design of local and international marketing plans with SMEs; he participated in the design and implementation of the Mercatería consumer laboratory, and has academically coordinated the Marketing area in the Department of Organizational Management. Her scientific research interests focus on consumer behavior in physical stores and using digital media.

María Del Pilar Gómez Vallejo

María del Pilar Gómez Vallejo Spes Nova project Leader of Javeriana Cali University

Master in Education: Human Development, from the University of San Buenaventura Cali, Specialist in Environmental Management and Sustainable Development from the University Santiago de Cali and Business Administrator from the University San Buenaventura of Cali. She is a certified Coach in Emotional Intelligence, the use of the diagnostic tool Disc, for human management processes and Change Management with Kotler's methodology. She has been director (E) of the Department of Organizational Management and director of the Department of Accounting and Finance. She has had extensive academic experience at the University of San Buenaventura Cali and the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali in the Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences since 1999, in management and entrepreneurship. Research professor in the area of Education in Entrepreneurship and Management Skills. Author of the book Mentalidad Emprendedora (Entrepreneurial Mentality). Expert in active teaching-learning methodologies (AC, POL, EC), she directs undergraduate work of the Faculty's master's degree programs in case studies that she continues to develop and publish them in specialized case study journals, such as SCR or JCRI. He is a member of the International Network of Jesuit Universities, IGNITED. She leads the Interinstitutional Project of Fair Trade SPES NOVA Javeriana Cali in alliance with Fordham University NY.

Valentina Padilla Calvo

Valentina Padilla Calvo Spes Nova project assistant of Javeriana Cali University

Valentina Padilla is a fifth semester student of international business at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali. She is also a representative ultimate athlete, which has allowed her to develop communication skills, responsibility and leadership.

Despite being the first work experience within the university, one of her main interests is learning about international economics, bio-economy models and circular economy that favors the growth of agricultural and industrial competitiveness without neglecting the care of the environment and human values that support the development of society.

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Whitney Lozada Aguirre Spes Nova project assistant of Javeriana Cali University

Whitney Lozada is a current student of international business at the Javeriana Cali University and has a Technician in commercial accounting and financial operations. She is interested in learning about logistics and also about the global economy and how to improve without leaving aside social responsibility. Being part of Spes Nova fits perfectly with her beliefs and values of contributing to a more sustainable world. Within Spes Nova she seeks to support the welfare of people, acquire new experiences that she can use to benefit the most vulnerable people and learn from others through teamwork, while strengthening her professional life.

ITESO - Universidad Jesuita de Guadalajara


Sofia Ruy Sanchez Rodriguez

Sofia is in her last year of the Global Trade and Business major. She sees herself in the logistics or purchasing areas after graduating. Sofía has studied abroad twice, in the US and Slovakia, and this has helped her to become more empathetic and grow as a person. What she likes the most about Spes Nova is its goal of spreading awareness about Mexican artisan´s capabilities and helping them to have a better quality of life through the sale of their products. She is very excited to be part of this project.


Alessandra Felix Rodriguez

AIessandra is a Global Trade and Business student at ITESO, she spent a semester studying abord on Almería, Spain and another in Vancouver, Canada, and plans to get a master´s degree in Business Psychology at the University of Barcelona. She will be a senior this December and is excited to work with Spes Nova and help artisans export their products and expand their portfolio of clients.


Brandon Alcala Perez

Brandon is currently a student of Global Trade and Business at ITESO. He is interested in logistics, supply chain, and consulting for his professional life. What he likes most about Spes Nova is having the opportunity to prove that he has the skills and knowledge to help others get involved in the global market. Brandon is glad to work with Spes Nova, for him it is a great opportunity to start getting involved in a real strategic planning project and he hopes to leave his mark on other people's lives.


Irlanda Barragan Horta

Irlanda is a Global Trade and Business student at ITESO, with a special interest in logistics, she plans on working in that area after graduating. She is currently working in the purchases area of a company. Having the opportunity to study abroad and visit different countries has made her appreciate the Mexican culture and traditions and want to share them with others. She is excited to be part of Spes Nova and be able to boost the economy of Mexican artisans who have the potential to export and share their art with other cultures.


Luz Elena Ochoa Lopez

Luz Elena is a Global Trade and Business student at ITESO. She is interested in logistics and is currently working at a foreign trade consulting firm. She had the opportunity to study in Hungary, which made her develop multicultural competencies and adaptability. She’s looking forward to positively impacting her community and helping share local artisans’ work through SPES NOVA’s project.

Josue Quezada

Josue Quezada Ramos

Josue is a currently an International Commerce and Business student at ITESO. His participation in different social-economy projects has made him aware of the global population necessities where he wants to have a positive impact.  He is currently working at IBM in international asset management. Josue is a passionate on innovation, he believes that to achieve a more sustainable way of living, as well as translating ideas into real-life projects with a responsible, equitable, and viable planned design we need it.

Alejandro Orendain

Alejandro Orendain Sánchez

Alejandro Orendain Sánchez is an undergraduate student in Industrial Engineering at ITESO. He is interested in manufacturing production lines, sales, international business but mostly in solving problems, organizing work processes, reducing waste, increasing efficiency and improving the end result.  Alejandro has worked in the tequila industry, acquiring experience in agriculture, production, and sales. He is currently working as sales director in a company that distributes construction material. Working with Spes Nova has given him better understanding of the process required to achieve and export, while working and learning from his teammates.

Carlos Riggen

Carlos Riggen Ramirez

Mr. Riggen is an associate professor in the Business School at ITESO, teaching International Business Consulting and as part of the PAP program, working with local companies and entrepreneurs for the development of their capacities for exporting.  His professional career in the private industry began in 1990 in companies of various types, always as head of the International Trade area. He is currently the Managing Partner of a consulting firm specializing in international business.  He holds an undergraduate degree in Industrial Engineering and a master’s degree in Global Marketing, both at ITESO.

Valeria Lucero

Carmen Valeria Lucero Higuera

Carmen Valeria Lucero Higuera is an undergraduate student in Marketing from ITESO. Her interests are in sustainable business, marketing research and in creative industry. She has experience in promotion in social media, sales, and market research. Being part of the Spes Nova project is a great opportunity to learn about sustainable products, marketing research and working with people and institutions of other countries that will help her grow professionally.