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Ecuadorian Non‐Profit Organizations, Ecuador Foundations & American NGOs in Ecuador

Expats living in Ecuador will usually at some point along the way reflect upon the purpose of their lives and contributions to the greater good of Ecuadorian society, so as to make their own respective marks in the country, per their desire to improve the lives and futures of the native Ecuadorians whom they share this beautiful land with. As such, this article will venture to discuss how and in which way(s) foreigners can open Ecuadorian Nonprofits, either in the form of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Ecuador, or alternatively, as American NGOs in Ecuador (the latter type being specifically intended for US Citizens residing in Ecuador).

So as to create any foundation in Ecuador, you first need to apply for and receive the approval of your Ecuadorian foundation’s name and mission, and so this must be done at the Ministerio de Inclusión Económica y Social (MIES) and/or with the Ministerio del Ambiente (Ministry of Environmental Protection), depending on the stated plans as well as scope of your foundation’s intended projects and works, respectively. You as the applicant must be very clear about the purpose of your desired foundation, how the process of your provided social service will reach the community (i.e. if for example, you are going to teach classes, then you need to clearly state how and where this service will be performed), and what type of benefit this foundation will have or provide to/for the community. These are the primary factors that MIES and/or the Ministry of Environmental Protection will take into account so as to approve or disapprove of your project.

As a matter of procedures, the formally submitted application for a foundation takes from 10 to 30 days so as to be approved by MIES and/or the Ministry of Environmental Protection, whichever the applicable case may be, and your Ecuadorian Attorney on your behalf will handle the paperwork and process with respect to creating and complying with the main requirements for the opening of your Ecuador foundation, which are as follows (note that these have been simplified for purposes of referencing them briefly and to a generalized extent):

  1. Provide to MIES and/or the Ministry of Environmental Protection the formal application request(s) for opening or registering the foundation
  2. Provide the Minutes of the General Constituent Assembly (subscribed to by all the creators/founders of the foundation)
  3. Provide a Charter/Statute of the foundation (two copies of this document are necessary)
  4. Provide an Affidavit so as to accredit patrimony with regards to the foundation (signed by all the creators/founders of the foundation)

Aside from newly created Ecuadorian Non-Profit Organizations how stated above, American NGOs in Ecuador are yet another fine option for US Citizens living in Ecuador. This is of course where a foundation already exists in the US, and so as to be able to carry out its mission in Ecuador, the US foundation must duly register in Ecuador as a new Ecuadorian branch of the preexisting US foundation, or again alternatively, in recreating itself as a brand new Ecuadorian foundation – one of these two options is always required in any case, regardless of whether or not the foundation has/will have a separate US registration. Thus, so as to be perfectly clear as per the immediate above, a US Non-Profit does not absolutely need to set up a new Ecuadorian Foundation if that’s not specifically desired or deemed necessary by the creator(s) of it, but the US Non-Profit does absolutely need to properly register itself here in Ecuador as at least a general Non-Profit and can’t just operate as a Non-Profit without first properly registering in Ecuador.

As per each of the above-discussed options for opening or registering an Ecuadorian Foundation, note that just as with a business, company or other type organization which needs to be able to maintain and support itself, one must naturally also take into account the amount of initial capitalization/investment necessary to open their foundation, the number of paid employees they’ll need to begin and operate it, the costs and ways of administration and management, and even marketing needs to be considered so as to best attract prospective donors/volunteers whom enable and maintain the foundation’s future. In doing and planning ahead for these matters, that will permit and stimulate your foundation to grow and become a fixture in the principal area or place where it shall primarily operate, so as to in and of your original vision for same, continue to provide its good and heartfelt charitable deeds as well as responsible stewardship to and for the benefit of Ecuador and its people, even long after you’re gone.


Sara Chaca (Attorney ­‐ Abogada) is a seasoned Ecuadorian Lawyer, who principally serves Expats in making their moves to Ecuador, as well as for any legal issues that arise or become actionable for her Expat clients to undertake in their new lives here in her beautiful country. Sara resides in Cuenca with her family, which consists of her American husband and 2 daughters (as well as her parents and siblings), and when not working, she enjoys spending time with her family in Cuenca’s majestic Cajas Mountains and local parks & fairs of Cuenca, plus visiting the coast as well as the many gem towns of Ecuador. Sara’s personal email address is sara@ecuadorvisas.com, and her personal cell phone number is 099.296.2065. Sara has a less than 24 hour first response policy, in that if you email or call her, she WILL return your first email or first phone call in less than 24 hours (more typically closer to 24 minutes). Most importantly, all first time consultations with Expats for any type Visa or Legal matter(s) are always FREE OF CHARGE.