Eugenio Fernandez, founder of Asthenis, awarded inaugural $20K Kelly Fund Prize

Social Enterprise Greenhouse honored its former chief executive officer, Kelly Ramirez, last night and announced the creation of The Kelly Fund which will support efforts that enhance SEG’s mission. To date, the SEG board and members of the SEG senior team have raised nearly $120,000 for the fund. During the reception at Farm Fresh RI honoring Ramirez, the SEG board announced an inaugural $20,000 Kelly Fund Impact Prize to Eugenio Fernandez, the founder of Asthenis.

“SEG’s Board is thrilled to honor Kelly’s leadership by investing in our entrepreneurs to take their ventures to the next level. Eugenio is the quintessential social entrepreneur who’s vision, tenacity and acumen is a game-changer in healthcare,” said SEG co-chairs MJ Kaplan and Kathy Bendheim.

“I am so grateful to the many members of the SEG community who made the Kelly Fund a reality.  I am honored and humbled by their support. I am particularly excited to recognize the amazing work of Eugenio Fernandez and Asthenis with the first award from the Kelly Fund,” Ramirez said. “Eugenio embodies all the characteristics of a social entrepreneur that was the inspiration for the creation of SEG. His intellect, drive and commitment to giving back to the community is impressive and I am so happy that I get to continue to work with him as a volunteer coach in the Nonprofit Innovation Lab as he develops a sister not-for-profit organization (Melior). I hope the award from the fund will help him launch and further develop the nonprofit.  Eugenio is a true inspiration and I thank him for his dedication and hard work.”

Asthenis is a public health hub with a built-in pharmacy. The company’s mission is to help build a health-conscious community by promoting public health guidance and health education. Due to Fernandez’s bilingual background, the pharmacy is equipped to serve patients who speak either English or Spanish. He believes that pharmacists can create the most impact by educating people about the drugs that they are taking in an effort to increase their health literacy.

Founded in 2018 by Eugenio Fernandez, the company now employs 7 people. Asthenis earned local and national recognition during the pandemic for its work to help vaccinate community members against COVID-19. In YEAR, Fernandez launched a nonprofit organization – Melior – to help operationalize and scale public health initiatives in communities of color.

Fernandez has participated in several SEG programs, including the 2018 Impact Accelerator. Fernandez is currently participating in the 2022 Nonprofit Innovation Lab cohort.

“What makes Kelly a great individual is that she is a smart and impact driven leader. The best part of my experiences with SEG is that I had the opportunity to learn from Kelly. She is a great mentor and friend. The funding will be used to help expand our reach in the community,” said Fernandez.

Ramirez was SEG’s first chief executive and she led the organization for nearly a decade and a half. Under her leadership, SEG has broadened its portfolio of programs and services and launched a mentor and sponsorship program that is supported by more than 200 volunteer experts who provide thousands of hours of pro-bono advising, facilitation, and coaching each year. SEG was instrumental in launching the Rhode Island Business Empowerment Network (RIBEN) earlier this year and partnered with the United Way of Rhode Island to establish the Nonprofit Innovation Lab that supports innovation amongst a growing sector of Rhode Island’s economy. Ramierez left SEG last month. Prior to leaving, Providence College announced that Ramirez would be the inaugural director of the Donald Ryan Incubator for Entrepreneurship in the Arts & Sciences.

Since launching in 2009, more than 1,800 entrepreneurs and companies have participated in SEG programs, including NaloxBox, Hope’s Harvest, GoPeer, and the Steel Yard.

SEG was one of the first incubation and accelerator organizations in the country to focus on social impact as a pathway to create opportunities, especially for those entrepreneurs and businesses that traditionally face barriers to access. Nationally, women founders secured only about 2 percent of all venture capital investments in 2020. In the first three quarters of 2020, Black and Latinx-led ventures secured only 2.6 percent of all venture funding. Since its founding, nearly 60 percent of the ventures to go through SEG programs have been women-owned and over the last three years, SEG has increased the percentage of BIPOC-owned ventures in its programming from less than 20 percent to nearly half.

SEG’s reach and impact has captured attention regionally and nationally. Last year, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo brought Vice President Kamala Harris to Social Enterprise Greenhouse as part of the Biden Administration’s campaign to promote the roles that entrepreneurship, small businesses, and innovation will play in the country’s economic recovery from COVID.


ABOUT SOCIAL ENTERPRISE GREENHOUSE: Social Enterprise Greenhouse (SEG) accelerates impact by providing inclusive support and networks for entrepreneurs and businesses committed to positive societal and economic change. SEG fosters an ecosystem of diverse stakeholders who work to enable a more just, equitable, and resilient economy. SEG is based in Rhode Island and operates statewide virtually and from sites in Providence, Newport, and Pawtucket/Central Falls. Its network of 1,800+ enterprises and 200+ business and community leaders contributes time, expertise, and funding to grow Rhode Island’s social impact ecosystem. To learn more, visit

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