The meeting got underway and it was difficult to keep up. An idea for a restaurant was to be taken to the next stage. A business plan needed drafting. Moreover, the restaurant’s profits would go back to fund community and local development projects. Although I could translate the basic discussion and key action points from Spanish, I needed to convey something a bit different to the group (many thanks to Michel Thomas, Total Spanish Method.)
Me: Gracias todos, conoce Jamie Oliver?
Group: Si, por supuesto.
Perhaps I should explain where we are: we are chatting about this over 5000 miles from the UK. This conversation happened two weeks ago in Central America.
Fortunately this conversation above wasn’t my only contribution to the meeting! However it was relevant; while Jamie Oliver’s cooking programs feature regularly on the TV in Nicaragua not everyone was aware of his broader social mission. As I explained Jamie’s social business work and campaigns, I made clear the links between his work and the project we were discussing. In particular, the shared objectives of giving opportunities to local young people to be employed and maximising the potential social impact/benefit of the venture.
On that humid day we met with partners of Progressio, and other community leaders located in the North of Nicaragua. The meeting took place at the mid-point of a 14 day visit for me – to meet the Progressio teams based in Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador.
Progressio is an International Non-Governmental Organisation (head office in London). They have been working in LatinAmerican countries for over thirty years; helping to alleviate poverty through working with local grass-roots organisations. As an On Purpose Associate working for Progressio, my terms of reference for the visit were to assist with business strategy and planning.
The visit was a remarkable experience for me personally and professionally. Similar to the above restaurant initiative, I got to see many brilliant initiatives supported by Progressio and it was particularly interesting to note the presence of Co-operative businesses in the region.
Through working with On Purpose, Progressio is creating projects to examine new business models and program delivery. It’s been a privilege for me to see their fantastic work on both sides of the globe. Also, who knew I’d be referring to the “Naked Chef” in Nicaragua?