Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Day 23: Meetings

Today was filled with meetings. This morning, I met with the Director of Paz y Convivencia, a local social program that targets former gang members as one of its focal points. I shared with the Director the information I have gathered about the Delancey Street Foundation model. Next week, I am going to make a presentation to a number of NGOs and community members who are also interested in the topic of gangs and how to best rehabilitate former members.

This afternoon, I had a conversation with Angela Tarfur, Director of Give to Colombia. The organization has already sent more than $5M to Colombia, and has an incredible model for sustainable philanthropy. Angela has developed a community-focused methodology for building local buy-in for projects that ultimately become 100% self-sustaining within three years. Her corner stone project was the Juan Bosco Computer Center, which has now become the definitive model for Microsoft’s involvement in similar technology centers throughout Latin America. The center is an oasis in the middle of the slums and 100% community run and operated.

My final meeting was with Ami Noel and his fumigation company, FUMYSEM. He has been particularly diligent in heeding my calls for more and more detail about his company. Today we had some major breakthroughs. First of all, we discussed the fact that he is not selling fumigation services at all, but the real service he is offering is family health. By using non-toxic chemicals and removing unwanted pests, he is making the family home safer and healthier. The mental shift is finally allowing him to think in terms of what differentiates his firm from his competitors. The second breakthrough came from my insistence that he define his variable costs in terms of area. Until now, his pricing has been somewhat arbitrary without a proper understanding of his true costs. Ami Noel is more motivated than ever and that is making me even more excited about the process that we are undertaking.

Joel Montgomery

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