Doing Good To Do Well: Honduras

I am finally back in the good old USA. My wife, grand daughter and I went to Honduras. We had the privilege of traveling with three Warner Pacific Students to La Ceiba. The reason we travelled there was fourfold. First, we provide a four night conference on how to write a business plan. This is our second year of going to La Ceiba, and we have learned to adjust the seminar based upon the need the folks who are attending. This year about half of those in attendance had small businesses already and needed a little different information. The other half needed to write a business plan.

We started the four evenings as one big group. I took the attendees through some basic information on business plans, and then we would break up into two smaller groups. My students took the folks who did not have a small business yet, and worked with them to fill out the worksheet we provided. The worksheet was designed to help the attendees create a simple business plan by the end of the four nights. I took the business owners into another room and we discussed other issues such as budgeting, project plans, and decision-making.

At the end of the four nights our team had accomplished more than we thought we would get done. The largest accomplishment was the establishment of a committee that will oversee the establishment of small businesses in La Ceiba. The committee will be made up of people with finance, accounting, management/leadership, mentoring, entrepreneurship, marketing, and legal experience. We also added a spiritual level to ensure that people recognize this is not just about profit, but about social and economic profit. Warner Pacific will provide training materials and mentoring opportunities that will help improve the opportunity for the success of these small businesses.

The business work we did in Honduras was just a part of the plan. We also worked around an elementary school. We painted eight classrooms and the front of the school. The students did an excellent job, and we accomplished much. Our team also led a craft night for women and older children, which was incredibly successful. And the last accomplishment was the craft day with children in a small community outside of La Ceiba. We were expecting 25 to 30 children and 80 showed up. It was chaos but so much fun. My wife, grand daughter, Xiomara, WPC students, and myself worked hard and the children had a wonderful time. This trip was an exciting and successful event, which raises the question why connect business with social concern?

Santiago Onzono stated it best in his book “The Learning Curve. “Two of the most promising avenues for deepening this transformational nature of management education are: First, the systematic training of management students in what might be called the ‘managerial virtues,’ and second, integrating the study of management and the humanities.” I love teaching business at a liberal arts college. The connection between business and the arts is critical. We never make money in a vacuum, it is always related with people.

This was well articulated in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal within an article entitled, “Doing Good to do Well.” Dow Corning, PepsiCo, FedEx, Intel, Pfizer, and IBM are examples of how companies are sending “small teams of employees to developing countries such as India, Ghana, Brazil, and Nigeria to provide free consulting services to nonprofits and other organizations. A major goal: to scope out business opportunities in hot emerging markets.”

Although there is always a business side to corporate altruism, the fact is the employees that sign up for these assignments feel that this “gives more meaning to their careers.” IBM has sent 1,400 of their employees out in this manner which has generated about $5 million in new business.

What is interesting is that twenty-seven of Fortune 500 companies operate these types programs. However, they will not send just any employee, they usually send their stars. Dow Corning stated that 10% of those who apply for these altruistic assignments are chosen and, “it selects those with strong performance evaluations, and seeks a diverse mix of participants with varying tenure.”

Even managers have a heart. And as John Mckay of Whole Foods has stated, anyone in business today must be socially concerned. It is what the consumer expects, and it is the right thing to do. It is good to be back.

And that is my thought for the day!

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