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Colombia Projects


Maria Jose Fletcher and Merecedes Lorduy of VIDA Legal Assistance hosted Colombian Fellows Narda Berardinelly and Marianita Montilla, participants of FAVACA's U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Colombia Professional Exchange program.  As follow-on training, Fletcher and Lorduy traveled to Colombia on June 24-July 8, 2012.  Their expertise and experience in establishing programs and nonprofits dedicated to addressing women's empowerment, freedom from violence, access to justice and social development was requested by La Red de Mujeres Chocoanas.  La Red de Mujeres Chocoanas is a coalition of 54 affiliated women's organizations throughout Chocó that promote and empower women and strengthen their organizations.  In Bogota, Fletcher and Lorduy visited the Center for Integral Attention against Sexual Violence (CAIVAS-Centro de Atencion Integral Contra la Violencia Sexual) operated by the District Attorney's Office in Bogota (Fiscalia General de la Nacion) to better understand the process victims experience.  They then traveled to Quibdo, the capital of the Department of Choco, where they were hosted by La Rede de Mujeres Chocoanas.  They met with and made presentations about best practices in preventing domestic and sexual violence to women's organizations in Quibdo as well as Andagoya, San Juan, Itsmina and Condoto.  Many of the participants were astonished to hear about cases of violence that exist in the US.  While there are greater resources in the US to care for victims' medical needs and greater confidence in receiving justice than in Colombia, the women's advocates recognized the parallels.  The volunteers stressed the need to have systems and services in place before doing large scale outreach about victims' rights.  The volunteer also traveled to Barranquilla to work with FEDECARIBE, a nonprofit organization that promotes the development of community organizations in the Colombian Caribbean, and the University of the North to provide a series of seminars to women's rights organizations on domestic violence prevention.


PROPAIS, the Institution for the Development of Microenterprises, strives to support the development of the microenterprise sector, strengthen economic recovery and promote mechanisms to support the displaced population, women heads of households, young entrepreneurs, and citizens in the process of reintegration in Colombia.  PROPAIS requested FAVACA's assistance to provide experts in the areas of strategic marketing, management best practices and micro-franchising.  Micro-franchising entails economic development through business models that can be replicated by entrepreneurs at the base of the socio-economic pyramid that lack fundamental business skills.  Eileen Rodriguez, Regional Director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa, Julio Estremera, Certified Business Analyst with the SBDC at Florida Gulf Coast University, and Camilo Lopez Certified Business Analyst with the SBDC in Miami traveled to Bogota, Colombia June 17-22, 2012 to work with PROPAIS staff and coordinators.  The FAVACA volunteers provided a presentation on Florida Small Business Development Center operations and best practices.  The information generated much discussion on the benefits SBDCs provide their clients and the professional development, certifications and training offered SBDC counselors.  The volunteers also facilitated sessions on the micro-franchising concept including the characteristics of a micro-franchisee/micro-franchisor, the capital required to start a micro-franchise, and feasible economic sectors.  One of the volunteers, Julio Estremera, traveled to Cartagena to meet with entrepreneurs and explore the micro-franchise concept.  The volunteers provided PROPAIS staff and coordinators with information about the SBDC Procurement Technical Assistance Center program, which provides ongoing advice to small businesses, and the roles of the US Small Business Administration (SBA) and services of Small Business Development Centers including no-cost consulting services, 8(a) certification for minority-owned businesses and SBA loans.  A meeting with several representatives of the Colombian Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, including the Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, was held to assist the Ministry in defining the term micro-franchise.  After the training concluded, the volunteers recommended that PROPAIS staff and coordinators spend more time with small business owners to help them grow and succeed as well as address challenges in PROPAIS' organizational structure such as increase staff training and professional development opportunities and develop a conflict of interest policy.


FAVACA veteran volunteer, Ann Marie Warmenhoven traveled to Bogota and Cali, Colombia, May 30-June 10 to lead a series of workshops to review nonprofit organization's social media strategy and provide tools for greater visibility. While in Bogota, Warmenhoven worked with Solidarity Organizations (Organizaciones Solidarias), the Colombian Institute for Family Well-Being (ICBF), Nativa ONG and Maroon Movement (Movimiento Cimaron) in Bogota. In Cali, Warmenhoven conducted one-on-one consultations with representatives from the Santa Maria Foundation, No More Violence Against Women (No Mas Violencia Contra la Mujeres), Cali Community (Comunidad de Cali), Yes Women (Si Mujer), MAVI Foundation, Info Gender (Infogenero) and Festive Feminine (Feminas Festivas). Warmenhoven led a formal social media workshop for the participants on a variety of aspects of social media. The workshop was to bring more of participants into the social media process and included discussions on a social media strategy. Warmenhoven's social media strategy included break-out sessions where attendees divided into thematic groups to answer the questions: "Who should we be listening to?" "Who should we be talking to?" and "What tools can we use to engage and listen to people online?" 

Warmenhoven advised participants to narrow their message and make it clear how different activities relate to the mission of the organization.  She showed each person how to set up a Twitter account and use Tweetdeck for listening.  Warmenhoven taught them to offer captions or explanations of photos in English and Spanish rather than simply posting photos.  She also recommended changing the profile pictures to company logos and creating an organizational YouTube video for more exposure.  Warmenhoven offered some technical help on each group's website and recommended incorporating social media one these sites and stressed the importance of blogging to increase visibility. She also held a session of the workshop to focus on specific tools like Tweetdeck, Twitterfeed,, and others. Warmenhoven made some suggestions on how to use social media to change the public's perceptions and followed up informational articles.  She also focused on the role of social media in electronic-government and offered ideas to engage beneficiaries as well as the general public. Warmenhoven also conducted two four-hour sessions to members of the community interested in learning to expand their visibility, use social media as a fundraising tool and familiarize themselves with best practices. Lastly, Warmenhoven provided training on fundraising and cover a variety of online fundraising resources and crowdfunding tools. 


The Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF - Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar)provides for the welfare of Colombian families with an emphasis on early childhood development.  ICBF strives to combat nutritional deficiency and the disintegration and instability of the family, and provides a range of other services to children, mothers, and senior citizens.  ICBF has over 200 centers, present in all 33 departments of Colombia, reaching the most vulnerable citizens in the country.  ICBF collaborates with a variety of foundations and nonprofits to help increase the depth and breadth of their programs to Colombian families as well as to increase the funding available to support families in need.  With several organizations under the supervision of ICBF, the need to improve the capacity and organizational development of ICBF is crucial for the ongoing success of their programs.

In order to provide the afore-mentioned training, Hugo Cardona was recruited from Core Strategies for Non-Profits to teach best practices in proposal development, fund management, and donor relations and traveled to Bogota, Colombia from February 22- March 21, 2012.  Cardona provided training reaching out to new and former donors, retaining donors, managing funds, and insuring fund transparency.  Cardona also met and trained ICBF partners including the AR Foundation, Foundation Plan, the Foundation of the National Federation of Coffee Growers, UNICEF, Wide Horizons Foundation, the World Food Program, and the Siigo Foundation in order to establish a comprehensive understanding of their relationship with ICBF and better coordinate and collaborate in the future.  Cardona met with each individual organization and provided them with ways to increase program efficiency and benefit ICBF and their clients.  As a result of the training, ICBF was able to raise $66 million pesos (over US$35,000) in one month, and further consolidate the relationships with their numerous partners increasing their efficiency and organizational capacity.


First time FAVACA partner, La Red, located in Tulua, Valle de Cauca, Colombia works throughout the Pacific Coast to provide capacity building and leadership training to small grassroots organizations. The organization was started by a group of teenagers that felt youth needed more opportunities to participate and a greater voice in their communities.  Seventeen years later, La Red has become a leader in innovative engagement for marginalized communities throughout the region. They serve as an umbrella organization for hundreds of small nonprofits and associations.La Red requested technical assistance for their organization and their members on the fundamentals of organizational development.

FAVACA recruited expert volunteer Phil Rincon to help La Red, their partners, and other strategic alliances in the region.  Rincon is part of the executive team of Florida-based nonprofit Bochika. Bochika’s mission is to empower marginalized and impoverished communities through participatory sustainable economic, agricultural and social development. Bochika partners with civil society organizations in the developing world to strengthen their internal capacity through training, tools, and technology. Rincon’s work with Bochika has been acknowledged by former President Bill Clinton in 2010. He currently works in Haiti and Little Haiti in Miami to increase organizational capacity through hands-on training.

Rincon traveled to Colombia from December 9-20, 2012. Rincon worked directly with La Red to help them be more competitive in seeking international grants. In collaboration with La Red, he hosted several workshops for approximately 80 individuals from 67 different civil society organizations.  The training was also attended by local government authorities including Senator Cesar Tulio Delgado Blandon and Representative Valle Henry Arcila, who shared information about local resources for attendees. The training demonstrated how cooperation can generate new networks and prospects. Rincon has been in the field consulting one-on-one with organizations throughout the region to provide them with practical solutions to issues of transparency, sustainability, and fundraising so the organizations are better equipped to help their communities grow.


In July 2011 the "Coffee Triangle" of Colombia was recently designated a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site.  "The Coffee Triangle is one of the most beautiful regions in Colombia featuring nature, parks, art, coffee culture, and adventure sports" according to Proexport Colombia, the country's tourism promotion agency.  Within this region, the Chamber of Commerce of Pereira and the Association of Coffee Farmers of Pereira (ASOCAFES), wishing to take advantage of this unique tourism opportunity, requested FAVACA send an expert to help design a strategic plan to promote tourism to that area.  Veteran volunteer Gabriel Parra, a native of Colombia, traveled August 29-Sept 7, 2011 to build consensus and develop the strategic plan.  He was able to get many local leaders including the mayor and small coffee growers to create a vision of the rustic tourism experience and gave ASOCAFES the necessary tools to build on their strategic plan.  Parra also met with a Bogota based nonprofit organization, the Native Foundation (Fundacion Nativa) to provide organizational structure support. He also met with the US Agency for International Development office to share his experience and explore possibilities for collaboration.


The Institute of Family Well-Being (Acción Social, Instituto de Bienstar Familiar) {ICBF} in Bogota, Colombia is a public service institution committed to the comprehensive protection of at-risk families and children. Additionally ICBF processes domestic and international adoptions, provides welfare services, and has offices in every department of Colombia.  In an ongoing effort to provide more and better services to their more than 10 million beneficiaries, ICBF wanted to design and implement an organizational fundraising and international cooperation plan since current funding levels don't cover the amount of services required by their constituents.  FAVACA volunteer Carlos Zepeda, President/CEO of Organizational Management Advisors, LLC., a Miami based company that provides multilingual organizational development and infrastructure implementation with a passion for helping nonprofits, government organizations, NGOs, business startups, and socially responsible businesses to further their mission and impact in the communities they serve. For nearly ten years, Zepeda worked with the State of Florida's Department of Children and Families as a program administrator where he implemented a variety of operational activities to ensure that performance indicators were met. Zepeda provided ICBF with technical training in fundraising to diversify funding sources for their essential programs and developed, in collaboration with their staff, a strategic plan from April 3-9, 2011.  The training helped to create a long-term relationship between the volunteer and ICBF.  Since the training, Zepeda has provided further support in the implementation of the strategic plan.


Alejandrito Corazon is an organization who works to provide health care and heart surgery to children from all over Colombia, who without their support, would not receive necessary life saving surgery. Alejandrito Corazon created a social business, Heart for Change, to help fundraise for their cause. One method that Heart for Change uses to generate funding is to provide summer internship experiences at a cost to youth from around the world with the profits going directly to assist Alejandrito Corazon. These organizations, although small, requested the assistance of FAVACA to develop a marketing plan to allow them to promote their organizations both locally and abroad. From March 21-27, 2011, veteran FAVACA volunteer Miguel Mantilla, a Senior Marketing Manager and Business Development Manager with Screenvertising in Miami, Florida, traveled to Bogota, Colombia to train Alejandrito Corazon and Heart for Change staff in specific marketing and business techniques, developing additional marketing ideas, and implementing their new marketing concepts. As a result of the training, a marketing plan was developed that was designed towards specific objectives, strategies, and tactics that will promote the organizations while also increasing donor support.  Mantilla also helped to develop an evaluation for members of the Board of Directors and administrative staff in order to select a productive team committed to the Foundation's goals.  


Fundacion Aprendo hosted an organizational development workshop from November 7th-10th 2010 in Barranquilla, Colombia. Hugo Cardona of Core Strategies for Nonprofits and originally from Colombia presented to a group of 5 different organizations on financial accountability, project management, and fundraising. The workshop provided the skills requested by the Fundacion Aprendo, a Barranquilla- based organization with over 25 years of providing therapy and educational opportunities to special needs children.  The Fundacion Aprendo collaborated with their local nonprofit partners including organizations that provide rehabilitation for alcoholics and educational opportunities for people with special needs and underserved communities. The Fundacion Aprendo has begun implementing their new knowledge and have hosted seminars around Colombia to promote their unique therapy skills, create awareness about their program, and raise additional funds.  In addition, veteran volunteer Gabriel Parra, Special Projects Coordinator of the Association for Retarded Citizens of South Florida, provided intensive training on unique fundraising opportunities for five Barranquilla-based nonprofit organizations from November 14th-17th, 2010, including one-on-one consulting and training for Fundacion Aprendo. His expert insights provided the organizations with practical ideas that they have begun implementing in their day to day practices. Mr. Parra inspired the organizations to think of out-of-the-box fundraising opportunities, including selling t-shirts to promote their organizations.


With the support of FAVACA, Fundacion Sentires hosted the Organizational Strengthening and Resource Development Workshop at the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota, Colombia from November 19-21, 2010. Approximately 30 members of the non- profit community and other organizations that develop and implement social programs across Colombia gathered at the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies about Development (CIDER) for a 3-day workshop to network and build fundraising, project management, and financial accounting skills, and more.

FAVACA veteran volunteers Gabriel Parra, Special Projects Coordinator of the Association for Retarded Citizens of South Florida, and Hugo Cardona of Core Strategies for Nonprofits guided the workshop. Both volunteers are originally from Colombia and were pleased to have an opportunity to give back to their home country in their area of expertise. Both volunteers worked directly with the Fundacion Sentires to implement the strategies learned in the training. Fundacion Sentires works with disadvantaged children in one of the most underserved neighbors of Bogota to provide lunch, after school care and tutoring. They hope that with their new knowledge they will be able to build a larger center to assist more children.

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