The popular image of big corporations in the U.S.A. these days is not exactly bright and shiny. Wall Street shenanigans; a massive oil spill caused by ineptitude; an unemployment rate of 10 percent, minimum — coupled with outsourcing of jobs; and financial fears all contribute to a national mood that does not smile upon the captains of industry.
In fact, when a corporation does try to do good, through a social responsibility program, you can easily find skeptics who say the only motivation is to polish up a tarnished image.
We can be as skeptical as anyone else here at Nearshore Americas, but recently we came across a story that could defrost even the cold, black heart of this reporter.
The story begins a few years ago in Guatemala. A woman named Arlaine Cervantes had experienced a moment of epiphany where she realized it’s time to do something other than “run around in the same circle and make money.” She had fallen in love with Guatemala, renowned for its natural beauty but one of the poorest countries in Latin America. She describes the situation of the native Mayans as “bleak.” Many children were orphaned by the civil war, many live in remote villages without basic necessities and no education — “without any sense of purpose or hope.”
Even crusty curmudgeons who don’t care about “green IT” or sustainability should find this Guatemalan tale inspiring.
Cervantes came up with an idea: Build a kids camp where children could learn and be mentored, could have fun, and most important, could realize they can change their lives and their communities. That idea became a dream — Ninos del Lago — which became a reality that is now taking shape in the forest overlooking Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan.
But that reality, Cervantes told us, could not have happened without the considerable assistance of a couple of execs from Capgemini’s BPO group, Capgemini employees in Guatemala City, and their client, Coca-Cola. There was corporate financial support, and Capgemini staff have volunteered time and sweat (and their own money) to help carve the camp site out of the woods.
“A brighter future” for Guatemala’s poorest kids is one of the goals of Niños del Lago. For Capgemini, it’s a chance to “give something back,” says David Poole, who heads up the company’s BPO operations in the Americas. “We benefit from leveraging the talent pool in Guatemala. By supporting Niños del Lago and their effort to keep the most underprivileged children in the education system … we help protect the future prosperity of the community in which they live.”
You can read more about the Niños del Lago story in this new ebook that describes ways businesses can contribute to their local community, as well as implement practices that contribute to the health of the planet. Even crusty curmudgeons who don’t care about “green IT” or sustainability should find this Guatemalan tale inspiring.