When I talk with Americans about Honduras, they seem to paint it with the single broad stroke of poverty/violence/corruption. They assume its people are completely paralyzed by these evils. If that’s how you envision people of the least developed nations, then Wilfredo will surprise you….He installs glass on high rises including the one below in Tegucigalpa. He also designs and utilizes equipment to clean and maintain such windows. On the residential side, he just landed a contract to install windows in 450 new homes.
He’s made many personal financial sacrifices to be able to build a strong company. And during our visit to his business two weeks ago, he praised an employee’s skills in front of him, then told us privately how he’d been able to help his family. Developing and caring for his employees has attracted 17 team members – creating a virtuous circle.
Although I employ more people, he’s been in business far longer and would be justified in not feeling the need for business coaching. I can learn a lot from him, yet he was interested in my new system for developing employees and in a summary of a book on employee motivation (Primed to Perform). Having earned a solid reputation during 30 years in his industry, you’d expect him to be brash and prideful. Rather, his kind eyes shed tears as he told of his new son-in-law’s recent death from a brain tumor (please pray for his widowed daughter, Gabriella). He’s the type you’d want a grandfatherly hug from. Doubtlessly, this combination of humility and accomplishment helps explain the respect of 40 smaller window shop owners who buy parts from him.
Motivated by his Christian faith (he offers rent-free space to his church in the same building as his glass shop – above and below photos), Wilfredo is eager to help other Honduran entrepreneurs leverage their businesses as a force for good. So, before we could even suggest it, Wilfredo said: “I’ll gather my 40 window shop owner friends and go through your GrowBook [business training curriculum] with them. You can join us on one of your trips to Honduras.” He plans to meet with them monthly, teaching chapter-per-session through GrowBook’s 25 chapters to help them grow their businesses, create new jobs, and serve their communities.
Within a day of receiving a paperback copy of our Mentor Tools, he was already reading it and thinking of how to use our best practices to mentor his cousins who run companies that mine sand and manufacture paint, glue, and rebar. “Their companies are bigger than mine, but I want to help them learn to treat their employees better.” With a broad smile, he asked: “When can I start?!”
[Wilfredo is pictured above and below with Jeff Hostetter, his Creating Jobs mentor.] Eager to co-mentor with us beginning with Jeff’s November trip, Wilfredo said: “I want to watch and learn how you mentor business owners.” Partners Worldwide translator Jose Elvir, who is pictured below left, said: “We don’t even have a real word for mentoring in Spanish; we just borrow the English word and change the pronunciation!” Without a culture of mentoring, it begins to click not when receiving mentoring, but rather when co-mentoring another entrepreneur alongside of us. As new local mentors sit on the other side of the table, they give in-depth attention to someone else’s business – perhaps for the very first time. And they love it!
Wilfredo’s glass workshop
This is even more poignant in Haiti, where people are conditioned from infancy to be lifelong recipients of charity. It is shocking to realize they have something to give, and it’s dignifying to share something of value with others, fulfilling their built-in purpose to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
See Haitian stone-carver Josue Jean-Gilles (below) gaining more experience as a local mentor. Josue shared some wisdom and local connections that we foreigners had no knowledge of, such as a low-cost radio marketing opportunity. With a team of people paying focused attention to his business, Lifaite exclaimed: “Your help will advance my furniture shop by 10 years!” Gratitude shines through his hyperbole.
So, people in poor countries are neither helpless nor hopeless, especially when local leaders like Wilfredo and Josue are investing in them. They have the same capacity for flourishing as we do, yet exercise it in far more challenging environments.
The consistent, generous support of our donors makes this possible. If you’ve been encouraged by this update, please make a tax-deductible donation here so we can serve more entrepreneurs. Or perhaps you’d like to get personally involved as a mentor, leveraging your business acumen for global good?
Founder & Executive Director
This newsletter has illustrated one of our five core values…
We equip leaders with business acumen and train them to mentor others. This builds the capacity of local leaders to sustain their own communities.