News & Insights
Opportunity: The Value of a Chance
by Enrique Godreau, III, board member, Global Partnerships
In honor of the International Day to Eradicate Poverty (October 17, 2013), we wanted to share remarks from Enrique Godreau, III, keynote speaker at our 11th annual Business of Hope Luncheon, held on Oct. 8, 2013 at the Westin Hotel in Seattle. He spoke about the value of having the opportunity to create a successful life for himself, and how people living in poverty around the world also deserve to have a chance at success.
As a kid living in Puerto Rico, I often swam in its warm surrounding oceans. While looking for the next larger wave to body surf, the current would pull me further and further out. And when I had to swim back in, it was only then, fighting the invisible forces of nature, that I knew that I had swam too far. I took chances, and as a result, struggled to make it back to shore.
All of us here have stories to tell of chances we took while young. And many of us have stories to tell of the chances we are taking today. We take chances in business. We take chances with relationships. We take chances when we take that new job. Every day, we make decisions that consider the possible outcomes, and we choose to take a chance.
Now, stop for a moment and imagine a world where there are no chances to take. A world that because of where you were born, when you were born, or the circumstances that you were born into, that your life is choice and chance free. Where that sacred geometry of chance combines to say, "No, you don't have a chance."
I have lived a life that could easily have been chance free. This in spite of the fact that I had two parents that gave all they had, and didn't have, so that my brother and I would have a chance. As a Hispanic going to school in the South Bronx in the early seventies, there were few chances to be had.
As a fourth grader, I remember crying all the way home because a 6th grader had forced me to take a puff of a cigarette. With urgency, I apologized to my mother believing I would die of cancer by morning. “If only I had a chance,” I remember thinking; “I would go to a better school.” Ultimately, I got a chance, made some choices, and changed my life.
In 2005, Mike Galgon, a member of the board of directors of Global Partnerships, approached me about a nonprofit organization he was involved with. That organization was Global Partnerships. He told me that they were thinking about a different model for supporting the organization’s mission. Mike asked if I could meet with the Chief Investment Officer and comment on the idea. Ten minutes into the conversation, I was hooked. Even to a geeky, computer scientist turned entrepreneur, the concept seemed innovative, simple, and scalable.
The gift of Global Partnerships’ concept is based on leveraging our relationships with microfinance institutions (MFIs), built with the support of many of the donors and investors in this room, to create a distribution platform for a suite of life-changing services. Across five funds, Rick Beckett, Global Partnerships’ President and CEO, and his incredible staff have developed a sustainable model for helping people living in poverty that otherwise would have few chances. People that live on less than $2 a day. People that lay awake at night wondering how they can get a break, how they can get a chance. And with that chance, the opportunity to make a different life for themselves, for their families, and for others.
In April of this year, the Board of Directors of Global Partnerships took a week-long trip to Nicaragua and Honduras. The purpose of our visit was to meet with some of our MFI and cooperative partners and their members in those regions. What was most striking to me about the trip was reaffirming the tremendous, life-changing value of a chance. When we met with Elma and Olivio who run a pharmacy, a convenience store, a pool hall, an auto garage, and grow coffee in their 2 acres of land so that they can feed and educate their immediate family, I witnessed the value of a chance. When we met these women who told me in Spanish, “Take our picture, because we are the prettiest things here,” outside of a women’s health clinic providing their inaugural pap smear, I witnessed the value of a chance. When we visited with Raphela in her home in the hills of Nicaragua and toured the land that she, her husband, and 7 kids harvest, allowing many of them to go to school, and even some to build cinder block homes, I saw the value of a chance.
And take a close look at this picture. Hanging from the ceiling is a solar light that had been installed just 30 days prior. This family had owned this property for years and years, yet it was the first time that they had an electric light in the house. Though Edison’s first demonstration of the electric light bulb was on December 31, 1879, this family got theirs last April thanks to the support of one of our MFI partners. This solar light also charges their cell phones. Before they had this charging capability, they had to walk an hour into town, pay up to 4 US dollars, and waste the better part of a day charging phones.
Global Partnerships' Impact and Catalytic Investment model has been consistent, and frankly, executed better than many for profit companies I know.
They thoughtfully test the viability and sustainability of a new service. They identify and fund partners to enable a distribution channel. And finally, they assess the impact and refine the operational model as needed.
For nearly 20 years, Global Partnerships has been singularly focused on one mission, providing opportunities for people living in poverty. The brilliance of what Paula and Bill Clapp founded is an organization driven by shared values and a shared vision that harnesses the power of shared responsibility and shared opportunity.
As we dine together in this room, I ask you to join with the Global Partnerships’ family and take advantage of this opportunity to help us give many, many more people a chance. One of the persons that we collectively help may be the one with the insight that finds the cure for cancer, that advances our understanding of the laws of physics, or that dramatically increases agricultural yields. Providing opportunities to those that don't have them actually gives all of us a chance to realize a better life.
Earlier, Margaret mentioned that we have a very special guest with us. Florinda Salinas, an Honduran wife, mother, and entrepreneur is here to tell us what the value of a chance has
meant to her and to her family. Let’s watch this brief video and learn a bit more about Florinda. Thank you.