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Archive for the ‘Social’ Category

A first Impression in the Amazonia

In Entrepreneurship, Social on March 13, 2012 at 9:58 pm

The River suddenly appeared like a huge Anaconda in the middle of the thickest forest you could imagine. It was a beautiful sight that reached me as we broke through the clouds covering the greatest rainforest we have: the Amazon jungle – the lungs of the earth. The Amazon Jungle and the Amazon River are probably the most spectacular natural resources of entire Latin America, if not of the entire world. Naturally, it’s one of the New Natural Wonders of the world. Without knowing what I was photographing from the plane, I managed to capture both the Brazilian and the Colombian harbor to the Amazon River in the same pictures.

Surprisingly, more average Colombians than what you’d suspect live here.  Many have found their place in life in this incredible area of peace by just touristing the country. Others are second or third generation in-country immigrants, who have happily lived here all their lives, taking advantage of opportunities that few have sought.

A minority still live in the jungle, in small communities of around 200-300 people, grown out of a few families that still live in primitive conditions. A great surprise, though, is that some of these primitive surroundings, found in the middle of the jungle, have relatively developed schools with something such amazing as… the Internet! Although with only a few computers, time will let these communities develop and continue to get civilized, very likely with the help of government programs that, although not serving all the most needed, might have some positive impact on these indigenous entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurial spirit has indeed found them.

As we entered the community after about an hour’s walk in the jungle, it didn’t take many seconds for the most dedicated mothers to roll up their merchandise before us. Having had no idea of the beautiful paintings and handicraft, 100% natural and handmade, that would be presented, no cash had been brought and we could offer  sweets and cookies to the very grateful children.

Within the capitals of the Amazonia, Leticia on the Colombian side and Tabatinga on the Brazilian side, business has also grown to reach incredible levels. Besides beautiful handicraft sold in most street shops, among the latest technology, cell phones, digital cameras, LCD TVs and computers are sold as basically everywhere else in the country. Hotels with all commodities and tourism agencies with the most exiting tours are also widely offered to national and foreign tourists. Among the most popular tours are kayaking along the river, climbing and sleepover in incredible trees, pink dolphin watching, visiting the island of the monkeys, night-walking in the jungle, boating and swimming in the river.

New hostels in the jungle are being built and prepared for the growing tourism, seemingly in favor of a positive future for many of the locals. Unfortunately, some indigenous tribes might not agree with the civilization taking over their territories, as roads are being extended into the jungle. I will research this area for an upcoming article on how nature is been sacrificed in exchange for people enjoying increased standards of living.

The government is subsidizing financially those indigenous people, who seek a future in the city. I got to see a complete factory of handicrafts that already exists, where a great quantity of handmade products are sold to the different shops in the Amazonia, but also to nation-wide entrepreneurs, who resell them in the larger cities of the country. With the right contacts, these products handmade in the Amazonia might see a prosperous future in the rest of the world. The Amazonia surely is a brand that sells. The river, the animals and the jungle are strong attributes of this amazing place of the earth. Hopefully, the future holds a positive development for all its inhabitants.

On Colombian development and opportunities,

Joni AlWindi

Salsa Dancing – the Joyful Life

In Social on September 10, 2011 at 7:17 pm

In Cali, salsa music is heard everywhere. Without the least bit of exaggeration, everywhere! On my first trip, with a great curiosity to learn, I spent on average 4 hours a day, 5 days a week for a period of 8 months in a salsa academy learning the basics and fundamentals of the dance.

On my second visit, I went to the same academy for an intensive instructor course to become a certified salsa instructor. Additionally, I took a first-level course in Cuban casino-style salsa to flower up my Colombian dancing style.With an additional month of personal classes I could advance a couple of levels and pretty much get the basics covered. On my return to Sweden that same year and for about a year, some 50-100 local and international students of Stockholm School of Economics got to be my salsa students and witness my voluntary attempt to act a salsa teacher. All things considered, I think I did fairly well, but my previous students would have to be asked for an objective judgement. What I aim to get across is that living in an environment dominated by this happily energetic style of music and dance can really influence you profoundly. Salsa is not only a dance or a hobby – it’s a lifestyle.

On my third trip, I was invited to take part in a rehearsal for the Guinness World Record attempt to create the largest synchronized salsa circle to dance a complete song. With more than 500 couples dancing to the famous ‘Cali Pachanguero’ – a sort of national anthem to the salsa fans of Cali – the world record was achieved.

The attempt had been the highlight of the inauguration to the 2007 World Championships in Inline Speed Skating, which fantastically enough Colombia won.

It was, of course, not a coincidence that the salsa record attempt was made in Cali. Neither was it surprising that it was achieved. Words fall short in describing how the salsa music is dominating the city. It may seem exotic or surreal that even the Christmas holidays, for example, are celebrated with one of the most phenomenal salsa happenings of the year, the Cali Fair (December 24 to 31). Right after the sacred family gatherings by the Jesus crib for the Catholic Novenas, the salsa music takes over completely. Internationally renowned salsa orchestras return from whatever international tour they might be on to play their classic hits in the city of their origin. The people either go dancing in the restaurants and clubs to the more exclusive concerts or stay dancing on the streets to the open-air concerts.

Last year (2010) the fair celebrated 53 years. I, however, was enjoying a very different kind of Christmas holiday in the Amazon jungle. More on this in an upcoming article on business in the jungle.

On Colombian development and opportunities,

Joni AlWindi

The Business of Beauty, Health and Fashion

In Social on September 11, 2010 at 12:39 am

Cali ExpoShow, the second most important event in the country of beauty on the topics Beauty, Health and Fashion just celebrated its 10th anniversary in the city of Cali, Colombia, in 2010. The event is the result of joint forces between the National Federation of Merchants and the local authorities that combined created a most elegant and professional happening. The objectives were to 1) create a dynamic business environment for the fashion, health and beauty industry that favors the sectors involved, 2) mark the national economy, consolidating Cali in this sector, and 3) convert the fashion week of Cali ExpoShow into one of the most important runways in Latin America.

Besides spectacular fashion shows and lots of celebrity presence, an important Business Fair marked the event with 4 days of stands and exhibitions of the country’s latest beauty, health and fashion related products and services. Round tables for business people were organized, as well as timely symposiums with various lectures on the topics aesthetics and healthy living, aesthetic dentistry and fashion.

The first impressions were powerful, a huge event centre with a naturally beautiful, green surrounding on the outside, and professionally colorful decorations on the inside. Great national brands of the country welcomed the visitors with fancy stands and showrooms right after entering, and introductory samples of the nights’ fashion shows empowered the environment from the very first opening hour of the days. The expectations started out high and were not left unfulfilled, even though I personally didn’t stay for the most elegant and fancy arrangements taking place after dark.

My presence was focused on the small businesses and producers of unique and national collections of clothes, bags, shoes, jewelry etc. that might be interested in and interesting for the creation of a CW Global Business Group in the country. Several small companies present have beautiful purposes, employing sole-caring mothers to make a positive impact on their communities, for example. Some of the small companies are already exporting to some countries, but struggle to find more buyers. Brief conversations indicate, however, that everyone is interested in exporting their products, and judging from the initial enthusiasm, this is also the great dream that many small designers and producers have for their professional future.

The fair allowed for an excellent mix of companies, having a combination of beauty, health and fashion that is both focused enough to include similar companies to enjoy synergies and at the same time wide enough to include companies that complement each other. With this in the same platform, a strong attractiveness to the visitors has been created and over the years a good international projection has taken shape. How well the established objectives of the entire event were fulfilled is for others to evaluate, but for sure is that the international interest in this Colombian event will only grow in the years to come.

On Colombian development and opportunities,

Joni AlWindi