We are emerging from our one week immersion in El Salvador with some early insights.
No surprise that our meetings with significant business leaders, public and private associations, government ministries, private equity firms, private foundations, educational institutions, media companies, not for profits (some working directly with gangs), and security organizations has refined our initial assessments. They are too many to mention by name, but we thank everyone who invested their time with Bpeace this week. Each greatly advanced our knowledge and thinking.
One highlight with big implications for us: The Salvadoran web-like gang organization model means there are few recognized leaders to convince or influence. Uncertain as to where the gang webs reach, broadly the business community’s response is to layer in security costs and minimize risk by reducing investment, and importantly to minimize gang contact. The solution to break the stalemate of gang violence is not as simple as employment of at risk youth.
But we see unique opportunity here.
Bpeace’s approach in El Salvador can be custom designed for maximum result. The design must include not only what small and medium size businesses we support but also to what, where and how these businesses engage the causes and impact of violence.
What excites us most is that the approach can and must include the Salvadoran resources we can leverage– a small but existing middle market economy, young educated professionals, innovative entrepreneurs and business people, an emerging CSR (corporate social responsibility) interest and partnership among those organizations and institutions who have been engaging successfully here.
Before we leave the country we will take a trip to the Salvadoran countryside where we hear there is a little peace and quiet to be discovered. Stay tuned…