Most can say that living in an Industrial Mexican-US border city with over 350 factories within 1.5 million people is a paradise for an Industrial Engineer like me. However what is life if you feel that something is missing, happiness is no longer material.

My experience of growing up in border town, located in the Chihuahuan Desert, where two cultures venture and mix together to form a big divided city (Mexico and US) makes you see the world differently and open up your eyes. You may see and find all kind of comforts…. from Mexican food to US luxuries The contrast of how I grew made me look for more contrast somewhere else and thankfully I get this once in a lifetime opportunity that has been changing my life. For me, this opportunity was joining iCats fellowship program. My field task this year assigned by the program was to work with a Colombian company name Mukatri.

First local business fair that I participate as Mukatri

First local business fair that I participate as Mukatri

Mukatri is a small company located in the south of Colombia, an Amazonian piedmont unknown by many people and forgotten by a lot. The department of Caquetá (in Florencia) has been identified as the most deforested area (Deforestation rate is almost 3 thousand Acres per year). Mukatri’s main purpose is to tackle the deforestation of the Amazon by manufacturing and commercializing sweets, cookies, sauces and marmalades made of ecologically grown/harvested forest fruits. The raw material purchases mainly come from local farmers who commit to planting in agro-forestry schemes. My first impression when reading the portfolio company was that it would be easy to work with Colombia as they were “Latinos” just like me. However though we did have our background in common we still have our slang, food, and media differences that at the end made us very different.

Amazonian  Piedmont, a different view of the Amazon

Amazonian Piedmont, a different view of the Amazon

Communication became a barrier that I wasn’t expecting. The transportation became an adventure… Flights were more like a roller coaster to me; bus curves from the Andes that surrounded the cities made me want to throw up from time to time; the town where I live barely got their first 3D movie theater and mall. On top of this I would see different vegetation, insects (they attacked me!) and even different animal species. All these differences were part of my adjusting challenge to the town, nevertheless the beauty of the green mountains and Amazonian rivers that surrounded the whole way from home to work reminded me the reason why I am here for.

 

Site visit from Mukatri affiliate farmer: Doña Pastora, she received us with a delicious meal.

Site visit from Mukatri’s affiliate farmer: Doña Pastora, she received us with a delicious meal.

We work hand by hand with local farmers that live in parcels. The closest parcel is located in Florencia 30 minutes away driving plus 40 minutes mountain walk. They would find us reliable and always welcome us with a table full of food and a big smile despite their almost on the poverty level. Working on Mukatri has been a blue out of the bold on my professional experience; a small company with dreams of expansion which I want to help come true. We as Mukatri Family (They literally adopted as if I were their child or an addition to the family) are planning to grow with the LGT VP help this year. My Bachelor’s as an Industrial Engineer plus my experience as a financial analyst keep playing an important role to find cost efficient ways to become wider and larger. These two crazy finance and Engineering mixes help out and challenge me to do more every day.

Many personal and professional things have been given up to be here in Colombia and continue pursuing my dream of making a change to the world, and now I know am not alone, people on the network of impact investment are with me, looking for social and environmental programs.

Every day I ask to myself “Is it worth it?” and despite all that I have been given up I look at the town and remember all those smiles and the beautiful sites and views of the surroundings… and my answer as the days go by continue to be a louder and louder YES!