Once a rockstar
Once a rockstar avatar

By Gudrun Dometeit
You seldom get so many hugs and kisses, make so many appointments, arrangements on one day. The third World Young Leader Forum in Buenos Aires has ended and a lot of us said goodbye already. Some are heading for another country-tour, some for flying back home, others will just relax a little bit here in town from three days of very, very intensive discussions, socializing and communicating.
Being a participant of all three world meetings of the BMW-Foundation, I might compare: Every meeting had really its own specifics. On Hawaii in 2005 the focus was more on fun and teamworking , in Mumbai 2009 we concentrated vey much on the country itself which was exciting and exotic to most of us. Here in Buenos Aires I felt maybe for the first time a real intensification and deepening of relations, because I met so many people I got to know years ago. And it was also hard and concentrated work.
Although – a lot of topics we just touched and they might be even a bit disappointment among some of the presenters of social initiatives. On saturday for example I joined the workshop of “Gaia”, an organization, situated in Bogota, which helps indigenious people in the amazonas-region to administer and preserve their land. In order to preserve more parts of the rainforest “Gaia” would like to scale-up the protected area from 20 to 100 million hectares. What they need is: more funds, communication/PR and a real project management. We tried our best to give some ideas concerning a firm internal structure, a marketing-strategy and fund-raising but it could be just a beginning within the short time available.
What I really appreciated was to see a lot of Young leaders among the 200 participants coming from smaller countries like Slovenia or from the Middle East like Egypt and Libanon or Arab countries like Kuwait. To include open-minded young people especially from the Middle East in our network makes ever more sense looking at the tense situation in the region, especially in Egypt now. One of those Young Leaders is Amani Eltunsi, founder of a “Girls-Only-Radio-Station” in Kairo. During the forum she received frightening phone-calls from Egypt informing her about the new massive demonstrations in the capital. She took part in the demonstrations on the Tharir-Place from the beginning and wrote a book about it. She told me that she already as a young girl refused to wear a veil, and that she had been isolated for this.
Thanks a lot to Markus Hipp and his team to give us the chance to have all these different experiences!! And of course I am especially grateful that they helped me to realize my most secret dreams – to become a rockstar … yesterday evening in the Puesto Viejo Polo-Club …

Missing
Missing avatar

By Gudrun Dometeit
Just a short notice after a day with excited and sometimes contraversary discussions: I missed again Anas Dharweesh from Damascus, who was supposed to introduce Shabab, an organization for youth employability in Syria. Unfortunately he didn’t get a visa for Argentina – among several other invited participants of the Forum. More than others he might have used our network, contacts and communication – if we look at the political situation in Syria these days!

No impresario any more
No impresario any more avatar

by Gudrun Dometeit
One word before I start describing what we have done on the second day of our World Young Leaders Forum in Buenos Aires: Although travelling a lot I have never been to South America before. If I am honest – I always preferred Asia, North America or any other place in the world. I am not an exception: Most of the other young leaders I was talking to also weren’t very much interested in the continent. But I am sure a lot of us will change their mind after this World Forum. And one of the reasons for this are the Argentinians we met here: Passionate in what they are doing, very (self)critical and always with a sense of humour towards the weaknesses of their country. Like Sergio Berensztein, an analyst from Buenos Aires, who gave us in the morning a very frank overview of Argentinas political system (“They lie about everything.” and “Corruption is part of the game.” )
Afterwards we started our on-site visits in Buenos Aires. I joined for a trip with Julian Massaldi, one of the founders of La Base, an organization which gives micro-loans to companies with a “democratic structure”. In fact they are supporting around 40 cooperatives, where decisions are made by assemblies. The money for the foundation is mainly coming from individual donations. We visited “MacBody”, one of the cooperatives, in a residential area in the northern part of the town. The company is producing clothes for children and once had 300 employees. In 2007 it went bancrupt, but 40 employees decided to continue, try to use the brand-name and to preserve the rest of the working-places. They went through another crisis in 2009 and had to cut the number of employees again. Now there are 22 people left – sewing and cutting in huge halls with posters of Christina Kirchner on the walls.
This sounds not like a real business-success-story but something else was interesting: The workers obviously enjoyed being entrepreneurs although nobody got a special training for it. “We don’t want an impresario any more, we don’t want to take orders from somebody else.” – these were the sentences we’ve heard. One said, that the self-managed way of working strengthened him as a human being. By the way: Everybody gets the same wage.
It’s an experiment and I am not sure if this will be a sustainable model. In order to make cooperatives like MacBody more competitive also in the future and more attractive for others we have been discussing different ideas: asking practioners to give management training, trying to initiate a long-term strategy, cooperating with universities etc.