"See the hope in the eyes of our fellows keeps me going every day"
Facundo Garayoa is a social entrepreneur from Argentine who launched FONBEC in 1999. This Foundation began implementing a scholarship system for students with high academic results but serious economic problems so they could continue studying. The scholarships was implemented through a system of godchildren and godparents.
Facundo, engineer and now social entrepreneur, has been working on this initiative for more than a decade. Up to date, Fonbec has succeeded in helping over 1,100 students from 12 cities in Argentine and Bolivia.
How would you describe yourself in three lines?
A passionate about helping, focused on providing opportunities for people to improve their living conditions.
What’s the main aim of FONBEC?
FONBEC is an organization that links people with high potential and limited resources with other willing to help. In FONBEC we find the ideal environment to practice brotherhood. And it goes beyond the mere solidarity because "everybody give and everybody receive."
How and why did you create FONBEC?
Fonbec was born to improve the world in which we live. We try to narrow the social gap, which hardly would achieve our beneficiaries without tools such as study and access to skilled work. In this process, the beneficiary becomes the benefactor, as he achieves his own development and helps his family and his entire community.
Fonbec was born joining two extremes: a good student in a neighbourhood with few resources and a professional from the best neighbourhood in my city.
What difficulties did you encountered?
The main difficulty I find is myself. There’s so much to do! The rest of the problems are minor.
What are the main needs of FONBEC?
We need many sponsors - businesses and individuals - to "save" our children with a small financial contribution.
Do you think that society recognizes your work and the labour of other social entrepreneurs?
Yes; social work is more and more valued. Social entrepreneurs could not work without support. I hope one day –soon- NGOs, state, business and society in general will work together.
Any touching story that has happened to you over the years?
Thousands ... is what keeps me going on with this. I can highlight two from the last week. We have recently created a lending library. Well, the other day I was told that a 6 years girl who beneficiates from Fonbec was at the library with two other girls -4 and 5 years old- reading aloud. The two small cannot read.
Nearby, another family consisting on two girls and their mother were surviving on $ 400 a month (less than 100 Euro). It's a desperate situation. As an emergency, before get a job for the mother, we asked a neighbour who just started working on his own bakery to bring a homemade bread to this family every day. This man is also father of two girls who beneficiates from Fonbec. He gladly agreed. At least this family had the "daily bread". Luckily, we have found a job for this mother!
What helped you the most when trying to releas this NGO?
Seeing the hope in the eyes of every one of our beneficiaries. This, along with the joy that we find when a former grantee becomes godfather, pushes me every day to do more for them.
What would you ask for FONBEC?
For FONBEC, nothing. For my boys, the moon! We always have outstanding students on the waiting list.
- A personal dream: that in every city, village or cluster of people, everyone spend at least a couple of hours a week to help others.
- A movie everyone should see: Many people suggested me “Pay It Forward”.
- A book everyone should read: the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
- With who (historical figure) would you spend one hour or have a coffee? With "Che" Guevara.