GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA, (May 7, 2015) – Sending an important signal that corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs in Guatemala are a key ingredient to fueling the country’s economic and social engine, corporate philanthropic leaders met on Wednesday, May 6 to discuss strategies to improve upon effective programs in the country.

Hosted by AmCham/Guatemala, the meeting included nearly 30 leaders from companies doing business in Guatemala, including Cerveceria Centroamericana, Fundazucar, Kimberly Clark and JC Penney.

Counterpart Board of Directors Member Raul Herrera, AmCham Vice President Nicholas Virzi, Counterpart President and CEO Joan Parker, AmCham Committee's Coordinator Thelma Soares, Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler and Head of AmCham's CSR Committee Eduardo Palacio. -

Counterpart Board of Directors Member Raul Herrera, AmCham Vice President Nicholas Virzi, Counterpart President and CEO Joan Parker, AmCham Committee’s Coordinator Thelma Soares, Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler and Head of AmCham’s CSR Committee Eduardo Palacio. –

Counterpart International has worked collaboratively with local organizations and community leaders in Guatemala since 2006 and understands the need for local solutions to local problems. The organization is currently involved in facilitating a global dialogue on how to strengthen the social sector and solicited opinions from Guatemalan corporate leaders. Their views will be shared as part of the global dialogue taking place in several regions of the world through September 2015.

“Guatemala’s corporate leaders have much to contribute to the global dialogue on strengthening the social sector to help improve people’s lives,” said Joan Parker, president and CEO of Counterpart International. “Having worked locally in Guatemala for nine years, we recognize the importance of strong community-level organizations. We know the private sector works at the local level as well, so they can give us broader insights into the opportunities and challenges of working at the community level.”

“Partnering with local communities is difficult. To be successful, people in the communities need to see themselves as part of the solution. That is a difficult process of building a local leadership culture,” said Regina Barillas, CSR manager, Plantaciones Nahualate – Agricultural Sector. Barillas asked the group, “How can we bring that piece to our corporate social responsibility programs?”

Parker asked for feedback on several tools that Counterpart’s Social Sector Accelerator™ designed to enhance social return on investment of CSR programs. “Because every context is different, we need to hear from Guatemala’s social investors on what is most needed here. If we get that right, then companies can get the hoped for ‘impact dividend’ on their social investments by adopting these tools,” noted Parker.

Participants recommended proceeding with four of the proposed toolkits and put special emphasis on “Creating a Learning Path for Social Sector Leaders,” which focuses on leadership development. In addition, participants recommended additional toolkits including how to foster knowledge sharing and lessons learned from other corporations, how to create community involvement and commitment and creating public-private partnerships.

Gabriela Isler, 2013 Miss Universe and founder of the Universe of Blessings Fund, also participated in the meeting to learn more about the role of the social sector in economic development in Guatemala.

“I am grateful to participate and learn from those who are committed to helping their country. I hope to engage leaders in my home country of Venezuela to improve the lives of women and girls,” said Isler. “The involvement of the business sector is key.”

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