The 34-day experience in Nepal, where he worked as a volunteer in an orphanage, changed the life of the company manager Eduardo Mariano, aged 26. What he experienced with the children and adolescents of this Asian country made him forget his plans of being an executive to encourage humanitarian projects. Therefore, in that week, the Exchange do Bem was born — an interchange company that connects people who want to be volunteers in actions developed in Africa, Asia and the Americas.
Graduated by UFRGS, the young man born in Santa Rosa and raised in Uruguaiana, had a promising career in an IT multinational company, where he worked first as an intern for three months, and then after as an employee. The search for an experience abroad took him to France in 2012 through an agreement with the Kedge Business School. He studied subjects such as marketing, finances and international politics. Ten months later, he left for Nepal.
It was something that I wanted to do for a long time. I picked up the list of HDI (Human Development Index) and I started looking from the bottom up. I started to look for places that I wanted to visit and needed help. — he said.
In the country located on the mountain slopes of the Himalayas, whose economy is based on agriculture and tourism, Eduardo lived and worked in an orphanage with children aging from three to sixteen. He played and helped in the maintenance, in the kitchen and with the studies. He even gave English classes in the school of the region.
They are children who get very much attached to us. I would spend the entire day with them. It was the holiday season and also the rainy season — added the young man, who was called, in Nepalese, "little brother".
When he returned to Brazil, Eduardo returned to the multinational where he worked before. He wanted to move up in his career quickly, but stopped when he realised that his efforts were mainly to "make a billionaire even richer". It was when he read the book The Promise of a Pencil by Adam Braun.
He was a consultant who was not satisfied with the life he had and decided to create an organisation that built schools. I realised that I wanted to do something like this when I was halfway through the book — he said.
Encouraged by Braun's story, the manager decided to plan the Exchange do Bem. He gathered his savings, sold his car and set up the company last Sunday. Tomorrow, he will embark on a journey to Africa with the objective of showing the daily life of volunteers for 50 days through social networks. He will pass through South Africa, Uganda, Ghana and Kenya, four of the 14 countries where the company already has contacts.
In Brazil, the Exchange do Bem intends to contribute with a project for access to education in the favela of Rocinha in Rio, in addition to other initiatives. Eduardo's job is to bridge the gap between those who want to be volunteers and those who need help: he closes the partnerships, sees if the locations are suitable to receive people, searches for accommodation and other facilities.
Part of the profits will finance social projects.
Because he believes that education is a means to promote social change, 10% of the company's profits will be invested in projects in Brazil, such as the one of Rocinha:
The education that can change. Most poor children are out of primary education. It is important for them to be included, from an early age, so that we can start to build the character, which will follow them throughout their life.
And also believing that change happens in the long term, Eduardo sees his life project in the same way. He is not expecting a financial return this year. However, with time, he expects his profit and the profit of his partner, who joined him last month, to come about. He hopes to use more money in social projects.
I want to help rebuild a school in Nepal, which was destroyed in the earthquake, via a British NGO that works in this — says Eduardo about the country that suffered an earthquake last year, causing the death of thousands of people and leaving millions homeless.
Countries with which Exchange do Bem has partnerships: Nepal, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, India, South Africa, Uganda, Ghana, Kenya, Peru, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Haiti and Brazil.