Clinica Verde was designed with a small cafe connected to the clinic, as a place where patients could relax and buy healthy food while offering a small business opportunity for a member of the local community. Cony de Fatima Acevedo Corrales stepped forward to take on the business. However, we quickly realized Cony could benefit from small business counseling to learn how to manage her costs and market her business. Enter Kelli Stam. Born and raised in Long Island, New York, Kelli attended college at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. After school, she jumped into the world of advertising, developing brands such as the Colorado Lottery, ESPN, Virgin, Sony and more.
But after a while, Kelli decided it was time to use her work to do good and to give back. She hung up her advertising agency career (at least for now) and entered the Peace Corps. She now lives and works in Boaco, Nicaragua as a small business development volunteer. Her primary work is in high schools in the community, training teacher counterparts to teach a kick-ass class called Emprendedurismo to juniors and seniors. In this class, the students learn how to start and maintain a business and the class takes the form of a project in which they form groups and start their very own businesses. In addition, Kelli advises small business owners in the Boaco community.
Kelli was just what we needed to help Cony get off and running. Now, Kelli meets with Cony once a week to help her develop and improve her business. We asked Kelli to tell us about the experience.
Tell us a little about what you're doing to develop Cafetin Verde with Cony.
Clinica Verde is located outside of the city center of Boaco and while there are many buses and taxis that pass by there is no foot traffic like there is in the city. The Cafetin, located in the front part of the Clinic, is new and was without a name and had no visibility.
Given this situation, Cony and I worked together to present a recommendation to the Clinic for a name: Cafetin Verde. And then worked on getting signage, which is now up!
In addition, we have identified other areas of need for the business and are tackling those issues over the coming months. Our action plan includes more publicity and awareness for the Cafetin Verde (we plan to make some simple brochures), implementation of a basic accounting system in order to track costs and income (which we have already put in place), and the development of a unique food product in order to draw people in for something that they can only get at the Cafetin Verde (we are thinking healthy smoothies).
What has been the biggest challenge?
Working with Cony has been amazing. She is a dream project for a Peace Corps volunteer since she truly wants the help and truly wants to improve.
The biggest challenge is the lack of disposable income that the communities have to spend on food outside of the home. The communities that the Clinic serves are some of the poorest communities and it is challenging to establish prices that allow us to do much more than cover Cony’s costs.
What's the goal?
Our goal is to find ways to save costs and increase Cony’s profits so that she can sustain a healthy business for both her clients and for her family’s needs.
What brings you the greatest satisfaction working on this project?
Generally speaking, I get the greatest satisfaction from the sense that I get that Cony feels supported and empowered, that she has an advocate in me, and someone who she can trust. In terms of specific successes and the resulting satisfaction from them, I am confident that day has yet to come.
Dear Global Giving Supporters:
We've been busy at Clinica Verde these past couple months! Since our opening in January of this year, we've seen over 6,500 patients. Under the able guidance of our Clinic Director Jennifer Owen, the staff has been fine-tuning processes and procedures, constantly looking for ways to improve our services. We're so proud of the dedication and commitment of our Nicaraguan staff to our goals and mission! Here are some highlights:
• Peace Corps volunteer Liz Malenk has been providing weekly "charlas" (talks) on Nutrition and the importance of getting Pap tests at the clinic, regularly engaging patients in our waiting room with her visual presentations. Patients are responsive and attentive!
• Peace Corps volunteer Kelly Stam has been proving business counseling to Connie, the woman who rents our on-site cafe, to help her turn it into a successful business. Kelly is working with Connie on marketing, managing costs and growing the business. Connie has decided to call it Cafe Verde!
• HIGHER (Helping in Global Health and Education Reform), our Clinica Verde summer program for teens, is off to a good start. The students have been certified in Basic Life Support, have been practicing their medical Spanish at a local community clinic in California, and learned how to suture on pigs' feet. The students head to Nicaragua for 2 weeks on July 15!
• We happy to welcome two new advisors: Dr. Robert Moore and Jonathan Drewry. Dr. Moore will serve as Chief Medical Advisor to the Board. He is currently chief medical officer at Partnership HealthPlan of California (PHC). Prior to that he served for 13 years as Medical Director of Clinic Ole, a non-profit community health center serving migrant and agricultural workers in Napa, As a medical student, Bob spent time in Managua, Nicaragua at Bertha Calderon Women's Hospital and Lenin Fonseca Hospital studying the primary health care system. Jonathan Drewry is currently finishing his Ph.D. has a Master's in Public Health and is currently completing his dissertation at the University of Alabama on health care organization and policy with a concentration in maternal and child health. He's also worked as Director of Community Health with the US Peace Corps in Nicaragua and as a Community Environmental Health Advisor with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We are grateful for the contributions of both Bob and Jonathan!
• Our awesome (possibly superhuman) Clinic Director, Jennifer Owen, is returning to the States after 6 months in Nicaragua helping to get Clinica Verde launched. Jennifer's work has consistently impressed the Board – we simply could not have made the progress we have without her able leadership. We will miss her dearly – but are heartened by the fact that she'll stay involved with Clinica Verde once she returns to the States.
• We are happy to welcome Dr. Alba Castillo as our new Clinic Director. Dr. Castillo is an M.D./MPH whose specialty is in Pediatrics. She served as a consultant on maternal-infant health to USAID working to improve quality of attention, developing standards and measurements for quality for hospitals serving women and children and providing data analysis on processes and results from the country's plan to reduce maternal mortality and improve neonatal services. Dr. Castillo also served for 10 years as Coordinator for the Program on Integral Childhood Health focusing on Nutrition for the Ministry of Heath, providing training to staff on new standards of growth and development for children, including early stimulation, lactation, human rights for children and adolescents, family planning, and domestic violence. You will hear more from her in the coming months!
But most importantly, we continue to reach out and touch the lives of the patients we serve. Thanks for being such a vital part of our success! Feel free to email me anytime with questions: email@example.com.
Hola, Awesome Supporters:
Just wanted to check in with you to give you an update on our first 3 months of full operations! From January through March, we saw 3,310 patients at Clinica Verde: 2,451 females and 859 males. Our staff has been working hard!
Our Clinic Director, Jennifer Owen, reported this recent story that makes all of us proud and illustrates the spirit and intention of our excellent staff in Nicaragua: "A busload of women and children showed up today from some pueblo quite a ways away. By the time the bus got here, all our consults for the morning had been given out (they got here at 7:30 a.m.). The waiting room was packed, but the staff immediately sprung into action. Dr. Zeledon popped up to do some "charlas on" cervical cancer to keep people occupied, Yazmina and Leticia worked the busload of women to see who we needed to treat urgently and who could wait, and Iris continued to process the patients who were waiting before 7 a.m. Our staff made a good faith effort to accommodate what we could, and that means a lot!"
We also have community volunteers from the capital of Managua eager to help us out – including 2 dentists who will be visiting the clinic next week to provide cleanings and education on dental hygiene to a group of children and their mothers. Every day there are new challenges and new gains – and it continues to be a great honor to do this work.
Thanks to all of you for sticking beside us on this meaningful journey. We are thankful for you every day!
p.s. We always have equipment needs at the clinic. If any of you works for an organization that may be able to help us, please let me know! You can contact me directly anytime at: firstname.lastname@example.org