Article: People don’t lack ability, they lack opportunity. An Interview with El Espectador from our director, Ed Broadbent.

Our community director who has been based in Medellín for the past 6 years opened up to some questions about entrepreneurship and leadership. From humble beginnings back in 2016 in the Comuna 13, this project has slowly grown with a global vision to share learning and create opportunities for our community.

We’re proud to have worked with our Storytellers, extended our courses to corporate training and continue to grow our network of amazing allies. Thank you so much to our community for everything you have contributed to Primed and we hope that you stay connected and co-create with us. 

We form a learning community through cultural immersion and language exchange where Colombians and foreigners can learn and develop together. We create an encouraging environment where we are all students, teachers, and allies.

Translation of original article from el Espectador

An Australian who came to our country created a learning community through cultural immersion and language exchange where Colombians and foreigners can learn and develop together. They work with residents of Comuna 13 in Medellín, changing models and building jobs. He already talks about “seeing that the community is becoming bilingual”.

Ed Broadbent is an Australian who in Colombia created a learning community with an impact in areas such as Comuna 13 in Medellín.

Original text in Spanish and published on El Espectador 02/09/2021

What are they doing?

After learning English, many young people do tours of “their community in a responsible way, generating income in a sustainable way”. Once they understand this, many have found employment in the tourism sector, develop their own ventures or enter other positions as translators, in customer service, in call centers and also, they even pass on their knowledge as teachers. In 23 questions for entrepreneurs and their ventures, he tells us how it all began, who has been fundamental in the process, the plans and goals to be met, but above all the value of humility when working in a social enterprise.

1. How old am I? What did I study?

I am 32 years old, I studied psychology and I have a master’s degree in public health with a focus in health promotion. I have been in Colombia for 6 years knowing and connecting with the culture and the community.

2. What was my idea and when was it born? What did I create?

People lack opportunity, not skill. That is why my idea is to share everything that in my life is a privilege to make it become an opportunity and a right for others. English is a great vehicle to learn other skills and develop, to connect globally and expand employment opportunities. We want to be a community that supports opportunities for all.

3. How did I manage to turn it into a reality and make it happen?

I arrived in Colombia ready to make an impact. However, when I started working with traditional foundation models, I was disappointed in their implementation and handling. For this reason I decided to find a way to solve the problems that I had come across.

We form a learning community through cultural immersion and language exchange where Colombians and foreigners can learn and develop together. We create an encouraging environment where we are all students, teachers, and allies.

4. Where did I get the money to make it work and how did I pay for it?

Primed Community started with a few people who wanted to make a positive impact and connect with the community. We financed the start of the project by donating a percentage of our profits to the social projects we facilitate. This model has grown within the Social Educational Institute and is an essential part of our brand where we believe that, together, we can provide quality education opportunities, especially for people in vulnerable situations.

5. What am I achieving with my business? What am I changing with my idea?

Based on the needs we have seen, we support people from communities (such as Comuna 13 in Medellín), to train them in English, life skills and personal development. With the knowledge obtained in the courses, the participants acquire the confidence of working in various roles. We are managing to create job opportunities in the community, for example, storytellers, who do tours in their community in a responsible way, generating economic income in a sustainable way. We have also helped others to find employment in the tourism sector, develop their own ventures and enter other positions such as translators, customer service, call centers and teachers. Very soon we want to offer digital employment opportunities for people in vulnerable situations so that they can work quietly from home.

It is very comforting to have the opportunity to share the beautiful Colombian culture, as well as to see that the community is becoming bilingual, has the joy of knowing about cultures from all over the world, and feels that they have traveled to all parts of the world without leaving the country. 

6. Am I happy?

I am very happy doing what I think I can do to co-create a better world for everyone. It is not that the trip does not have its tests and challenges, but these experiences leave us lessons and strengthen us for the future.

7. Would I sell my business, my company?

We are in the process of connecting with strategic allies to expand the vision of the Primed community nationally and internationally. At this time, and with the support of Recon Colombia, we are sharing the projects so that this undertaking is an opportunity for all. I don’t see myself offering the company completely, but we know that we achieve more in community, so the offering of shares to expand our impact is always on the table for allies who share the vision.

8. How hard was it for me to undertake?

Entrepreneurship in the social sector is difficult as it imposes many demands and does so even more so in pandemic. However, nothing worth accomplishing is easily done, and achievements that come with their costs also have their rewards. It is still hard, but you have to ask yourself, ‘do I want an easy life or one of impact?’

9. Did I fulfill my dream? What am I missing?

I am still fulfilling my dreams because they are unfolding. We want to bring this opportunity to more communities in Colombia and expand the depth of our offering. We believe that we have a global solution to education, not only for populations in vulnerable situations, but to improve corporate training, learning channels and support the development of local enterprises.

10. Now what? What’s Next?

We are expanding our learning community by implementing the project in Medellín, starting processes and implementing pilots in other departments of the country such as Chocó, Bolívar, Amazonas, Cundinamarca and Caldas. We want to connect with strategic allies who want to bring opportunities to populations in vulnerable situations or who can take advantage of integrated English with life skills. These allies can offer social responsibility to your team, opportunities to share their knowledge, provide education and employment opportunities.

11. Is my business scalable?

We are 100% scalable, sustainable, with proven social impact and plans to share and expand. We are in the process of connecting with strategic allies to expand the technological, commercial and social offer to reach more populations and continue developing our learning and training services.

12. To grow, would you receive investment from a stranger? Would I give you part of my company?

Everyone can support community development. We have received anonymous donations and we always use them to develop our social impact and to all the projects we manage. We are scaling our project and connecting with strategic allies who want to contribute and be active.

13. What would you not do again?

I would try to be more efficient regarding time, you realize how much time is worth when you have many dreams to fulfill and only one life. I would also confirm my theories by talking to people who give me a realistic perspective; Many entrepreneurs are dreamers and believe in potential, and while this is what makes us entrepreneurs, it can also blind us to reality.

14. Who inspired me? Who would I like to follow?

You really take advantage of life when you see a teacher in everything. Each person, experience and situation has something to teach and life can continually inspire us. Personally, I am not looking for role models, but for traits and attributes that inspire me. Elon Musk inspires me a lot, but you also have to remember that we are all humans with weaknesses that accompany our abilities.

15. Did I fail at some point? Did I think of throwing in the towel?

Success in entrepreneurship is failing a lot and quickly in order to learn and improve. Nobody is all success and we must remember that what the social networks show is personal advertising. When we learn from our mistakes we are able to advance further and strengthen our projects with the knowledge of others. I once thought of throwing in the towel and it was precisely during this pandemic. These moments are very important in building character. I re-evaluated everything we have done, deconstructed and rebuilt the vision to something stronger, more sustainable and with more impact.

16. Am I part of some kind of community that helps me on this path of undertaking?

Yes, we are a community. From the name Primed Community, to all the training documents and communications of our project. We believe that in community we are stronger, more sustainable and capable of creating and growing. We have connected with thousands of people and remain connected with the communities where we have been. We also have a global network of foreigners.

17. Does what I am doing transcend? Can it impact new generations?

We are contributing to a drastic change in education. From our platform and projects we can provide quality education to vulnerable populations in a more impactful, sustainable and economically viable way than other programs that have been implemented. In addition, we are training and co-creating with communities so that there is a local offer for decent work. Development and learning avoid other negative impacts such as violence, crime and illegal work. Allies that connect with the community can also facilitate this process, share learning and learn from the diversity of Colombia.

18. How do I see myself in 10 years and how do I see my venture, my company in the future?

Gray and happy. If we continue like this, I believe that we will be established nationally with the projects, and internationally with contacts that connect our learning offer and community contribution with the world. This means opportunity for thousands of Colombians and sustainability from the local and community level. I imagine myself reducing my working hours a little bit to enjoy life and working on my personal projects here in Colombia.

19. What role have my family and friends played?

Family and friends function in various roles such as sounding board, emotional support, network connectors, unfiltered judges, and more. They are invaluable resources that we must take care of and use as much as we can.

20. I did it. Would you help other entrepreneurs to do it?

I am and we are always willing to help projects that seem viable and impactful to us. This is what we do with local businesses so that they can access opportunity. Many people have helped me and continue to support me. We are a community and we are inspired by the philosophy of the minga.

21. What role did my team play? Who are they?

It is difficult to achieve anything alone. At Primed Community we recognize the importance of community and teamwork to have an impact. Our community is diverse and spans from our core team, to teachers, volunteers, strategic allies, and the communities where we are.

22. What is my personal brand? What differentiates me from the rest?

Humble and passionate about creating opportunities. I am not here to show off, I am here to bring light where it is needed and support the development of sustainable communities. I had a near fatal accident in India that made me reevaluate and make this decision to share my privileges tso they become rights.

23. What have I learned from all this?

I’m always learning, but I think this project has taught me patience, discipline, resilience, and really who I want to be and how I want to impact the world. We all deserve opportunities to develop.

Original article