Before the pandemic, working with a group of friends, we realized that in some sectors of society the Church is not well regarded. Some because of misconceptions they have had in their personal formation, but most because of lack of knowledge. The best way to present a more attractive face is through the testimony, in particular, of the number of people who, because of their faith, try to live the works of mercy.
Most people don't know the things that Christians do for their neighbors, especially for the most needy. So we set out with a group of businessmen to find these social initiatives, help them grow and tell their stories so that more and more people would be attracted to this light. Thus was born Waki Maki which in Quechua means "To lend a hand".
We saw that we should focus on social enterprises that have proposed to carry out projects in the areas of the culture of life and the culture of encounter. This was a big challenge because there is no database in the country that includes them.
So it was a process of patience and learning. We had planning meetings with the team to build in the best possible way the project we had in mind.
The beginnings of Waki Maki
The first Waki Maki activity took place in April 2022 and consisted of a challenge, the idea was to engage the initiatives by offering them training sessions and, based on what they learned, to present documents explaining the possible improvement of their own projects. Finally, to participate for two prizes of 5,000 dollars.
For this we have two categories, the first one is called ideaThe project was designed for projects that were starting up or looking to start a new area based on an initiative that was already in operation.
The other category was called growthfocused on projects that already had a track record and were looking for improvement.
The first step was to call for numerous social work initiatives. We had the support of Universidad Hemisferios, Asociación de Empresarios Católicos, Cáritas, and AEI (a very large private business association in Ecuador).
We made calls to foundations and NGOs and sent many emails. In addition, we used social networks such as Whatsapp groups and publications on Instagram and Facebook to extend the invitation to all those who were interested in acquiring the tools to enhance their management to help the community.
Registrations closed on April 6 and 150 projects were registered. A first filter was used to validate the application forms, 100 were selected. Throughout the challenge we established a direct and permanent communication channel to resolve their concerns or address their comments.
The training sessions were held on April 19 and 20 and focused on the use of social networks, volunteer management, marketing for fundraising, financing, among others. During the training 80 initiatives were constantly connected and 60 presented the requirements to advance to the second phase.
On April 26 was the one-on-one mentoring day where the 11 finalists had the opportunity to discuss and receive feedback on their projects with each mentor for 10 minutes.
Finally, the committee selected the winner of each category. The Capabilities Care Center and the Sisters of the Touch of Assisi were the winners of the idea and growth categories respectively.
We held an awards ceremony where we were able to talk with the winners and learn from their experience both in the challenge and in their work with the community. We are happy with the results obtained and are eager to undertake more Waki Maki activities to link private enterprise with social aid projects and thus give us a hand to enhance the good deeds that the Church does in our society.