Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Building a Symbiotic Sustainable Model: A Community Based Enterprise

Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Building a Symbiotic Sustainable Model: A Community Based Enterprise

Article excerpt


The Role of ADCAM: Linking the Indigenous Entrepreneurs to the Corporate World

ADCAM International was founded in Spain in 2005. ADCAM International, headquartered in Alicante, Spain, stands for Asociacion de Desarrollo, Comercio Alternative y Microcredito in Spanish which can be loosely translated into 'Development, Alternative Trade and Microcredit Association'. It established a chapter in Kenya in 2007 and another in the United States of America (USA) in 2013. The founding President of ADCAM International, Ms. Rosa Escandell had more than twenty years' experience in the corporate and microcredit field before she founded ADCAM International. She had previously worked with Muhammad Yunus, recipient of 2006 Nobel Peace Prize and developed projects in a number of developing nations such as Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Colombia, Mexico, and Argentina among a host of others. ADCAM International has always strongly advocated for the rights of marginalized people to self-determination, meaning that the people themselves must be free to determine the terms of their own development. Sustainable development and self-determination are two sides of the same coin for this organization. There must be a genuine commitment to dealing with both sides simultaneously if sustainable progress is to be achieved. ADCAM International seeks to promote culturally sensitive business opportunities for both developing and developed nations. Symbiotic sustainable models are built on mutually beneficial relationships where the involved parties create shared values. The partners seek to meet their present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. It aims at preserving both cultural and natural heritage while providing a livelihood for the present generation.

For the Maasai and other marginalized communities, ADCAM International was able to understand and relate to their cultural and spiritual issues, and also to act as a bridge between the communities and western markets, thus spanning the divide. ADCAM International attempted to connect the supply (goods and services rendered by the marginalized communities) and the demand (mostly markets in the developed nations) in a fair trade and socially responsible manner. ADCAM International understood cost structures, deadlines and tight market timelines, quality control and value of brand equity required by multinationals as well as the need for a fair return on investment. At the same time it respected the communities' right to determine the terms and pace of their development. After working with several development projects in Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and India among a host of other nations, Ms. Escandell decided that maybe it was time to venture into Africa.


Ms. Escandell's first trip to Kenya was in 2005. As part of her itinerary, the Spanish embassy in Kenya had prepared an impressive lineup of community-based social enterprises to pitch their proposals to her in Nairobi. At this juncture, Ms. Escandell was considering the possibility of working with a local partner, preferably a community-based organization. After three days of non-stop presentations, she was impressed, but none of the proposals really touched her heart. With just a day left before her departure to Spain, an employee at the embassy mentioned in passing a certain Maasai man who had frequented the embassy for the past eight years asking for assistance to build a school in the Mara and a market for the Maasai women to sell their crafts. Ms. Escandell was intrigued by the story of a Maasai man who had the audacity and perseverance to single-mindedly pursue a goal for more than eight years without any tangible results. She told her program coordinator, Ms. Cristina Perez Fortes, "I want to meet this Maasai man; I have never met a Maasai, moreover I am curious to see this man who has not given up after eight years of asking for help to no avail. …

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