Microlending (MED)

Dear Business Leaders

Attached is a recent story (without pictures)in the Fairfield County Business Journal (October 2, 2006) on a Microlending project (MED) in Ecuador that I am working on that I thought would be of interest.

We can apply our skills and talents in many ways. Hope to catch up with you soon.

When you call your business "The Success Coach," those are some rather strong words to live up to, but one look at Doug Campbell’s accomplishments and it’s easy to see why he earns that moniker.

After a string of five successful startups and five years spent with a Fortune 100 in strategic planning and as a marketing director, Campbell knows how to launch a business and take it to the next level.

"I have been a success coach and a CEO coach for about 10 years," the 53-year-old Darien resident said. "I had taught for 10 years before that for MBAs and undergraduate classes. I started the entrepreneur courses program at Sacred Heart University and I have started five businesses so I have always been interested in entrepreneurs and people building businesses."

In his current job as an executive coach, he helps grow an entrepreneurial company or reinvent an established one. Clients have included everyone from Boardroom Reports (in Greenwich) to Nat Nast Clothing (in Wilton) to LeBlanc Communications (in Norwalk).

"I serve as an advisor and help with four broad areas: strategy, marketing, people (such as hiring and training) and finding the right resource such as a person needing a small-business lawyer."

Campbell also does team building and strategy retreats, speaks at multiple trade associations and universities and owns a tutoring business, in Darien, along with his wife, Gwynne, now going on its 22nd year.

When not in the midst of helping executives reach their potential, Campbell spends time volunteering as part of a not-for-profit micro-lending organization in Darien that has done wonders for the economy of Ecuador.

The Fairfield County Microenterprise Council is now in its seventh year and is comprised of about 25 families who have helped thousands of people start businesses in Ecuador.

"What we do is we donate time and money, but we probably take four to five trips a year with a group of people to provide advice and consult," he said. "I’ve been to Ecuador twice now and what we’re doing is basically providing some seed capital to help them start a business … let’s call it a bank, although we’re lending to people who couldn’t borrow from banks and also providing advice for management and the people there."

The area that they concentrate on is called Ogdabalo, which is a volcanic area with a population of about 100,000 and is known as a very talented craft culture and visited by tourists from all over. They have a famous market where most of the businesses they help sell their wares.

"A lot of people we are lending to are making guitars or braided shirts or belts or all kinds of craft material," Campbell said. "They can make it and sell in the market and make enough money in one weekend to pay off their loan for that month. It’s fun to go see them and I’ve bought a lot of things that they have made for my kids."

Since its inception, the council has seen the portfolio in Ecuador grow from $150,000 to $3.4 million.

"We figured that for every person we help start a business, it probably helps five additional people and we’ve done 8,000 so it’s about 40,000 people whose lives have changed," Campbell said.

They also work in conjunction with Worldvision which does a lot for economic development and also supplies a country representative who helps choose those who will get the loans. Recently, the council added two more countries: Chile and the Dominican Republic.

Helping others start businesses was obviously a draw for someone with Campbell’s background, but there was an international component that interested him as well.

"In a previous life I had studied in Spain in college, I wrote a book on international law and I worked for the United Nations so I spent four to five years in the international world and I love the Spanish culture so it really caught my attention internationally again," he said. "It’s been a wonderful learning experience."

On one trip a few years ago, Campbell took his then 17-year-old daughter Caroline with him to visit some of the people who they were helping. He says the people of Ecuador were so grateful and opened up their homes to them.

"What I’ve gotten out of this has been tremendous," he said. "To see how such a small token of effort has changed people’s lives. They are so appreciative and so grateful and even though here’s someone who may not read or write, he’s making a good living and the kids help, so there’s a lot of pride there. It’s an extraordinary business."


All the best.