Digital nomad, Dino shares his epic entrepreneurial journey and some of the big social questions that have led him to join the _Social Starters programme this summer, working with sustainable fashion brand, Juta Shoes.
Hello! My name its Dino, I’m 31 years old and I started my company when I was just 20. I began selling electronics products with the small amount of money that I earned during an experience in the USA, cleaning houses and as a waiter with the Work and Travel programme. A few months later, I went into business with my best friend to grow the business together. We began buying and selling products and increasing our small capital step by step.
When I was 21, we decided I should travel to China to find suppliers so we could provide better prices for our customers and at the same time improve our profits (we were selling MP3s, MP4s, phones etc. at the time). On this trip, I found one supplier that we weren’t sure we could trust, so we decided to hire my partner, a Math teacher (we were 21 and 20 years old so we didn’t have too many contacts) to offer him a job living in China and checking that our products were ok before sending shipments. Since that decision, from 2007- 2009, we increased our sales, many companies in Argentina started ordering products from us and even giving us advance payments because we did not yet have enough liquidity to support them. At this point, we opened 3 offices and hired more than 20 people.
In 2009, the Argentinian government changed the importing rules to protect the domestic market so all of a sudden, we were in trouble. That trouble was in fact our best chance to improve our business. We decided to go into other countries, finding importers interested in producing their brands in our factories. We signed contracts with our suppliers where we would manage all their sales, and we began doing online marketing, calling and travelling with the single goal of getting as broad a customer base as possible across Latin America. We developed brands of electronics products, carried out brand designs and continue to have a multidisciplinary business footprint today, conducting product quality and financial control, and continuous process improvement. We signed with WalMart and many other customers in Mexico first, then Panama, Colombia… and we now have offices in Argentina and China, and clients in Mexico, Colombia, Panama, Uruguay, Chile and Peru.
Yet, having achieved all of these goals, I started realising that selling for the sake of selling made little sense to me. So, I started travelling and looking for an answer. I handed over most of my tasks to the team so I could have the time to investigate what was wrong with my feelings about money, profits, and social inequality…
Our future company goals are to help lead our stakeholders towards becoming social entrepreneurs, starting with finding a way for our Chinese partners to earn a Fair Trade certification or similar, as this would signify that the more we sell, the better off the community and environment will be.
Why? We live in a world that offers us everything we need naturally, but we still have not learned to take advantage of it in an intelligent way. We cannot keep this up long-term – the only way to be able to prosper on this planet in the future is by learning to live in another way.
The amount of garbage we generate.
The amount of energy we consume.
Carbon footprint, in hectares per capita.
Through many stories and many adventures, we find that there is another way. That this exists, that this is being done and that it works.
Organizations that work in this way include Community Interest Companies (England), Fair Trade (worldwide), B-Corps and Cooperatives. These movements are using different methodologies with the aim of creating balanced production and distribution chains that can be sustained over time.
These examples teach us how the people who participate in this way have a clear purpose and a full life of positive experiences, how they live in a connected and coherent way with the environment that surrounds them.
In the Western world, this is not common and we are suffering a very deep vocational crisis where many do not know what to do or why they do what they do and suffer a dissociation between life and work.
It is ridiculous to continue living like this knowing that there is another way. That there are people, in what we think are underdeveloped countries, that have a standard of living markedly superior to what we call ‘first world countries’, and that the metrics that we are using to measure progress have little meaning.
The way to do that, like everything important, is very simple.
No need to know anything, no need to travel, no need to spend much time.
It just needs to be decided. Every purchase we make is a decision. We call this the democratic purchase (or future purchase). If we buy democratically, we feed healthy and balanced production, and distribution chains that empower this new philosophy
This is ‘democratic purchase’. When we decide to buy something, we are voting in favour of that chain of distribution. If that chain is unfair, or destructive, we are voting for that. And now there are fair purchase chains, why not vote for them?
But is this not more expensive?
No, it’s not more expensive. If the majority vote and use their democratic purchase – we buy balanced chains that then become the status quo and are not more expensive.
Many times we think about peace and hunger in the world and we attack the problem without seeing the root cause. War and hunger are not a problem in themselves but a consequence of the way we choose to spend our money.
That is why I want to be part of the change that I want to see in the world.
That is why I want to be part also of _Social Starters, as it one of the many organisations that are working with social business to develop some of these new market ideas.
You can learn more about how your skills and experience could help make a difference to social enterprises on our next Autumn programme HERE.
You can also join us at our upcoming “How to transition into a social sector career” event on Wednesday 30th May. Find more details HERE…