Closing this chapter. Really?

Hola everybody,

Welcome to the, most probably, last post in this blog. It’s Tuesday, and by now really all of the 12 Orchids left Bogota. The most for getting home, a few for recreation. I am sure all of us have lots of moments when we look back and try to reflect on what has all happened. It was an awesome and crazy experience. But lets start with the last week.

The final week was pretty intense for us and also our customer Fundacion Capital. Having the final presentation on Thursday, we were still not sure we can deliver everything we wanted by Monday or even Tuesday night. We had all our observations, results and recommendations in mind, but bringing it into a deliverable form was quite challenging. It was so much and from so many different areas. But also in this challenging time the great relationship with the customer but even more within the small sub team helped a lot. When ever one got stuck we had a team meeting and helped each other with brainstorming, feedback and new ideas. And I can’t really tell why and how, but that always helped and after that we could continue and finish our work.


Thursday was be the big presentation day. In the morning for the leadership team and in the afternoon we presented to the whole team in Bogota plus many on the phone. In total we had over 6 hours and there was lively feedback and discussions. The positive feedback and reactions where great and the commitment from Franz: “We start implementing the recommendations, starting tomorrow” was the best. We came four weeks ago to work hard to have an impact, and with this statement from the VP for Latin America, we got the feedback we exactly achieved that. This made us very happy and also a little bit proud. At the end we created more than 90 slides from scratch and lots of additional Doc’s and XLS’s. That it became so much and how that happened, none of us could really tell.

In a small celebration for 2 years Little Big Money, Foundation Capitals crowdfunding platform, we three also became “official” Fundakies, demonstrated with three bees on a cake. The bee is the logo for Foundation Capital, the company that we feel attached to so much already.


Our presentation ended with the personal Takeaways. Mine was the openness and honesty we experienced in all conversations and meetings. People where surprised on how fast we got to all the topics that challenges this great, successful and fast growing company. But the reason for that lies in the company itself: the clear dedication. While I often have to deal with politics and own agendas, in these four weeks everybody really only had one mission, doing good. That makes the interaction so easy and effective, that was a real surprise for me. I have the greatest respect for this heavily committed great professionals who work so hard to have a positive impact for the many people who are excluded in so  many ways.

So, how does it end now? It doesn’t! We as a team decided that we don’t just want to give recommendations and then leave. We want to further support Foundation Capital on their way to implement what we have worked out. We already have mail exchange and conference calls are set up. So for us the Social Sabbatical does not only last 4 weeks, but it goes on. And that is awesome.

We all learned that we can be professionals, using all our skills and expertise, and still can do good. That will impact the way we work in the future. Maybe this can also be an inspiration for some of the readers of the blogs and articles from the 12 Bogota Orchids.

All the best, Adios,



Weekend fantasy 

On 3rd Saturday, Bogota Orchids went off to Colombia first wonder: Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira. It is an underground Roman Catholic Church built within the tunnels of a salt mine 200 metres. I could even taste the salt in the air while I travelled down this salt mine with our Spanish speaking tour guide. The reason on why this salt mine started to become a cathedral because the miners originally craved a sanctuary in there  as a place for their daily prayers asking for protection to the saints before starting work.

Over time, this became a magnificent cathedral with all these grand monumental crosses.

Towards the end of the tour,we had a 3D show and some of us went through miner experience going through pitch black tunnel. The bogota orchids miners managed to have some salt as their wages for all the hard work picking salt.


On Sunday, Bogota Orchids split into three groups. Me, Sabrina, Sheri, Gerda and Divi decided to visit a bit of mountain valleys at this place called,Villa de Leyva. It is a famous colonial town with streets paved in stones. It was the local election day too. We saw crowds of Colombians at the poll stations and quite a sight for us being the few rare foreigners at the town. We spent a lovely morning and lunch before we headed back to Bogota city.


Un abrazo!


More Meetings and a Field Visit to Cazuca with the Sole Colombia Team

Coming into the Social Sabbatical program, we knew there would be pressure to deliver strong results that would create positive and sustainable results to allow Fundacion Capital to succeed even moreso in the future, but now that we are coming to the last week of the program, we can definitely start to feel the pressure of time.  We’ve grown a very close relationship to the client, and they are really trusting us as trusted advisors, and looking to us to help with their overall vision and strategy.

We had some great open dialogue with the client’s CFO and HR consultant, and we feel really good about what we would like to recommend and what we would like to try to achieve over the last week, as they were very open, honest, and sincere in our discussions.  The meetings lasted until 8pm, and then we grabbed a very tasty Peruvian meal at a nearby restaurant to finish off the day 🙂


On Friday we decided to work at the SAP Colombia office in the morning time, as we had a Field Visit with Sole Colombia to a Sole session in Cazuca (south of Bogota).  The views at the office are second to none:


We had a productive brainstorming session and meeting, but we were happily interrupted by some colleagues from the Bogota office as part of “Fun Friday”, and we were given some chocolate covered strawberries to enjoy as a snack.


We also had a minute to take a quick picture for the SAP month of service.  Georg, Gek and I have definitely improved our physiques during our stay in Bogota 🙂


Traffic was pretty crazy as we headed back to the hotel at lunch time to meet the Sole team.  It took us almost an hour to reach the hotel (if there was no traffic it would have been a 15 minutes drive).  Due to the traffic we didn’t have time to grab lunch so we rushed to the bus station to meet the Sole team.


We were travelling to Cazuca which is just south of Bogota, and we were told that it wasn’t that safe a city, as a lot of displaced people in Colombia are placed into the town.  We were told not to bring an valuables or our iPhones, so unfortunately we weren’t able to take many pictures.

We reach the town shortly after 2pm, and it actually looked like a normal town, but we were told that there was a curfew for kids at 5:30pm, and that there were restrictive boundaries within the town that people had to stay within, due to troubles with gangs.  The good thing was that there were truces between the gangs to allow children and young adults to roam free during the day, but it was sad to hear that the kids couldn’t be outside beyond 5:30pm…

Once we arrived in the town, we went to a small kindergarten/after-school centre to meet some kids for the Sole session.  The kids were all Elementary school aged, and seemed to be fascinated by us, as we were a team consisting of people all over the world.  Sadly, some of these kids don’t get to go beyond the town limits, and some haven’t even had the chance to go to Bogota which is only 30 minutes away…  It was great to see the kids were happy to see us, and had smiles on their faces.  We first sat in with the kids for a Sole session (basically kids use computers and the internet for a self learning session), and we got to see first hand how bright some of these kids were.  They had a good grasp of how technology works, and you could see that some of the kids were extremely bright.  Hopefully these kids will have the resources and support to pursue their academic studies, as the sky is the limit for these kids.

After the Sole session, we went to the soccer field to take part in some fun activities and to play some soccer with the kids.  The kids were so cute, and then we were asked to play against a group of teenagers in a game of soccer that we lost 😦  The high elevation sucked the air out of some of us, and being out of shape definitely did not help me!  I better start to exercise more often once I get back home…


The day was truly an eye-opener for me, and I really enjoyed being with the kids, and seeing the direct impact NGOs and Social businesses have on communities and people that are less fortunate.  It was very sad to hear about how some of these kids live, but at the same time, it was beautiful to see the smiles on their faces, and I no realize that the smallest gestures can really brighten up people’s days.  I’ll definitely look for more opportunities to volunteer, after seeing the impact we can have on the less fortunate.


Midway through Week 3

Amazingly, this is our Social Sabbatical Week 3 in Bogota, Colombia. Mixed feelings stirred inside me when a lady from our client asked us, “How long will we be staying for?” on Tuesday lunch. The thought of only 10 days more in this beautiful country, yummy food, passionate locals made me sad and at the same time, I did miss my family a lot. A part of me was kinda glad that I would be going home soon, surviving this trip, hopefully in one piece. Some of my team mates been sick and went to hospital. One has a pickpocket incident.  Also there was an excitement of looking forward to our end results for our client and I couldn’t wait for the final presentation.

IMG_3276(Yummy Fish Stew for Tuesday’s Worker Lunch)

It was the same Tuesday when we, these three SAP musketeers held a two days’ workshop packed into one day’s workshop from 8am to 6:15pm. Amazingly(second time I use this word), all our participants survived the four exercises brain-storming. We are still very thankful for their kindness and creativity. Lots of fun and laughter came when we played two warm up games.

What business model could you think out of a hair straighter, a cup and a tape?  Here is one comes out from the remote participants doing a breakfast business.


We went through this video  talking about social enterprise Grameen Danone where a dollar donated could be recycled to have more social impact. Viability culture was educated through this workshop.

IMG_3278(Tuesday’s Business Model Development and Innovation Workshop)

Although we were all exhausted, the extremely positive feedback from our participants made this whole experience extremely rewarding. We, these three SAP musketeers had a very sweet dream sleep that night.

Ciao, and more to come.

Stay tune to our blog posts!


Coffee, finally

Hello everybody,

For those of you who know me, me encantar el cafe, I love coffee and espresso. I consider myself a “Hobby Barista”. So being in Colombia for two weeks now without even coming close to a coffee plantation does not sound right. So, last Saturday we all decided to visit a coffee place nearby. Not really a major plantation, but for getting there would require flying again and that was no option this time for the team.


We were picked up early in the morning and two hours later we reached Cafe Coloma. A really nice place with a wonderful garden.


We got a two hour tour explaining and showing the full process from growing the coffee plants, picking, unpulping, drying, roasting, grinding, brewing and finally drinking.


We had a really nice day, even though we only got one single cup of coffee 😀

On the way back to Bogota we ran into the same crazy traffic we have to deal with every day. If you count the lines with motorcycles the Colombians can fit 6 rows on 2 lanes. We stopped at the city center for a nice lunch and then went to Plaza Bolivar.


As you can see on the pictures, we have great weather here in Bogota and the prefect temperature: +/- 20 degree Celsius. And this not only that day, but more or less every day of the last 2,5 weeks. I carry my umbrella and rain coat every day (as we have been told it can rain every moment :-)), but so far not used it once. Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely not complaining – I know how the weather is like in Europe. So we are all happy about that.

Oh, by the way, the last weekend already marked the half of our stay here in Bogota. Two weeks that feel like month. Two more to come …

Hasta pronto,


Adiós, Second Week in Bogota.

Our three musketeers adventure continues into 2nd October week at our client’s site.

(A Bogota Daily Scene)
Everyday is a new learning day for us on Colombia’s culture, people and within our team dynamics.
In our daily conversation with the locals, some interesting topics arose like women with families working. October 25th is election day in Bogota.A Colombian guy discusses broken families which is a topic in Bogota election.and he think the solution is to stop women working. And if any woman has a fleeting thought of doing something else than household chores, she can take a walk outside and come back to her house wife role. These kind of local interactions help us to understand Bogota locals beyond the books. Food and transport are not expensive to us but give us an indication what the living standards of the locals, bearing in mind how lucky we are to be living in a more wealthy country.  Our social motivation in delivering impactful results grows stronger each day as we live closely to the locals. Coming from a big corporate company, we have no experience in working for a social sector. Now, close engagement with a NGO which is being transformed into a social enterprise keep us learning more on social aspects what a NGO and a social enterprise means.
Change is a key element in our daily work and it is a challege to predict what will come next.
I love the message in the video below which says it is easy to miss something you’re not looking for.

So far, we have been in good hands under the lovely care of Lizza, our local coordinator and Magali our client project manager.

(Gek with the Military Officer)

There are times where we have to be careful looking after ourselves. Prehaps Daniel’s yoga style thinking sessions help in our times of survival.

(Daniel in his yoga thinking posture)

Among the three of us, Georg is still leading in his Spanish picking up skills.


Amore from Gek

 (Gek’s Colombian Colours)

Weekend Trip to Caragena!

2 weeks before out departure to Bogota, the entire Bogota Orchids team decided to take a weekend trip to Cartagena for some team building.  It was a great way to finish off our first ‘work week’, and an even greater opportunity to get to know one another.

Here is some information on Cartagena (pronounced car-ta-hey-na):

Cartagena or Cartagena de Indias, is a city on the northern coast of Colombia, on the Caribbean Sea.  It is the fifth-largest city in Colombia and has a population of 1 million.  The city was founded on June 1, 1533, and named after Cartagena, Spain, but settlement in the region around Cartagena Bay by various indigenous people dates back to 4000 BC.  During the colonial period Cartagena served a key role in administration and expansion of the Spanish empire.  It was a center of political and economic activity due to the presence of royalty and wealthy viceroys.  In 1984 Cartagena’s colonial walled city and fortress were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We took an early morning flight on Saturday:

airport airport1

Upon arrival we could quickly feel the humidity in the heat.  It was only 30 degrees, but the air was extremely wet, causing some of us to start sweating upon landing.  We checked into our hotel (the Holiday Inn Express we stayed at was extremely nice), and then we were off on a 6 hour walking tour.  There was a lot to see, but the heat was quite intense:

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Some impressive graffiti artwork:

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Our group photographer (Steffen) hard at work:


Who can take the better selfie???


The view from La Popa Monastery (a small monestary on the top of a mountain):

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The Castillo San Felipe de Barajas:

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An awesome group selfie (by the selfie master, Rene):


We went to Rosario Island (The Islas del Rosario) the next day for some much needed rest and relaxation:

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It was sad to leave, as we had a great time in Cartagena, but it’s now time to get back to work!



Week 1 Recap

The first week definitely went by in a blur!

Our full team of the Bogota Orchids met for our ‘first’ official meeting on the morning of  October 4th:

first meeting

After a quick debriefing of our teams, projects, and timeline, we went for a tour of the city:


A very interesting place to keep extra gas in Bogota:


The next day we went to the SAP Colombia office to meet with our host organizations/clients for the first time:


We even had time for a big group photo:


Our second ‘home’ for the month of October (Fundacion Capital’s office):


Gek was quick to make a new friend at the office:


A traditional Colombian lunch (Yummy!), along with Georg’s healthy juice of the day (is that water blended with grass???):

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A quick team photo walking back to the office after lunch:


Our ‘go to’ coffee shop to stay awake after a long day’s work:

coffee1 coffee2

Georg hard at work in our team’s after hours ‘home office’:


The first work week went by far too fast.  We learned a lot about our host organizations by interviewing all of the project leads, senior management, and executive team members, and we finally finished our Scope of Work.  Although we took on quite a bit of work, and increased our scope within our SOW, we’re very confident as a group that we’ll be able to make a real meaningful and positive contribution to Fundacion Capital, in order to help them foster their growth, and make a positive difference to those people that live in poverty in.


Discussions, discussions, eye-rollings…

discussionfranz (Discussion with Georg, Franck, Ulf)

Today is our day four in FundaK. We have the privilege of meeting the FundaK company employees from various projects. It is amazing to see their vision and share the passion by now being part of this family.

These few days, our focuses have been intensive discussions and research into our client organisation FundaK.

(One of our brainstorming session with Georg, Franz from FundaK, Ulf in the picture)

FundaK has been very kind to show us the best lunch places around our office. Through our meals spanish lessons, we learn “super rico” is something we must not say to a woman. Jugos are juices and lulu which is a local fruit produces very yummy juice. Our Spanish vocabulary bank is getting richer along with our Bogota experience. Georg seems able to chat with our cab driver in Spanish on our daily transport to the office and back from it.  Stay tune for more Spanish fun!

lunch (“Worker lunch” with Georg, Magali, Daniel )

Un abrazo, ^^


Hola from Gek

I am a Singaporean Chinese who lived in United Kingdom.With extraordinary luck, I am there with an amazing team of 12 SAP international employees doing SAP Social Sabbatical 2015/2016 called  Bogota Orchids. I work in Global Services and Support Organisation focusing on customer engagement and support.

We officially started our SAP Social Sabbatical 2015/2016 launch at SAP Colombia on Monday October 5 2015 . There are four client organizations – SOLE Colombia, Gensys, Fundacion Capital and Proyectar Sin Fronteras. These organizations are doing fantastic work within Colombia and other regions of Latin American.

mapbogota(Locations of our  SAP Social Sabbatical 2015/2016 Clients in Bogota)

Daniel Lee from SAP Canada and Georg Fischer from SAP Germany . Fundacion Captial is our selected client. Fundacion Captial focus on empowering people from poverty and extreme poverty though financial inclusion, capacity building and by promoting investment. They help millions of families to fulfil their goals and define their own paths out of poverty. These six weeks of prework and 3 days of client meetings have been very inspiring. We got to hear from Ulf Beckmann our mentor in person on how last year’s Social Sabbatical has changed him personally and professionally. These few days have opened up my heart and mind to embrace this beautiful country Colombia and its passionate people. Chinese has a saying 养兵千日,用在一时. Its translation is to train the soldiers for a thousand days and use them for that moment. This is so true for me at this moment. I am excited to share everything I know, I have with Bogota Orchids: the professional development training from SAP and Singapore education. And it is the same for my other team members who share their insights, experience and knowledge with me. I would say in dutch “Gek’s experience” bonding with 11 strangers in such a short time. Please read more from other Bogota Orchids’ team mates’ blog posts @

If you like Team Genesis Facebook, please like them. =)

Hasta Pronto,

Gek alias Chief Geeky Officer in Team Fundacion Capital

fundK(Daniel, Maia, Gek, Amy, Georg)