The 2019 General Assembly is just three short months away, to be held in Querétaro, Mexico. WTCA Meridian Editor Alex Brown sat down with Carlos Uribe for a brief interview on why the city is a gem for industry and commerce, and a must-see for anyone looking to explore the heart of Mexico’s promise
Carlos—thank you so much for sitting with us today. Not that you need any introduction to most of our Members, but for those readers who haven’t met you, why don’t you introduce yourself a bit?
It’s a pleasure to be with you. My name is Carlos Uribe and I am the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of WTC Queretaro, I am 27 years old and I have been a part of the WTCA for four years. I consider this one of my greatest personal achievements, since I’ve had the opportunity to make allies around the world and generate business relationships that help both the WTCA and my community promote commercial strategies that result in progress and development.
Great. So, let’s start out with a brief introduction of your city. When you presented Querétaro as a potential host for the 2019 General Assembly, I have to admit I had not heard of the city before, outside of your Membership, of course. But it was such a great place to visit! A best-kept secret, if you will. Can you tell us a bit about the city in general: its history, its present importance, and some of the things that make it a destination?
It definitely was our best-kept secret but it’s time to show the world! Querétaro is one of the most important cities in México, crucial to the development of many industries, businesses, and economic growth.
It also happens to be the country’s number-one tourist destination with no beaches, and that’s not for nothing. It is a beautiful, 400-year old colonial city with a rich history, after all. But what I find most remarkable is its constant growth. I was reading an article in Forbes Mexico which pointed out that in addition to tourism and automotive investment, the aeronautical sector is Querétaro’s “biggest bet.” This city has now become the fourth most important destination in the world for this industry, just below Singapore, Dubai, and Bengaluru. And our industries just keep flourishing! I believe in my city and I am honored that the Board of Directors of the WTCA also did when they chose us as the host for the 50th WTCA General Assembly. It is truly a pleasure for my team and me to take on this endeavor.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the economic importance of the city, and the opportunities there for Members and their local companies, suppliers, buyers, etc. Give us the elevator pitch for why this is a place that people should stand up and take notice of. What are the dominant sectors? What are some of the companies that call Querétaro home that might be of interest for Members?
Of course! As I mentioned just now, the aeronautical sector is one of the driving industries – not only in the country, but in the continent as a whole. Querétaro is home to a multitude of companies in a wide range of industries, including 80 in aerospace, 26 in manufacturing, five in special process, and seven in education, to name a few. The story of Safran in Querétaro is a perfect example of our constant growth, which inevitably, benefits our local community. Safran – an aeronautical company of French origin – manufactures blades and motors, and just happened to inaugurate its sixth plant in our state this past February. This brought on an investment of $100 million USD to produce blades and engines for Boeing aircrafts, and is expected to generate 230 jobs, a number that will increase to 600 in a year or two.
We also have 22 industrial parks and more than 550 export companies, as well as enterprises in biotechnology, telecommunications, IT, automotive, appliances, and the food and beverage industries. And I must add that world-renowned corporations – such as Kellogg’s, Airbus, Nestle, Samsung, and TRW – also have headquarters here, making our city a very attractive place for investors and business leaders.
You attended the 2018 GA in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, which was a great event with an incredibly strong business purpose. It was also a shift in the positioning of the event for the association, and a resounding success—a high bar. Tell us a bit about what you’ll be doing to make a meaningful impression on Members and their company delegations?Y
Absolutely – and yes, I must agree that our predecessor in Leeuwarden set a very high bar for us. I absorbed a lot from that experience to implement some of their great ideas. I really need to commend Evert Jan (known to many of us as EJ) for such a wonderful event in 2018.
Our team is ready, and of course excited, to receive my fellow Members. We’re not going the extra mile – we’re going two, since this happens to be the 50th iteration of the WTCA GA. We’ve been working to create a high-class, interactive event, and that’s how the idea of a business summit took shape. You might have already heard of it as the “WTCA ITS SUMMIT,” which is designed to generate global connections and collaboration among attendees. The summit will showcase Innovation, Technology and Sustainability in the region, particularly focusing on healthcare and research and development (R&D), agriculture and food (agri-food), and aerospace manufacturing.
We will also offer an exhibitor’s fair, where companies from a wide range of industries will get a chance to interact with potential partners, as well as with the general public.
I also must mention something that I’m personally very excited about. When you register for the WTCA ITS SUMMIT 2019, you will be granted access to our My Business Match (MBM) platform. MBM allows you to search for buyers and suppliers and make appointments, so that you can meet with those contacts at the GA in a "speed dating" fashion. The platform is designed so that you are meeting with potential partners who you had a business compatibility of at least 85%.
And then of course, you can’t forget about other aspects of the GA, such as the top-notch speakers, workshops, and just great networking.
For us, the most important thing is that everyone walks away with tangible results and that they reap the benefits of what Querétaro can offer our network and our association.
I also don’t want to leave out the fun stuff! Aside from the historic downtown district—which is incredibly welcoming and charming—I understand there are some beautiful sights and attractions in the area for our Members and their Accompanying Guests to visit. And of course, there will be plenty of time to socialize in unique settings and at the receptions and gala you have planned. Tell us a bit about this?
Well, I don’t want to spoil some of the surprises but I can give you a glimpse. We are organizing company tours to visit some of the most important companies in Querétaro, as well as guided tours to one of the best vineyards in the region. I can’t leave out the spectacular gala, where we will cater gourmet Mexican food (and we promise to offer both spicy and mild options), tequila, mezcal, and mariachis. It will be a wonderful party!
Well it sounds like you have a great event planned, and I am excited to visit again! Is there anything else you’d like to leave us with? A last word, so-to-speak?
Our vision is focused on growing, developing, and attracting not only established markets, but also emerging markets to support them. We believe that these events offer a much more open-minded business perspective based on functional and useful economic models.
We are counting down the days to welcome the entire WTCA community and special guests, and also showcase to the world that in México – especially in Querétaro – we are developing businesses with a progressive outlook to better everyone’s future.
Great—thank you so much for your time Carlos—I know we are all very much looking forward to your GA!
Thank you for this amazing opportunity, and we are anxiously waiting to welcome you at the 50th WTCA GA!
Last month ”WTCA Meridian” featured the launch of the WTCA Foundation’s new programming (see November’s WTCA Meridian for more). and since the end of the year is traditionally seen as the season of giving, we asked Sunil Oommen, Founder of Oommen Consulting, to identify some trends and opportunities in global philanthropy.
Simply defined, philanthropy means the love of humanity. And just as varied and complex as human beings and culture, philanthropic endeavors take many different forms around the world. From large private foundations, to celebrity philanthropists, corporate social responsibility programs, and remittances by immigrant workers to their home countries, one common thread is clear: human beings have an ingrained instinct to give back.
Technological advances and transnational learning have produced a number of trends in global philanthropy, and as a result, interesting opportunities for WTCA Members to make an impact, in addition to the work of its own foundation.
The Rise of Private Foundations
There has been a steep increase in the number of private foundations around the world. This global trend started for two reasons: growing wealth across the planet, and governments’ desire to foster private giving to complement their own budgets and duties for public services.
According to the 2018 Global Landscape of Philanthropy report by the Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS), there are now more foundations in Europe than in the United States, most of which are very young. For example, the number of French foundations more than doubled between 2001 and 2014, and half of Swiss foundations are less than 20 years old. And this trend doesn’t stop at Europe’s edge: In China, approximately 60-65 percent of foundations are now private. Prior to a 2004 regulation that made this possible, most were public and government-run. Meanwhile, technology industry billionaires are creating their own foundations in India, and Russia has seen a growth in foundations that specialize in raising funds.
As these foundations emerge and mature, many might be seeking a competitive advantage by establishing relationships with commercial, civic, and governmental entities to make more of an impact. Given their reach and ambition, a connection to WTCA members and its foundation could be a natural and mutually beneficial fit.
The Rise of Alternative Philanthropic Investments
There has also been growing popularity in alternative ways to use capital to make social impact. Some of the more popular concepts in this space are impact investing, venture philanthropy, socially responsible investing, and program-related investments. Though each has its own distinctions, all are investments made with the intention to generate a measurable and beneficial impact alongside a financial return.
The Global Impact Investing Network estimated that $228 billion was invested in impact-generating investments in 2018, double the prior-year estimate. And the trend is global. While impact investors are predominantly located in North America and Europe, a majority of impact funds are being invested in the developing world. Expect this trend to grow as investors report better performance and alignment on financial and impact returns, and social movements challenge institutions to consider how to make a difference in confronting society’s problems.
While not quite “mainstream” yet, according to a 2018 survey by American Century Investments, 24 percent of respondents said they were very or somewhat familiar with the concept of impact investing, an increase from 20 percent in 2016. Among those most familiar? No surprise: millennials at 32 percent. Moreover, 60 percent of millennials expressed that making an impact on society was an important factor in their investment decision-making.
In the face of greater world challenges and strains on governments to provide what their publics need, the private business sector has an opportunity to make a difference on social and environmental issues while growing the bottom-line and establishing long-term, positive relationships with desired target markets, not the least of which includes the ever more powerful millennial generation.
The Rise of Innovation
Despite the growth in foundations and philanthropy by individuals around the world (with individuals giving far more than institutions in almost every country), most of the problems that donors seek to address still exist. In some cases, they have worsened. For example, the number of forcibly displaced peoples and refugees around the world is the greatest it has been since World War II. In places like the United States where philanthropy is considered an exalted part of the national culture, some societal ills, such as homelessness and hunger, are growing worse. Innovation is seen as an important tool to reverse these trends.
For example, the Case Foundation founded the Be Fearless campaign to inspire grantmakers and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to be bolder and risk failure by experimenting with new ways to make a greater impact on the problems they aim to solve. Even nonprofit industry conferences have transformed entirely to spark new ways of thinking. Upswell, a new summit that has people and ideas collide and brew in energetic and mind-expanding encounters, was created in 2018 to replace U.S.-based NGO Independent Sector’s traditional annual conference. Expect more talk about innovation as once-bedrock sociopolitical institutions continue to transform, and the technology industry explores ways to leverage its powerful platforms to better society.
Just as our businesses and trade are intertwined the world over, so are our social issues. WTCA members have a tremendous opportunity to leverage their international connections and expertise to encourage bolder action by the growing number of foundations around the world, and explore business-friendly ways to invest in social impact.
Sunil Oommen is the President of Oommen Consulting, a boutique fundraising firm that serves corporations and nongovernmental organizations. Please visit www.suniloommen.com to learn more.
New York, NY, USA | The World Trade Centers Association (WTCA) today announced the formation of its first Regional Advisory Council (RAC), the result of several months of work to build capacity on the ground in its regions.
“Our intent with this pilot program is to put additional resources into Europe to help further activate the network, and to do so under the guidance of the RAC,” remarked Rolf Draak, Chair/CEO, World Trade Center (WTC) Nice/Sophia Antipolis, Vice Chair of the WTCA Board of Directors, and the first Chair of the RAC—Europe. “I am happy to report that we have had our first few meetings by phone to set regional priorities, and we are off to a great start.”
The group is comprised of two Directors on the WTCA Board, and three other Members from the region. This first seating of the RAC includes:
Given the staggered nature of the terms on the council, in the future Members in the region will have the opportunity to elect new Members to open seats, or indicate their own interest to serve.
Among the first tasks will be to hire an additional staff person in Europe—the “European Membership Coordinator”—to work in tandem with the RAC and Headquarters to help galvanize engagement in the region, roll out core programming, and address critical issues on the ground. Another important decision that needs to be addressed in short order is to select a location for the 2019 Regional Meeting for Europe. WTCA is now accepting applications from Members who wish to host this meeting, which are due on 19 December 2018.
For more information on the RAC, the new position in Europe, or how to host the 2019 Regional Meeting in Europe, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.