Where Teresa is from
What was your dream when you were a kid? What was the reason?
I had many dreams, it is hard to pick one. I always wanted to have many many kids and adopt kids. I wanted to be a teacher, a musician, a photographer, an astronaut and a mechanical engineer. I think these are the main ones. But I remember always wanting to be a teacher, until now. The reason I’m not so sure, maybe because my dad was a teacher.
What was your dream when you were 18 years old? What was the reason?
I wanted to be a missionary and open an arts school in Africa. I was very catholic at the time and had this urge feeling of wanting to be a missionary. I wanted to finish high-school and leaving to a rural village in Africa and open a school there for kids that wanted to pursue an artistic career. I had even though of a scholarship model similar to the buy one give one. I remember I had a very good friend who was finishing college at the time and he went for a year to Burundi and would sometimes tell me to go as well. My mom didn’t let me, of course, and I remember he said something to me that stuck forever: I went to college to grow and develop my best skills, so then I can put them to serve others at a very good level. And so, that is what I did.
What made you start thinking about social entrepreneurship/social enterprises? When was that?
Well I was very lucky with that, it just kind of crashed into me. Since I was 8 that I had been used to do volunteering, so it came very natural to me to do extracurricular activities in service to others all the time. In one of these activities, I was doing missionary work in Portugal and ran into some friends that had been made a proposal to start a social entrepreneurship initiative with the Institute of Social Entrepreneurship in Portugal. They called me up to do some design work for them, since I was studying Product Design at the time, and so I did. By this time I was in my last year in college and had started to learn about business design, design thinking, social innovation, sustainability and eco-design, as well as inclusive design and designing for the “bottom of the pyramid”. All this really made clear in my head how design was indeed a great tool to serve the world and those who needed it the most. I started learning more about Social Entrepreneurship by this time (I was around 20 years old) and started getting more involved in groups and activities related to it. And from here on, it was true love.
How much do you think social entrepreneurs play an important role in the world?
I truly believe in Social Entrepreneurship as one of the great tools of our time to change poverty and millions of lives. Although I have some doubts about the overly market dependent point-of-view at times, that I don’t think that works, I do consider that Social Entrepreneurs combine a good dosage of grit, passion, service, and a big amount of good sense (not common sense, but good sense) that can change all the old rotting systems that perpetuate poverty and inequality. I think we live in a world where many want to do good things. But Social Entrepreneurs are the people who open roads for those people to do good things, open roads to end poverty, inequality, in a fair, smart, innovative way.
What would you say to future social entrepreneurs / those who are interested in social entrepreneurs?
It is a really rocky and painful journey that requires a lot of sacrifice, a lot humility, a LOT of grit and passion. It is remarkably rewarding though and a true privilege to travel it. My “unasked for” advice is: never settle, never give up, never stop criticizing established ways – if comes from the heart, put all your talent to it, ask for help and build teams, DON’T do everything by yourself, LISTEN a lot, I would risk saying almost only, to who you are working for (your beneficiaries/ customers), don’t worry if you feel crazy (you are not alone), be kind to everyone (some have more barriers to understanding where you are trying to go), think holistically, do not assume anything anymore – break the stigma. This is what we are for: to break the cycle and break the stigmas that keep us from seeing the better future. And keep trying, it takes trial and error, but don’t stop.
What is your favorite quote? Who said that quote?
I will use the quote from the organization I am working for now: “I believe. I lead. I change”. That’s it.
Who Teresa is
Teresa is an artisan, putting all of her energy into making every single piece perfect every time she is working on a project. Teresa was one of my teammates in my second and third teams at Hult and I have seen that she takes time and makes an effort until her job reaches perfection, or at least until the quality satisfies her without too much compromise.
She is such an artistic person and a great designer. She is proud of being a designer and loves her job. PowerPoint slides that she created for the teams were so beautiful, colorful and well organized even in the small details. Each of them was definitely ‘Teresa’s creation.’
Teresa asks questions and keeps insisting on her stance until she is completely satisfied or convinced no matter how many people are on her side. She amazed me several times with how she persuades others, even though she was the only one on a specific side at the beginning.
I already told you that Teresa is an artisan. For her, discussing and arguing until reaching a conclusion means creating something with others
Teresa is a good observer as well, constantly looking and perceptively noticing what is around her. She is so sweet and observes how you look and how you are every time you are with her. “Are you ok?“ Those are words that she has asked me many times in the past year. I think that it is a habit of mine, considering something without speaking words, and it must concern her if I am alright. Of course, I am not the only one she asks — she asks everyone the same question if she feels something is wrong. She cares about us all.
I am a big fan when she talks or shares about things that happened to her, especially when she is eager to speak about such things with excitement. She is so dramatic with big hand movements, which makes her a great story teller. I don’t know if this expression makes sense to you but each of her stories are ‘alive.’ You will never get bored when you talk to her. Try it!
While we were having a team meeting at Hult I don’t remember exactly what led us to the conversation, but she shared a Discovery Channel episode about Megalodon, an ancient sea creature which is like a crazily huge shark that lived in the same era as the dinosaurs.
Believe it or not, the truth is that the video was scary! Yeah, she likes that kind of stuff. She also loves Japanese culture especially topics like Samurai and katana (Japanese swords). Conversations about these topics with Teresa were very interesting because she knows about them very well. Her favorite samurai movie is Zatoichi, which surprised me because nobody except Japanese people know about this movie. Classic things in other cultures must get Teresa’s attention.
The Power of MSE
What Teresa is holding is a symbol called “go-en(ご縁)”, which means ‘fate’, ’destiny’ and ’special tie.’
I believe that it is meant to be that we met in San Francisco! I studied Social Entrepreneurship with Teresa for a year, saying “We will make the world a better place.” I would love to spend the rest of my life with MSEs (Master of Social Entrepreneurship; my classmates) until the very day I die. They have already completely changed my life.
At the same time, however, I also think that we should not be together all the time, because that is not the reason why we learned Social Entrepreneurship. That is not how we will deliver the impact we want to give to society and to the world.
I think MSEs are like dandelions. We were seeded at the first day at Hult and we bloomed on our graduation day. Our mission is that we spread all over the world like dandelions and seed the future, the next generation, from each place where each of us has landed.
本当にありがとう(Honto ni Arigato-); Thank you very very much for everything!! The world needs you! Let’s make the world a better place together!!