On September 10th, 2016 Mr. Vitto Campuzano, Vice President of F. Garcia Wholesale and Export, Inc. Florida - a United States Food Supplier - attended a conference in Miami by the Institute of Trading and Portfolio Management. After the conference, certain invitees attended a VIP lunch with the Institute's Managing Partner Mr. Anton Kreil. The group that was present at lunch totaled 10 individuals seeking to progress their abilities of trading financial markets. They spent the afternoon discussing different topics about the financial markets, business, and life in general.
Much of the discussion over lunch revolved around Emerging Markets and how to navigate exposure to them. Eventually, Venezuela came up as a topic of discussion and Mr. Campuzano began explaining to the group and to Mr. Kreil about the influx of Venezuelans arriving to Miami in the past two years due to the political instabilities and human rights injustices happening in their country. With such a quick and powerful injection of newly arrived middle-upper-class Venezuelans into the local Miami population, F. Garcia Wholesale and Export had witnessed firsthand the growth opportunities they had brought with them.
Since F. Garcia Wholesale & Export revolves around soft commodities like beans, rice, corn, and other food staples, Venezuela has recently presented itself as "a new export market" in the food service industry. F. Garcia has been receiving daily email and phone requests for foodstuffs to be imported into Venezuela for months and consequently we have been able to make the first sale to Venezuela for black beans this past summer. We have continued to increase our sales into the country with other commodities like white long grain rice. The discussion at the lunch in Miami surrounding Emerging Markets was specifically about new opportunities in Venezuela. As Venezuela became the topic of discussion, Institute Managing Partner Anton Kreil asked if it would be difficult to send a food donation to Venezuela.
F. Garcia Wholesale & Export Inc was established in 1974 and is a family owned and operated company. Its corporate culture has always strived to regularly participate in charitable causes assisting with hunger, or homeless organizations. Mr. Kreil’s suggestion to donate to Venezuela became exciting and intriguing on many levels. Firstly, even though a business line had been established recently into Venezuela, F. Garcia Wholesale and Export Inc had never actually donated to Venezuela before. This can create many new challenges logistically and operationally. However, for the F. Garcia team this was one of the reasons why this was such an exciting project. Reaching out and helping people whom they had never had any previous contact with was very special. Secondly, being a first-generation American from Cuban parents, Mr. Campuzano understood the dire situation in Venezuela and drew comparisons to Cuba. As the lunch came to an end, on departure Mr. Campuzano promised Mr. Kreil he would make the donation happen. Mr. Kreil then returned to his base in Singapore.
The following week the F. Garcia staff began to think in more detail about the donation and the operation of getting the donation to Venezuela. If the donation was going to be successful it would be vital in mapping out the correct plan. Mr. Campuzano decided to approach the company’s Venezuelan customers. He shared with them the idea about the donation and they immediately loved it. The idea and plan began to unfold beautifully.
We then asked ourselves a few simple questions: What is the most economical way to donate food to the most number of people? What type of food do the Venezuelan people consume the most? Our answers were simple.
Firstly, we would have to get the food into Port La Guaira and secondly the company would concentrate on donating Rice as this is one of the main staples in Venezuela. It would also help the most number of people. It was estimated that the shipment would feed up to 500 families for a sustainable amount of time. F. Garcia’s Miami based Venezuelan customers would handle the shipment to the city of Cagua. Ultimately, Cagua was chosen for security reasons because the local partners in Venezuela had the ability to guarantee the donation and that it would be free from sabotage or theft. In a time where civil unrest runs rampant throughout the country and because food scarcity is a daily reality, the company donation could have easily ended up being impounded at customs or stolen during the journey. If the staff at F. Garcia didn’t risk trusting their customers with the donation, they would not have been able to exercise the disbursement of the donation, because it would never have reached the people whom it was meant for. F. Garcia’s mission was to donate as much Rice as possible through an established channel in order to feed as many families as possible with the lowest amount of risk.
The donation arrived in the city of Cagua on December 1st 2016 and the food has been delivered to over several hundred families that are in need. All this in just 10 weeks after the original lunch meeting that started it all off. The idea was sparked with an honest suggestion from an unlikely person traveling half way across the world to spend the day with others talking about financial markets, trading, and portfolio management. F. Garcia would like to say thank you to its partners in Venezuela who made this donation possible and to Mr. Anton Kreil of the Institute of Trading and Portfolio Management for his genius suggestion and challenge to help the people of Venezuela.
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