M A M A    C O C A

I Believe in Colombia

White Paper

by Pedro Medina

The second most populated country in South America, the oldest democracy in the region, the country with the oldest guerrilla movement in the world,  is undergoing growing pains.  Colombia, a teenage country, suffers from 4 of the ills of a teenager - poor self esteem, lack of a clear sense of common direction and vision, an impending sense of doom tied with inertia, and a self destructive nature.  The estimates of emigration vary from source to source, but they range from 400,000 to 2 million Colombians in the last 30 months. As a country, we have sunk in a vicious circle of recriminating our ills, our mistakes and our history and repeating those ills, mistakes and history. I want to share with you a state of the art initiative that I have led in 16 cities and 3 countries to empower Colombians to speak favorably of our country and to act on its behalf, thus breaking this vicious circle.


I teach a strategy class at Los Andes University and Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá and head the McDonald´s operation in Colombia. In 1999, I asked my 39 students how many of them saw themselves in Colombia in 5 years. 12 raised their hands.  I turned to the other 27 and asked them why they wanted to leave the country; they asked "why should we stay?"  I started saying - "the coffee, and the emeralds, and the 2 oceans, and the flowers, and ..." I ran out of arguments.  Feeling frustrated at my own inability to produce solid arguments to sell my country to my Colombian students, I decided to do something about it.  During 18 months, I led a group of 50 students from 5 universities in a project to develop a class for all high schools, colleges and universities in Colombia which researched the comparative advantages of Colombia, that which we do better than other countries in the region or world wide, those characteristics which make us unique. While comparisons some times are not healthy, please bear in mind that we are a teenage country and teenagers compare themselves.

The net result of this research project is a movement of social consciousness titled "Yo Creo en Colombia" (I believe in Colombia). The movement has 5 initiatives:

1. A 1 hour talk " Por Que Creer en Colombia" which I gave in 2001 on 217 occasions in 13 cities and 3 countries to 119,000 Colombians. The audience has ranged from the governor and majors of Putumayo to the Doctors of Clínica Santa Fé, from the President, the First Lady and the Milenium Board (Global Head of Mitsubishi, Founder of America On Line, President of US Airways and other 30 top business people) to the students of Colegio Eucarístico, from the Banking Convention to the beauty queens, from 28 schools and universities to all the Diplomatic Representatives in Colombia, from the flower association to the coffee growers.  I am sheduled to make over 50 additional presentations in the next 4 months. Along with this talk, I´ve developed a talk titled “Colombia – The Best Kept Secret in The world”. I was invited to be the key note speaker in the YPO Latin American University on Jan 1, 2002 and received high marks from 92 Presidents of companies from 17 countries and their families.

2. 3 1 hour workshops tied to the talk - these workshops help participants to generate ideas on "What can I do NOW for Colombia", “How is the Colombia that we Dream About and What can I do to Help Build it” and “How Can I Use My Creativity to Build the Colombia that We Deserve”. Recently, in one of these workshops in the Chamber of Commerce, 53 heads of companies generated in 10 minutes 317 ideas of what they could do now for Colombia. The ideas are then screened looking for the high impact and low difficulty ones and those consensual ones are presented to all the participants. I have conducted 5 workshops this year.

3. A 4 module, 12 session class for schools and universities. The net result will be a new generation of Colombians who have the competencies and assume responsibility for the rebuilding of our country.

4. A book on Why Colombia

5. A social capital strategy which is building a local and global network around  "I believe in Colombia". We are doing this by creating circles of empowered people in schools, companies, institutions, by training others to give the talk, by involving people with non profits and helping them be a part of the solution. In terms of communication, we have a daily 1-2 minute section in a national tv program, a weekly column in 12 newspapers, a column in 2 magazines and will be transmitting the talk via video conference to the entire country and via video streaming throughout the web in the next few months. This strategy involves the media – I have been invited to give the talk by most of the top media in the country and have already trained 2 reporters in giving it themselves.

More info www.yocreoencolombia.com


Pedro Medina
General Manager
McDonald´s Colombia
Tel 571 643 0144

Pedro Medina has worked in Mobil Polymers International, a division of Mobil Chemical, Propilco, a licensee of Union Carbide and Shell, Sofasa, the Toyota and Renault assembly plant in Colombia, and brought the McDonald´s brand into Colombia. He has led the company as its General Manager for 7 years. While at McDonald´s, Medina founded and led a state of the art program called "I believe in Colombia" and in 2001 made over 200 presentations to groups ranging from 20 to 70,000 in 13 cities and 3 countries.  He has been a Professor of business strategy in Los Andes University for 7 years. He holds a BA degree in Economics, History and International Relations from the University of Virginia, an MBA from the Darden School of the same University and a Bachellors in Hamburgerology from Hamburger University in Chicago.
Married with 3 kids, he enjoys his family life, swimming, building castles in the sand, teaching, mentoring, public speaking, preparing sushi and playing the hammer dulcimer.
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