With over 40% of children in Guatemala not completing elementary school, Capgemini Guatemala has been working to build schools in the town of Bosques del Quetzal, equipping them with adequate facilities to ensure a brighter future for their children. Gustavo Tasner (Head of Americas Delivery Network) shares his experience as a volunteer on the “Building a better future for children” project, and how Capgemini’s recent “MoveFifty” challenge boosted the cause.

Hello Gustavo, Could start by telling us about the “Building a better future for children” project.

Gustavo Tasner: This project aims to improve primary education by building elementary schools for disadvantaged children in Bosques del Quetzal in the suburbs of Guatemala City. Around 500 of our Capgemini Guatemala colleagues have supported the project—not only contributing economically to fund this project, but also physically, by volunteering to help construct the school. The latest saw active participation of around 200 volunteers, and our efforts have so far positively impacted the lives of over 332 children—and we hope to increase that.

What has been the impact of this initiative?
The impact has been huge and involves three different dimensions—social, employee engagement and cultural change. The social impact is evident—changing the environment where children go to school and giving them the possibility of having a better education.

We’ve already built two schools and we will continue with a third school in the near future thanks to the recognition we received from the Capgemini Group. This has translated into economic support that will help accelerate our plan to give this program the continuity needed to maximize social impact. 

Could you talk briefly about the challenges that were involved?
The main challenge we face in the past was that our Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability (CR&S) initiatives in Guatemala were fragmented. Various initiatives were being supported by different engagements and we needed to focus on one common project, and impact the society we are living and working in. 

We’re in an industry that is human capital intensive, where education is the basis of everything. So we chose education and redesigned our whole CR&S initiative around this.

These children live in an extremely poor environment with limited infrastructure. So by building schools with adequate facilities, we are helping to provide an education for these children, helping them to have more opportunities for a brighter future and a better environment to grow up in.

Our second challenge was execution—how do we get the project done? For this we partnered with United Way to support us with all the logistics involved.

How does being a volunteer benefit the Guatemala team and the organization as a whole?
Volunteering is the ultimate team-building activity! People are more than willing to contribute, and the result is more engagement with the company, with teammates and with the leadership—and these all add up to the reasons why our people stay with Capgemini. Working together towards a common good and common goal provides a sense of belonging and motivates people. While we obviously don’t do it to improve our employee engagement, it’s clear that it’s a very positive “side effect.”

It’s fantastic to be part of building a school, sharing the experience with the children and community. And it’s great to be able to do this with the same colleagues that deliver fantastic results in our Business Services organization in Guatemala—1,400 people serving 22 countries in the Americas across a broad range of services including finance and accounting, supply chain, procurement and HR outsourcing, as well as business transformation and robotic implementations.

What’s next for the project?
Capgemini is globally committed to improving education, and at Capgemini Guatemala we not only adhere to this commitment but also live by it every day. So, as I’ve mentioned, we’re soon starting work on a third school, and we hope to continue and develop the project beyond this.

Finally, it’s great to see that our Guatemala CR&S project is viewed by many other people in the global Capgemini “family” as something to adopt, support and even replicate. Capgemini’s global “MoveFifty” initiative, which raised money for three inspiring charities promoting education for underprivileged children in France, Guatemala and India, by encouraging Capgemini employees to get active, was a fantastic opportunity to provide better awareness of what we do and get much more (and global!) support to our cause. I believe this will also encourage people to replicate the initiative in other locations that have similar needs.