I’m Tegu’s Head Elf, and I’m writing from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where it’s pouring outside the window of my local WiFi-enabled Burger King. We are in the beginning of the rainy season here, and there have been tempests the past 2 days. In Honduras, I go by a different title to fit the more formal business environment of this country – Managing Director, Tegu Honduras.
In May of 2006, my travels for The Boston Consulting Group took me to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, for several interviews with apparel factory managers. I had been to Tegus once before, on a mission trip to work with a home for street boys, the Micah Project, which was founded by a fellow St. Louisan, Michael Miller. In my free time during the business trip, I reconnected with the Micah Project staff, and in a historic conversation about that most exciting of topics, their budget, I threw out a question – “What about a local business that would spit off a profit and relieve the Micah Project’s dependence on donations from the USA?”
A little context is helpful – in May of 2006, I was sitting on the waitlist for the Stanford GSB MBA program, and I had applied to pursue an MBA with the premise that going to business school would put me in a position within a relatively short period of time to get an entrepreneurial venture going. My application thesis revolved around my desire to start a new venture with a relationship to Latin America, that, in the very nature of its operations, would generate a social impact. It’s funny to think about now, but I’m not sure I had even heard the term “social enterprise” when I wrote that application – seems like the most bandied term around at the moment.
When I threw out the question, I wasn’t thinking about moving to Honduras and starting such a business myself – but here I am doing just that, and clearly much has happened in the intervening 3 years! Tegu is no longer directly tied to the Micah Project in terms of its vision and scope, however our connections and relationships are very strong there, and tonight I was hanging out with the Micah boys and staff watching Honduras lose 2-1 to the USA in a World Cup qualifying soccer match (¡lo siento Catrachos!).
I often look back on 2006 and marvel at what God was doing in my life – it was quite the blow in January of 2006 not to be accepted outright to Stanford GSB. However, I know now that being on the waitlist (neither accepted nor denied) permitted the conditions under which Tegu could be conceptualized. It was in August of 2006, when I was on a leave of absence from BCG and spending 5 weeks in Honduras to research the Tegu idea (working title at that time: KidsDream) that I finally found out that I had not received a spot in the incoming MBA class that year. At that point, the disappointment was next to nil, and events were already underway that would lead to the formation of this new venture. I am so very grateful for how it all came about.