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CEN’s work has resulted in lasting impact in the Brazilian Amazon

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Building self-reliance doesn't happen overnight. Until now, CEN has primarily focused on creating the tools for building a strong foundation for development by strengthening the basic skills and habits of a small group of participants in three communities in the Brazilian Amazon. We are addressing one of the root causes of poverty and not just the symptoms.

Over the past couple of years, our work has resulted in sustainable change in the communities where work. Here are some examples:

Water faucet with soap With CEN's assistance, the Rural Family Home (CFR) has raised over 82 percent of the cost of the Rural Family Home Artesian Well Project, which has allowed the school to excavate a well and install a pump and a water storage tank. Hopefully the funds we raise through the end of the year will allow the CFR to finish the entire project! We're getting so close. Watch our short video on the artesian well project >>
Meeting about community radio 150 Residents of Suruacá have become increasingly self-reliant in addressing the many daily and long-term challenges they face. For many years, we've combatted the learned helplessness that has affected the community for generations by mentoring residents and strengthening their soft skills. Rather than simply resigning themselves to their fate or holding their hands out to others to fix their problems for them, they’ve learned how to grapple with the challenges themselves.
Larissas Grocery 150 Entrepreneurship throughout the community of Suruacá is also exploding with scores of new microbusinesses taking root where few existed. Read more about the recent progress in Suruacá >>
Banco da Mulher Assembly 150 The regional women’s group, which once provided valuable technical training and microfinancing to hundreds of women entrepreneurs in nearly 50 communities throughout the middle Amazon, has shaken off years of near-paralysis. This is thanks in part to CEN's efforts in helping to hold the first meeting of members of the Banco da Mulher in over five years and presenting our findings and recommendations on the microfinance program. Read more about the Banco da Mulher’s progress >>
Clariss at computer 150x150 Thanks to CEN's ongoing coaching and some limited financial support – as well as a healthy dose of the residents’ own ingenuity – the residents of Suruacá have prevailed in furnishing the electricity required to double the number of laptops available in the community’s school and power a freezer, which enables the school to provide students with lunches that have improved the quality of child nutrition in the area. Through CEN’s strategy of support through mentorship in creative problem-solving, CEN has fostered greater self-reliance and strengthened the community’s capacity to solve problems on its own. Read more about how the school achieved its goals >>


We need your help to maintain our momentum!

CEN needs to raise less than $1,700 by the end of the year to finish the CFR's well – and we can do it!

There are two simple ways to help this holiday season:


Making a donation on our website. Every dollar we raise through the end of the year on the website will go toward completing the well.

donate to Global Challenge


Using when you shop for gifts on throughout the holiday season and Amazon will pay CEN a percentage of your purchases at no additional cost to you. (please bookmark this link)

CEN Link


With your help, the Rural Family Home will be able to offer thousands of youth in the region a promising future!

Trackback URL for this blog entry.

Mr. Bortner is the founder and executive director of the Community Empowerment Network and the president ofAcumen International, a consultancy that works around the world to promote sustainable social and economic development by using information and communication technologies. Bob is skilled in international business management strategy, technology access and utilization, and has expertise in cross-cultural people skills and database design. He has managed multidisciplinary teams and projects addressing the macro/policy level, as well as the individual and community level, for more than 25 years. Many of these projects and teams have applied renewable energies and ICT as tools for individuals and communities to generate income, as well as to meet other development objectives, including education, health and governance. Initiatives have included the design and implementation of a program that provides hard and soft skills development, and access to capital and domestic and international markets for a range of nontraditional products. Bob’s cross-cultural skills have been honed by a lifetime of living and working in many regions of the world, including North and Latin America, Western Europe, Israel, Southern Africa, India and Southeast Asia.

Bob coordinated several projects for Greenstar Corporation in South Africa and Brazil. He has helped to establish the business case for programs in the village of Kgautswane, Limpopo Province. He has also helped to lead Greenstar participation in the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. He continues to advise the community on a variety of development efforts. Bob has also assisted with the utilization of information technology in a number of development efforts, including Tarahaat in India, Fundação Pensamento Digital in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and Digital Partners in the U.S. His previous business experience includes work as a corporate account representative for headquarters sales at Microsoft Corporation. He ran a virtual team based in Redmond, Washington, that was responsible for developing customer satisfaction, identifying customers' IT needs, and contract negotiation. Bob's team was responsible for managing and implementing a marketing program targeted at converting influential Lotus 1-2-3 and WordPerfect users and their work groups to Microsoft Word and Excel, working closely with more than 300 channel partners to build their business development skills, marketing and sales resources and to engage in corporate accounts. He also worked in enterprise and channel sales as territory manager for small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. Great Lakes District, and was also responsible for anti-piracy efforts for the headquarters district.

Previously, Bob pursued market development and distribution opportunities for a variety of products, including computer software, as an independent consultant in Washington, D.C., and Seattle. He successfully developed a distribution network in Puerto Rico, and researched and co-authored studies involving the utilization of satellite telecenters in the Dominican Republic. He was also involved with the management of the petrochemical project task force with Trinidad while working for the Puerto Rico Economic Development Administration as an industrial promotions officer. He was primarily responsible for generating U.S., Far East and European investment in a five-nation Caribbean territory and managing the relationship between those countries and the Puerto Rican government. This work generated more than $300 million of investment in Trinidad and Barbados in a two-year period. Bob oversaw and managed all aspects of participation by four Puerto Rican government agencies and 10 exhibitors in international trade shows in Trinidad. He also researched and implemented countertrade exchange in Brazil for International Trade and Investments, Chicago, which involved identifying target products and locating and negotiating with U.S. buyers and Brazilian suppliers.

He worked closely with top management from the pharmaceutical, chemical, electronics and metallurgy industries, among others, to promote investment sites and expedite relocation. Key investors included General Electric, Schering-Plough, Mobil, GTE, ICI, and Matsushita. Bob met regularly with key government officials in the region, including the chief minister of the British Virgin Islands and the former secretary of state of Puerto Rico. These efforts resulted in more than 20 projects, which were together worth $500 million.

Bob received a master’s degree in international relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese.


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Guest Wednesday, 11 December 2019


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