Community Empowerment Network's Blog
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.