The conference concluded on September 7th in Asuncion. It was the first Paraguayan EoC conference, although it also included EoC business owners fromArgentina for whom it coincided with the 34th annual spring meeting of the Argentine EoC.
The conference focused on the figure of the business owner who embraces the Economy of Communion Project. In one Skype link-up international project coordinator, Luigino Bruni, said that an EoC business owner is someone who chooses poverty.” Strong words that could seem to imply that wealth, or better, being well off and the EoC were incompatible. But German Jorge from Parana, Argentina, who owns a building materials distribution centre with 60 employees explained: “EoC business owners suffer because of poverty; otherwise, they wouldn’t be EoC people. They are not immune from poverty, but make it their choice in life and bring it into the business.” German went on to say: “In a capitalist economy the object of the business is to generate wealth. In our case generating wealth is a sign that that things are going well, but it is not the goal. The goal is communion, and the process itself is communion and we are regenerated as business people. And so the business is not a money-making machine, but a community of people.”
Such a business style is successful and convincing, as the story of Ramon Cervino from Cordoba shows. He is the owner of a medical equipment company. He stated that the distinctive feature of a company with an EoC business owner was the choice of open communications across the board within that company. This does not put the poor before the company, but uncovers, accepts and embraces the diversity and need of the other.
Many testimonies were offered by business owners who have embraced the EoC project, such as the story of a hairdresser, a shopkeeper and a street vendor who created micro-businesses with their families that turned them into stimulating examples of hard work and determination.
There was also the story of a large Paraguayan company like Todo Brillo that was visited by the members of the conference. Todo Brillo is a leading company in the field of cleaning products, with more than 600 employees. It was begun thanks to the decision of Maria Elena to decline an offer as director of a prestigious bank. With her children she launched into the new venture, setting aside all the advantages and comforts connected with the previous offer. “We decided on this project in order to offer employment to people who were unable to go to school. For very many of them we are their only opportunity to become inserted in the working world.”
They now return to their businesses more strengthened and committed to creating an economy that is more human and fraternal.