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Bravo Family Foundation introduces community-driven tourism model

Tourism in Puerto Rico is evolving with the introduction of a distinct model of tourism entrepreneurship: community social enterprises participating in the Exceptional Community Leaders program by the Bravo Family Foundation.

The Bravo family is led by Orlando Bravo, a co-founder of private equity firm Thoma Bravo. Their foundation promotes social and economic growth in Puerto Rico through underserved-community development and entrepreneurship.

Community-based organizations in the municipalities of Salinas, San Germán and Loíza have adopted this model. Its goal is to address a problem or fulfill a social need within the community to which the organization belongs. 

Revenue from heritage tourism and community services will support work experience and professional development for youth in these communities, who are affected by unemployment and underemployment.

The initiative began July 22 with the launch of Educational, Recreational and Social Point Inc. in the Las Mareas community of Salinas. This was followed by Casa Juan Pablo II in Rosario Village, San Germán, on July 29. Lastly, Centro Esperanza in the Colobó community of Loíza launched on Aug. 5.

Income from the social enterprises will also help these organizations meet the economic needs of their impact programs. Casa Juan Pablo II and Centro Esperanza both provide opportunities for music education, often scarce or unavailable in these communities.

On the other hand, Educational, Recreational and Social Point will use its revenue to support a tutoring program for community students.

For the past three years, the Bravo Family Foundation’s Exceptional Community Leaders program team has collaborated with leaders of these three organizations. The partnership focused on strengthening administrative structures and physical facilities and on conceptualizing, designing and offering tourist experiences.

Blanca Santos, executive director of the Bravo Family Foundation, emphasized the significance of engaging the youth in these ventures to boost their personal and professional growth.

Fernando Silva, director of the Exceptional Community Leaders Program, said the collaboration between the youth and organization leaders encompassed training and education. It also involved developing skills and understanding the natural and cultural heritage that defines their communities.

Orlando Bravo, the co-founder and chair of the Bravo Family Foundation, said: “I am very proud of all these young people we have worked with, alongside community leaders, over the past three years in developing this social entrepreneurship initiative.”

“Now comes the second and better part of this program,” Bravo added. “It takes a lot of hard work to ensure that their social enterprise successfully achieves the goals and objectives they have set. At the foundation, we will continue to stand with them, accompanying and supporting them in the process.”

The Exceptional Community Leaders Program works with community-based organizations, primarily from high-risk rural areas with limited opportunities in Puerto Rico.

Its leaders promote social justice for the well-being of their community and the comprehensive development of their youth. 

The program offers resources to strengthen and develop each community group’s organizational, financial and generational sustainability.

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