Doing something that’s never been done before

A recap of the 2018 October Business & Cultural Trip

October Fall Trip 2018 attendees pose in front of the Douro river outside Quinta da Ermida in northern Portugal.

October Fall Trip 2018 attendees pose in front of the Douro river outside Quinta da Ermida in northern Portugal.

A highlight of this year was an October 2018 trip for entrepreneurs and executives from a wide range of industries and companies. The time together focused upon how business and economics can connect into Portugal to address societal concerns of mutual interest to Portugal and the United States.

In addition to seeing and experiencing the wonderful culture, food, and people of Portugal, the trip intentionally brought together business, political, and regional leaders into focused conversations with our U.S. guests.

Marjorie shares a moment with attendees during the visit to A Ponte.

Marjorie shares a moment with attendees during the visit to A Ponte.

The trip was kicked off on Saturday, October 7th, where attendees had a chance to do some basic sightseeing in Lisbon. The following day, we had the first major gathering at Otto and Marjorie’s home where we had the opportunity to get to know each other as well as talk about the days ahead.

Trip attendees hear from Randy during visit to A Ponte.

Trip attendees hear from Randy during visit to A Ponte.

Monday, October 9th, was spent touring the projects that Friends of Portugal has in Lisbon. Attendees visited A Ponte, a co-work in Loures that provides a space for entrepreneurs and small business owners, and the Second Hand store in Massamá, an initiative that sells used clothing at affordable prices.

We also had the opportunity to meet and tour one of the business facilities owned by Tim Vieira, a prominent Portuguese business leader, entrepreneur, and one of the judges of the Portuguese version of Shark Tank. Vieira shared an optimistic view of the Portuguese economy and the amazing opportunities for investment. He encouraged attendees to consider Portugal as a great place to explore new business ventures.

Group poses for a picture with Tim Vieira, entrepreneur and judge of Portugal’s version of Shark Tank,  after visiting one of his businesses

Group poses for a picture with Tim Vieira, entrepreneur and judge of Portugal’s version of Shark Tank, after visiting one of his businesses

Tuesday morning was a special one as we were able to host the United States Ambassador to Portugal George E. Glass. Ambassador Glass shared with us some of the accomplishments and progress the United States has made in U.S. - Portuguese relations this past year and emphasized the need for continued investment in the rural areas of Portugal, an area of concern for many in Portugal as rural areas are often under-served and economically vulnerable.

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After the meeting, we had the opportunity share a time of prayer with the Ambassador. It was a powerful moment that touched the hearts of many that were there.

That same day we also had the chance to visit Alcácer do Sal, a city that is thousands of years old and has been a part of Portugal for 800 years. We went through a wonderful tour of the historical castle in the city, arranged by long-time Friends of Portugal partner and friend Gonçalo Henriques, one of the founders of Beyond Tagus, a company dedicated to the promotion of tourism in the Alentejo region.

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Gonçalo discusses the history of Alcácer do Sal with trip attendees

Gonçalo discusses the history of Alcácer do Sal with trip attendees

Gonçalo shared about some of the for-profit real estate investment opportunities in the Alentejo area, a destination that historically has been overlooked by tourists but is quickly becoming one of the go-to destinations for vacations and business investments. We were also joined by CDR Scott Worthington from the U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation in Portugal. Commander Worthington is from Lemore in the Central Valley of California.

CDR Scott Worthington, U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation in Portugal

CDR Scott Worthington, U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation in Portugal

The following day attendees had the opportunity to visit the Convent of Christ in Tomar to experience some of the rich history of the King’s Templar in Portugal. After, we visited Pedrógão Grande, the region where deadly fires killed nearly 70 people last year. We toured one of the Friends of Portugal and Re-nascer projects there and got to learn more about the brand new co-work space about to be opened there this year.

For lunch, we ate at a hospitality and hotel management trade school and were served an amazing meal by some of the incredible students, young people who give life to the rural regions of Portugal. We also heard from Sammy, owner of the Tiny House Portugal, and graduate of the Re-nascer annual business pitch competition. Because of Re-nascer, Sammy has experienced tremendous growth in his business. The success of his business is sure to benefit the Pedrógão Grande region as he primarily employs locals.

Convent of Christ in Tomar

Convent of Christ in Tomar

Attendees visiting new co-work space in Pedrógão Grande

Attendees visiting new co-work space in Pedrógão Grande

Hotel management students serve drinks for attendees

Hotel management students serve drinks for attendees

The rest of the days were marked by wine tours and sightseeing through the northern region of Portugal, including a stop in Porto and a stay at a wonderful family owned hotel and winery, Quinta da Ermida, in the Douro Valley. Wine is one of the major drivers of the Portuguese economy. Attendees had the opportunity to meet some local wine makers and businesses in the Douro region.

We shared an amazing time in community and had the opportunity to taste some of Portugal’s best wines.

The trip was an amazing time of fellowship and learning and it left a positive impression of what Friends of Portugal is doing to all that attended.

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Forrest Jenan, Pastor of Neighborhood Church in Visalia said he was impacted by the different model for ministry that Friends of Portugal is trying to follow.

“If you’re going to reach people no one else is reaching, you have to do things that no one else is doing and Friends of Portugal is doing just that, something different,” he said.

See more testimonials about the trip below.


Interested in going on the October 2019 Business & Cultural Trip? Let us know of your interest here.


Testimonials

“It’s been great getting to know Cathy and Randy and hearing about what Friends of Portugal is doing. It’s such an interesting concept, to bring business people from the United States with their own influence and expertise to a country where a lot of growth is still needed and whose young people need to be poured into...it’s a different way to experience another country.”

Jon Bray ~ Director of Marketing , PRO-PT Physical Therapy


“I love what Friends of Portugal is doing. I love their ground-up approach, I love that they are starting small and trying to grow something big and creating infrastructure for people that are starting their own businesses. The hardest thing to do is start a business.”

Scot Hillman ~ Chairman of the Board, J.D. Heiskell & Company

“I like the fact that Friends of Portugal is teaching people how to fish, not providing the fish. Get somebody the tool and they will feed many others.”

Eddie Perez ~ Owner, Perez & Maddelein Financial & Insurance Services

“I don’t think I had ever heard of a unique model like this where we’re trying to blend for businesses, for communities, for faith-based organizations...what resonated with me the most is the authenticity of Friends of Portugal’s mission. Sometimes you hear about organizations and the good work they’re doing...but with Friends of Portugal, we got to spend time with the Board President, the Board Vice-President, the directors of North America and Europe and they all share the same vision, they share the same mission, they’re authentic people and their rolling their sleeves and they’re doing the good work in Portugal and it’s a really inspiring.

Chris Gocke ~ CoFounder - Managing Director, EdLink

Guimel SibingoComment