I was part of a team of 3Mers from diverse functions and geographies (U.S., Mexico, India) who traveled to Hanoi, Vietnam. Together, we worked with a young NGO called GreenHub, which specializes in coastal cleanups, waste management and recycling, green agricultural practices, and biodiversity.
The NGO had built credibility through extensive cleanup activities along the coast of Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as through sustainable activities with organic farmers. Our project was to help develop a communication plan to strengthen GreenHub’s brand and better position them to gain funding from large organizations. Without a large budget, we had to think like a startup and work like a startup. It was a great learning experience.
We conducted a brand workshop with GreenHub and held one-on-one meetings with all the key stakeholders, including donors, volunteers, organic farmers, fishermen and co-operative societies. It was an especially enriching experience to spend time with the organic farmers and understand their challenges.
As we worked with GreenHub, we helped them define their brand identity and develop a communication plan including elements of proposal writing, presentations, profiling, web presence, social media, public relations, media and campaigns. We also suggested new techniques for agricultural waste management like biochar and composting banks that would prevent farmers from burning agri-waste and damaging air quality in large proportions. The training was very well received and the GreenHub team started implementing some of the tips immediately.
It was moving to see the director of GreenHub in tears as we presented our work and the possibilities that lay ahead for the NGO. It was icing on the cake when we learned that four weeks after we left Hanoi, GreenHub received funding from the UN for women’s skill development.
The 3M Impact program gave my team the opportunity to become completely immersed in a new culture and to better understand and appreciate the issues on-the-ground in another country. It also gave us a great opportunity to network with 3Mers across continents and to learn from them. I realized how much we all had in common, in terms of our work ethic and values, irrespective of which country we came from. This experience gave us tremendous satisfaction in using our skills to help organizations and individuals who really saw value in what we could offer.
The project also taught me to challenge my own perspectives about cultures, look at everyday problems differently, and see firsthand how 3M uses science to make lives better. There are some programs that are designed to make you a better leader, and then there are some programs like 3M Impact that also make you a better person!