We all normally buy fast fashion, but today that wasn’t the case. This morning, we woke up at 6:30 am, the earliest we’ve had to wake up so far, to a breakfast of bolones (a ball made of plantain, cheese, and meat), as well as eggs and some fruits. After breakfast, we toured two small businesses: Fabrica Cerquíe, a quinoa pop company, and then Zapatería Avevalo, a handmade shoe company. The owner of Fabrica Cerquíe, Eduardo, told us about how the company started off as a college project but later turned into a passion for helping with the malnutrition and obesity that many Ecuadorians face today. We got to purchase different quinoa pop cereals: vanilla, chocolate, passionfruit, panela (a type of brown sugar), as well as chocolate bars (100% cacao – which was a first try for some of us). The company gives back to the community by sourcing the quinoa from local farmers. Then we visited Zapatería Arevalo, the handmade shoe company. Dorita introduced us to how shoes are made and we were able to watch Vicente, who has been creating shoes since he was 14, show the different steps of making a shoe. Dorita also told us how they give back to the community by sourcing the leather locally. We had the chance to purchase these handmade shoes before going back to the hotel for lunch. #Money #FutureBusinessOwners.

What hit our hearts during these visits was how much energy and effort they put into their business. It was unlike the large corporate shops we normally buy from. In the afternoon, we had an insightful discussion about how we felt about our visits and the state of global business. We all started thinking deeper about where we buy our products and where our products come from. As Líderes del Día, we were really proud of our peers for stepping up and sharing their thoughts. We were also really inspired by the owners and workers.

After we came back to the hotel, we were greeted with a delicious bowl of quinoa soup, and a plate with shrimp, rice, tostones (plantain), and pickled vegetables. When we finished our lunch we got the chance to call home and play Ultimate Stressball (we didn’t have a frisbee) #VeryCreative. Then, we all got to go out and shop at local stores and a pastry shop – we got to splurge on snacks #MoneyAgain #StockingUp. Our program coordinator, Mateo, got us helado (a traditional ice cream) with many different fruit flavors; it was very tasty! For dinner, we had pasta with meatballs, rice, and pickled broccoli & cauliflower #NotMissingFoodFromHome.

Being the second Leaders of the Day was a bit nerve-racking at first – we had to wake up at 6 am to wake everyone else up (Lots of pressure!). However, in the end, we managed to keep the group together and (slightly) on time. We learned more about how to speak up for ourselves and to be bolder leaders. From practicing our Spanish to head counting to making sure everyone was here, all of it was part of the experience. All in all, it went smoothly and we were able to “pass the torch” to the next leaders! #FutureLeaders #LiveLaughLove

Razane and Kieran