10 YEARS OF THE FOUNDATION
We interviewed Gloria Vergés de Fisas, Co-owner and Co-founder of Natura Bissé, and President of the Foundation, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Foundation.
“The Ricardo Fisas Natura Bissé Foundation started from the concern of its founder, Ricardo Fisas, wanting to return to society what he had received from people in terms of trust in his products. Today, 10 years later, the Foundation has two of their own programs and several collaborative projects whose purpose is to contribute to the well-being of people. “
Hello, Gloria. Could you explain the Foundation’s philosophy and the projects that it carries out?
The Ricardo Fisas Natura Bissé Foundation is an organization whose mission is to contribute to the well-being of people through two of their own projects: the Oncology Skin Care Program, the current pillar on which it is based, and Project Difference. We also carry out collaborative projects with social action and international cooperation entities whose values are aligned with those of the Foundation.
The Oncology Skin Care Program’s purpose is to prevent and treat individually as well as professionally the possible side effects of oncological treatment for anyone, regardless of their financial standing.
Thanks to the wonderful team of volunteers, that devote their valuable experience and time, to hospitals and patient associations who give us space unselfishly to treat people, and to the products provided by Natura Bissé, we can provide these skin care treatments to those who receive them, cost free.
Through this program we also offer an Oncology Skin Care annual course, based on professional volunteers that provide personalized and free treatments. It is a training course aimed at aestheticians who want to specialize in this field. In the 10 editions that we have organized so far, we have trained more than 500 beauticians, of which approximately 10% volunteer for Oncological Aesthetics at some point in their lives.
Another initiative of the Foundation is Project Difference, where we seek to democratize the accompaniment of children with learning differences, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or dyslexia, as well as provide teacher training and follow-up.
We are also very pleased that Joaquín Serra, Project Difference Founder and Trustee of the Ricardo Fisas Natura Bissé Foundation, the real engine of the initiative and tirelessly devoted to development of the project, was recently appointed member of the Board of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), which is great recognition of and support for this educational project.
Why did they decide to undertake a project in an area such as education, so different from Oncological Aesthetics?
It happened 5 years ago, when Joaquín, aware of and concerned about students with learning difficulties (as in the case of ADHD, dyslexia or dyscalculia), proposed carrying out this initiative to the board.
Regardless, although the action field of our programs may be very different, they all have a similar structure and the same objective: to contribute to the well-being of people and create long term sustainable projects.
How did the Foundation come about?
It all started in 2008, when my husband and I decided that was the time to delegate the management of Natura Bissé to our children.
We felt the need to be supportive and able to help less favored people. We wanted to do our bit in this world and redirect the fruits of our efforts into a good cause. Ricardo once stated, “Either we create a Foundation to give back society all it has given us in terms of trusting our products or (said jokingly) or I start a Natura Bissé II”. That’s where the idea of the Foundation came from.
What do you think was the biggest challenge the Foundation has faced?
The biggest challenge without any doubt was to convert a Foundation dedicated to granting microcredits, into another capable of managing its own projects, which were to be collaborative and generate value chains.
Initially, the Foundation’s mission was focused on supporting Bolivian women with small micro-loans, but my husband and I felt we could contribute more. We had the experience and support of Natura Bissé and at that time we were not taking advantage of it in any solidarity cause. Soon the Oncology Aesthetics Program was set up, in which Natura Bissé was able to provide R & D and knowledge regarding skin care, training for aestheticians, products for treatments and funding to carry out the project.
What successes have you achieved in these 10 years?
In addition to having found a path that has satisfied our concern to return to society the support and trust that it had given to our products, we have managed to create a system of collaborative networks that ensure the growth and continuity of all projects.
Nowadays, the Oncology Aesthetic Program network is made up of hospitals, patient associations and voluntary aestheticians. Thanks to them, we have carried out more than 6,000 treatments on 1,700 people diagnosed with cancer.
Secondly, Project Difference now has a network of 9 schools and more than 200 trained teachers, which means we have supported nearly 3,000 students.
Another very important goal for us was to establish an involved and committed team in which passion, human quality, effort, professionalism and ability to difficulties were reflected in the day-to-day of every project, the way my husband did. Today he would be proud to see what has been created.
What are your objectives in the short and medium term?
Our main objective is to reach the maximum number of people who could use our help in their hospital, regardless of their financial standing. And we are working on the consolidation and growth of our programs in order to achieve this.
What anecdote would you highlight from these 10 years?
My husband said he was a good orchestra conductor, and he was, without any doubt. He always recognized that, without his team, he would not have done anything. And that is also reflected in the Foundation, where the collaborative spirit and volunteering are basic. It is what animates and makes it grow. He had a very resounding motto, and when he saw it clearly he always told us, “Let it be done.” And although there is still much to do, I know he would feel proud and happy today.
Before ending, I would like to thank the team of volunteers and the collaboration of hospitals, patient associations and schools. Thanks to them we are able to offer the best care and dedication to people who benefit from our programs. I also want to thank Natura Bissé’s client’s loyalty, those who participate in the Foundation through the donation that the company gives to the Foundation and the generosity of the donors and the trust of the collaborators. Without all of them, this project would not have been possible. I hope we can continue counting on your support and working together to face future challenges and achieve our future goals.