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Ferrán Gelis, Country Director in Ecuador: “What people really need is a decent job”

Ferrán Gelis Escala

When Ferrán began studying Industrial Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, international relations was not part of his plans. However, the last years of college caught his attention and he decided to pursue a master’s degree in Microfinance and Development. Today, we are fortunate enough to have a magnificent professional in our team who we are grateful for so many decisions. CODESPA began working in Ecuador in 1987, and half of our history has been in their hands.


What was your path before you arrived in Ecuador?

My history with CODESPA begins in 2003, when I entered CODESPA Catalonia as a volunteer. I joined them in Ecuador for a year with an ICEX scholarship. When I came back, after some time working in the private sector, CODESPA gave me the opportunity to be the project coordinator in Catalonia. After two years of soaking up international work, in 2006 I decided to accept the position of delegate in the Dominican Republic. I knew it was a big responsibility, but I was ready to take the plunge. After two exciting years, I decided to pack my bags for Ecuador, to carry out the same work, and I have been here ever since.


How do the communities receive you the first time they meet you?

It depends a lot on their previous experiences, because not all cooperation in the area has been good, specifically in Ecuador. Ethnic groups are also an important factor because the communities that live on the coast are more trusting, versus the indegenous people who live in the mountains. Other than that, our collaboration has gone very well.


In which areas of Ecuador does CODESPA work in?

Except in the Galapagos Islands, we have worked in all the country, at least once. Ecuador is a small country divided into three parts: the Amazon, mountains, and coast. Recently, our focus has been on those three regions.


What is the main change experienced by the beneficiaries?

There are many problems such as gender violence, diseases, and malnutrition. However, what people really need is decent work. When a person receives job training, they manage to not only increase their production capacity, but also other imperceptable benefits such as improving self-esteem and life expectancies.


What do you think is the CODESPA’s hallmark?

We are specialists in economic development, and directly execute each project with our own adapted methodologies. Consistently working towards bridging the gap between training, market access, and financing. All projects are in this line, therefore, we are conditioned to know how to respond. In addition, we have people who are working in the field, accompanying this entire process, allowing for a network of contacts with those who have many years of experience. For me, CODESPA is a great organization, with a great job, that manages to generate changes in people and allows me to develop as a professional and as a person. Thanks to CODESPA, I work in what I am passionate about.