Published: May 8, 2014
charlie gladitsch
torey de rozario

By Teen Rollins, CESR Program Coordinator

Charlie Gladitsch came to the University of Colorado for the strong business and environmental programs, so how did he end up living and working in Rwanda as the Sustainability Coordinator for Hope for Life Ministry (HFLM)? That is an interesting story that involves fellow Leeds and CESR alumna, Torey De Rozario, and a few influential CESR classes.

In his junior year at Leeds, Charlie took BCOR 3010Business Applications of Social Responsibility, taught by Kevin McMahon. This course set up a new way of thinking for Charlie; it provided a framework for seeing business through socially responsible eyes. The junior level course, required for all Leeds students, explores alternative views of the role of business in our global society through case analysis. Students are encouraged to isolate and articulate their personal values that will shape their business conduct going forward; this made a huge impression on Charlie.

As the class was drawing to a close, Charlie was looking for a way to continue and expand his new way of thinking about business. A friend and fellow Leeds student, Torey De Rozario, recommended CESR 4005 Business Solutions for the Developing World,taught by Birdie Reznicek. In this class, Charlie began to learn what was wrong with many of the organizational approaches to poverty alleviation around the world. Business Solutions for the Developing World provides students with practical knowledge and hands-on experience in developing sustainable business strategies to meet the real-world needs of small business entrepreneurs in developing countries. The idea of combining smart business with social good clicked with Charlie and a passion was discovered.

Early in the class, students formed the groups they would work in for the semester and selected the organization they wanted to partner with, Hope for Life Ministry, (HFLM). HFLM is an organization dedicated to serving street boys in Rwanda. The group runs a children’s home for former street boys who have been neglected, abused, imprisoned, or orphaned. The organization also focuses on the families of each boy promoting reconciliation and reintegration, the main goal of the organization. Throughout the course, Charlie’s project team worked on a project charter focusing on a scope of work where the team felt like they could actually make a difference for HFLM. Ultimately, the group decided to develop an income generating project for HFLM in an effort to provide consistent income, and decrease the reliance on cyclical-fundraising. The group researched and made recommendations around crops such as corn, potatoes, and beans. They also provided information on selling trees, raising goats and selling rain catchers and water filters. Charlie noted that this was not your average group project, everyone was truly invested!

Fast forward a few months to October 2013, and Charlie had made his way to Rwanda to join Torey, the current Executive Director of HFLM, and the rest of the HFLM team. Charlie is currently serving as the Sustainability Coordinator, which means he is focusing on empowering families through overseeing reintegration and microloans, promoting sustainability through development and implementation of income-generating projects and networking in the community, and assisting the executive director with the development of staff training programs. Charlie says, “The job has been challenging but incredibly rewarding." 

In her role as Executive Director, Torey has taken on tremendous responsibility as well. One of her main activities includes working with the government to ensure HFLM can remain open and operational in Rwanda. Recently, legislation has changed, making many foreign-run organizations for street children almost impossible to operate without an incredibly strong relationship with the government. HFLM has Torey to thank for their strong relationship. 

Both Charlie and Torey use their business skills every day to make HFLM sustainable and relevant in the Kigali community in which they live. Charlie, who received CESR’s SRE Certificate in May 2013, and Torey who focused on International Business, were both able to take what they learned at Leeds and carry it with him to Africa. Though their task is not easy, they know that applying sound business principles in the world of non-profits and poverty alleviation has the ability to make the most impact in the end, a key message of the work done at CESR.