Monday Jul 22, 2013

RetailROI Impacts Lives

RetailROI is a charity aimed at leveraging the power of the retail industry to help at-risk children across the globe.  Their premier fund-raising event is Super Saturday, an all-day conference for retail executives.  Last year the event raised nearly $300,000 to be used for several projects.  Additional funds were raised via booth programs at NRF's annual Big Show in New York and ongoing donations from individuals.  I recently returned from Honduras where I was able to witness the impact of those funds on the children of the second poorest country in Latin America.

RetailROI and Lifesong partnered to fund a new multi-purpose building for Plan Escalon, a school for orphans and at-risk kids. The building, which was named "Centro Vida" during the dedication ceremony, provides an auditorium for the 550 students to gather, play sports, and worship.  Below is Guy Henry, director of Plan Escalon, along with Greg Buzek, co-founder of RetailROI.

In addition, a new state-of-the-art kitchen was built to serve three meals a day to the students and staff.  In the picture below are the girls making corn tortillas.

But it's not just about improving the school.  The students frequently go into the mountains to distribute food and clothing to small villages in need.  The visiting team from RetailROI was invited to tag along one of these "life in action" trips where we also distributed books, shoes, toothbrushes, and toys.  You can see from the houses in the background that living conditions are less than ideal.

Our next endevour is to produce an integration standard for connecting the POS to donation processors to simplify the ability for shoppers to make charitable donations at the cash register.  The new NRF-ARTS standard will support rounding-up, donation matching, and other ways for retailers to quickly solicit at checkout.

So here are some ways you can help:

  1. Attend Super Saturday.  Its the day before NRF's Big Show, so you'll likely be in New York anyway.
  2. Take an overseas Vision Trip and see the impact of RetailROI.
  3. Sponsor a child at Plan Escalon.
  4. Join ARTS and help develop the Change4Charity standard.
  5. Donate to RetailROI.

I'm proud to be part of an industry that takes action and impacts so many lives.

Growth in Latin America

The Latin American economy continues to grow, and with it more retailers are investing in their IT.  I recently traveled to Honduras with several retail industry leaders to visit Plan Escalon, a school that receives support from Retail ROI.  I told the roughly 600 students and staff that Oracle was committed to growth in the region and already has offices in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela.

Retailers such as Grupo Pão de Açúcar, Mercal, OXXO, Farmatodo, Renner, Falabella, Pernambucanas, and CM continue to expand domestically, while North American retailers like Best Buy, Lowes, Walmart, and 7-11 move further into Latin America.

Unfortunately the growth is not spread evenly with much concentrated in Mexico and Brazil, and overall economic growth is predicted to slow from 4.5% to 3.75% in the coming years.  That said, Latin American growth is still substantial and retailers continue to benefit from an emerging middle class.  As employment improves and corruption lessens, the region should prove to be fertile ground for further retail expansion.

If the students I met in Honduras are any indication of the future of Latin America, then I'm not worried in the least.  The future looks bright for this region of the world.

Tuesday Jan 10, 2012

Retail Orphan Initiative

A few years back we had the CIO of SuperValu, Paul Singer, speak at Oracle Open World in the retail track.  While I was expecting the usual stories about retail IT, Paul surprised everyone by showing a very inspiring video about the benefits and importance of adoption.  Not only was Paul an adoptive parent, but he used his influential positions at SuperValu and Target to be an advocate for kids.

I recall two people in the audience, Greg Buzek and Jeff Roster, both analysts for the retail industry, being moved by Paul's passion.  It wasn't long before they helped form the Retail Orphan Initiative along with Marc Millstein and Rose Spicer.  The organization, called RetailROI for short, raises funds from the retail community for the benefit of orphans all around the world.  This is the third year for the SuperSaturday session at the NRF Big Show, a very informative event that doubles as a fundraiser.

Oracle's Rose Spicer, who is also on RetailROI's board of advisors, has collaborated with Build-A-Bear to raise awareness and funds for RetailROI at NRF.  On Monday morning she and many customers will meet at the local Build-A-Bear to create 150 stuffed animals that will be donated to New York orphans in partnership with the KIDS organization. 

Additionally, anyone that donates $20 to RetailROI in the Oracle booth will receive one of the bears pictured above.  With just 2,000 donations, RetailROI will get $40,000 which will support 1,000 kids in Malawi.  As you can see, there are several opportunities to support this worthy cause next week during the Big Show.


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