Right now, we are cooking up a feast! Here’s the first course – the launch of phase I of the ASMAA’s business directory. This is a work in progress, and like many projects I don't believe this one will ever have a real deadline, one that we can say. That's it ... we've reached the end. Instead this project follows a continous improvement program. In the meantime ... Enjoy it ...
As the CEO of ASMAA my first challenge was to identify a project that could be used to not only market the Algarve in a structured format and to promote the local business community, but one that would concurrently assist us in gaining the funding that we need to operate while at the same time enabling us to remain totally independent.
It involved me getting the buy-in and support of my colleagues to the "mad" ideas I came up with. Fun times where had by all during this process, not to mention many heated debates where at times we all agreed to disagree, although the end result is now here, and we are all very happy with it.
Another serious challenge that we took notice of, was the fact that we at ASMAA had become an informal and free “advice” bureau.
We regularly receive requests from holidaymakers, from investors, from local residents and the business sector. And there have been thousands of these requests over the years, with many of these being the same type and addressing the same issues. So we knew that automating the info was a first step to follow, and the solution - the creation of an extensive and multi-purpose information hub.
Based on our experiences we knew we had on our hands a mega challenge to address and very limited resources to do so.
While all of this was happening in the background, at the forefront we were carrying on with our anti-oil drilling activism as well as lobbying activities, which brought with it its own unique challenges too.
Talk about a mix bag of challenges.
Try and picture if you can, a group of human beings holding many balls in the air while working in unison to not let any of them fall … that’s been us since we started the association in 2012.
But to be honest, it has also brought with it lots of fun and lots of laughter as we moved from original concept through the various concept testing phases before entering into its proper design phases and finally the implementation phase.
While we looked at concepts … our creative juices just flowed unabated and freely. Creativity is always the fun part of any project … and did we have fun? Yep. You guessed it. We did. We still do!
The realization that what we wanted and really needed was a Rolls Royce or a Tesla of a system for ASMAA, but we knew that we didn’t even had the funds to buy a bicycle wheel never mind getting any of the “top of the range” customized for purpose systems. How to overcome that challenge?
When the idea first arose to create a new type of business directory for the Algarve the biggest challenge identified was how to manage and showcase the information in a user-friendly manner. Now we are talking about the practical aspects.
Previously many, many decades ago (in one of my previous lives) some of my colleagues and I had been involved in the conceptual design of a system to manage massive amounts of data – what today is referred to as “Big data”.
In these days technology had not advanced as far as today and such an undertaking was indeed a challenge, but at the same time it enabled us to identify many of the issues that we would be facing in this new venture. While I moved on in my career into other fields of interest, my previous colleagues kept on plodding along in their IT world becoming world-class developers.
It stands to reason, that my first stop as I’m not a developer was to get in touch with some of them and to “beg” for their help, as after all we just didn’t have the hundreds of thousands of Euros needed for such a venture, neither did we want to get involved with the market driven forces of mezzanine or even Angel/Venture Capital (Vulture Capitalists) to get access to the type of funding we knew it was required for our proposed venture.
The bottom line is that we have succeed in getting what we wanted and how we wanted it; we succeed in reaching an agreement that is mutually beneficial for ASMAA, for the developers and for the communities that we serve.
We have much to be grateful for, not only us at ASMAA but we believe that every single person and business that crosses our path stands to benefit from our endeavors even if they are not really aware of all the benefits around the corner yet … they will do so in time.
Right now, we are cooking up a feast … but like my dad used to say, at the end of the day the proof is in the pudding.
Here’s the first course – the launch of phase I of the ASMAA’s business directory …