The following statement describes the experience of a student who managed to get sponsored to be able to participate in a previous edition of the South American Business Forum. As it is known, SABF waives all participants their costs of activities, transportation within Buenos Aires, accommodation and meals. However, it is not possible to waive, besides, the costs of transportation to and from Buenos Aires.
For this same reason some students find themselves in the need of looking for financial aid – as they cannot afford paying for their own tickets. The purpose of the following story is to encourage all SABF 2010 postulants who need external help not to stop writing their essay (needed to be eligible) despite their financial situation. There are several ways of being sponsored and Walter Monterroza, from El Salvador tells us his experience on how to make it happen. We very much thank him for his contribution!

Walter Monterroza, Universidad Dr. José Matías Delgado, El Salvador.

“My name is Walter Monterroza, I’m 23 years old and I’m a student of Industrial Engineering at Universidad Dr. José Matías Delgado in El Salvador. I heard about the SABF thanks to a very good friend of mine who is from Honduras, and I must say that, when I got to know what it was, I was truly in love and got completely inspired in the idea of the project. I started reading the content of the website so as to understand better its goals, its participants and what had to be done in order to participate. I can say that, in those minutes, the following thought crossed my mind: What an excellent opportunity!
While reading the website’s content, I got to the part that describes what costs are waived and which are the benefits that there for selected participants. I read very carefully the sentence that goes “Travel expenses to and from Buenos Aires are not covered”. I always liked getting involved in new experiences, new opportunities, and the SABF simply represented one of them.
I can’t deny that the first idea that crosses our mind is: “I cannot afford a flying ticket!” At least for me, being a student and living thousands of kilometres away from Buenos Aires.
Without a doubt I can say that I took one of the most correct decisions in my life: PARTICIPATE IN THE SABF, even though I had no idea how I was going to pay for my ticket. And this is the beginning of the story that I would like to share with you, no matter the country where you live.
I began reading about the forum’s main topic. In 2009, it was New Paradigms, New Challenges, and I decided to write my contribution on the Education aspect. One month after having finished my application, during the first days of June, I got an e-mail in which I was announced the following: I had been selected to participate in the 5th Edition of the SABF (I jumped out of my desk like crazy!).
However, alter taking seat again and re-reading the e-mail carefully, a new stage of the story began: The flying ticket that would get me to Buenos Aires and participate in the SABF!
These are the moments in which we would love to have unlimited credit in our credit cards so as to purchase the ticket right away; but, of course, that was not my case nor many others’. But I can tell you that I had managed to get selected and that meant a new and different opportunity. In this scenario, with the formal invitation letter that the Organising Team provided me, I started my research on possible ways of sponsorship to be able to afford my ticket.

I had the chance to participate in the SABF thanks to sponsorship, and I’ll tell you what I had to do in order to get sponsored.

  • The first thing to do is outline a budget for the trip: air tickets, extra money just in case…
  • Then, you must practice a brainstorming of ideas on all the alternatives of help you may get. For example: Your university (most universities are interested in supporting students who participate in forums, and even more if you let them know about it), the youth secretary’s office of your country, youth associations, enterprises that support activities for young people, private companies, friends or acquaintances of your family, etc. You must consider ALL the options.
  • The next step is to ask the SABF Organising Team for a formal letter that guarantees your participation in the event (this letter is of extreme importance, as it is the only way you have to prove you have been selected)
  • After this, you must organise a list of options and begin direct contact with the directors of these institutions. It is important that you contact them directly, as they reflect the seriousness of the event.
    On your way you will come across people who will say: That is impossible! We do not support that! There is no money! This shouldn’t let you down. You should always ask: “Do you know any institution that can help me?” You can always find new references. The important thing is that you have your goals clear: Participate in the SABF.
  • In my case, the first institution I approached was the Department of Social Projection of my university; I requested to see the Director and I got a meeting. Despite the fact that, by nature, they are very busy people, they are also willing to listen to you. I would like to make a special point here: you must be clear and concise; remember that you don’t have much time and you wouldn’t like to be wasting theirs. A piece of advice that may help you at the moment of your appointment is:
    a) Write a simple letter outlining what the SABF is, how you managed to participate, the benefits that you and your university may get out of the event, and, most of all, what you need in order to make it happen (the money for the air tickets)
    b) Bring along the formal letter that the Organising Teams provides.
    c) Take with you all the material you believe might be important and that can help you negotiate better (the ticket fee, a presentation about the SABF, the essay with which you got selected, etc.)
    At this point, I advise you to be patient. They can tell you that there is a whole process to undergo and they might need to get back to you later. Just leave your contact details and wait for a reply. As soon as they have a response, they will let you know.
    They may tell you that, for the moment, they are not able to support you. Ask them right there if they can help you through the companies that are partners with your university: They might do so!
  • In case you fail to get sponsored by your university, you must undergo the same process with all the institutions in your list. There will always be someone willing to help a visionary young student aiming to conquer the World. Remember: You achieved the hardest part (being selected to participate); the ticket can always be waived!
  • Another possibility is to distribute the total amount of money into several enterprises, so that you do not have to ask for full sponsorship every time you have an appointment. That can work too.

You must be creative and think positively all the time; you must be willing to participate. This way, you will always do your best to be there at Buenos Aires.

Try to be in Couch with the SABF Organising Team all the time, as they will always be ready to help you with what you need. Another key point is the support from your parents: Keep them up to date with everything you do; they can help you get sponsored too.

With this story I wanted to motivate you not to stop applying to an event like SABF, just because you do not have the money presently. Try to do your best with the essay; you first need to get selected. The rest of the road you must travel yourself. Do not be let down if some one says “No” for an answer. There’s always a way! Cheer up and face de challenge; you will not regret living the SABF experience”