Interested in starting your own journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Rachael Shenyo, Founder and Director of Alticultura, located in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.

What's your organization, and who are your members?

My business has three parts- I focus on the development of a human capacity to change the world through climate change action. One-third of my business is investigating human climate vulnerability. One-third is finding, developing, and testing solutions to pressing local climate issues. The last part is delivering educational programs, leadership training, skills training, and life coaching for changemakers. My customers are varied- I talk to school groups, classrooms, NGOs, governments, individuals, small business owners, social entrepreneurs, college students, artists, writers, and scientists.

Tell us about yourself

I am a polyfacetic person, and I wanted to design a career that would use all of my talents while bringing content and training of importance to the world. I stay motivated by seeing how the people I work with are literally changing the world every day, in large and small ways, using the tools I taught them.

What's your biggest accomplishment as an organization?

I have become one of Central America's leading climate adaptation specialists and have pioneered three groundbreaking climate adaptation techniques for the country of Guatemala.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being an organization?

I detest the amount of time I have to devote to finding funding for our programs. 80% of my time right now goes to fundraising, contract work, and other sources of income generation. We do not yet have full NGO status, so I often put in 90-hour work weeks of volunteer time; it is so frustrating how much you are expected to do for free in this sector.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow an organization today?

This is something I teach to all of my coaching clients at every level.

  1. Find and know your talents- who YOU are and what you bring to the table. With that, find your champions who believe in you.
  2. Define exactly what you want to devote the next five years of your life to, where, and with whom. Network to learn from people who are doing something similar to what you want to do- learn from them, connect to them, meet them, enter work with them.
  3. Do a thorough assessment of the skills, training, degrees, etc., that you have now, what you can get, and what you need to hire or pay someone else to do for you because it will never be a top skill of yours. Make those three things come together.

Where can people find you and your group?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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