Beatriz Carmena López (Spain/Ecotourism) and Vera Castelbranco (Portugal/Rural Tourism)

Beatriz Carmena López (NE) and Vera Castelbranco (HE)

New Entrepreneur (NE)
Name & surname: Beatriz Carmena López
Country: Spain
Age: 25
Sector of activity: Ecotourism
Have you already started your business? Yes.
Name of business/website: Kowabunga Ecoproject,
What is your business? It is an association of ecotouristic destinations development and promotion of conservation projects through ecotourism.

Host Entrepreneur (HE)
Name & surname: Vera Castelbranco
Country: Portugal
Sector of activity: Rural tourism
Experience in running a business: 25 years
Name of business/website: Quinta do Troviscal /
What is your business? It is a very warm rural hostel of 4 bedrooms.

Period of exchange: 06/07/2020 – 30/10/2020
Duration of exchange: 3,5 months

How did Beatriz learn about the importance of proactivity, change and growth for leading a successful and sustainable business?

I didn’t know what to expect: in the middle of the Covid crisis, I decided to start working in Quinta do Troviscal, a rural touristic business in Portugal. I just knew that I wanted this experience. It is true that I thought that the coronavirus would make things more challenging, but everything was so easy with Vera and joining her business was the best thing I could have done.

I was looking for a tourist organization that was committed to the thriving of nature. The day I arrived, Vera, my host, told me that we needed to water ten trees that she had planted on the way to Quinta do Troviscal, my new home. She showed me all the work that she did during the past 30 years, and it was amazing; she created an ecosystem full of flowers for bees. She was fighting against invasive plants, she was planting trees in her neighborhood, and she reforested an area that was burnt even though it didn’t even belong to her. I was amazed and right away thought that I wanted to learn a lot from her incredible spirit.

I saw her managing everything from the early morning on; going up and downstairs, working to have everything fixed for her clients. She taught me many things about tourism and about how to make things possible in your own business.

Our daily job was to prepare breakfast for our clients and to clean the rooms and the common areas of Quinta do Troviscal. These tasks took some time in the morning. I was free in the afternoon, so I spent the time I had working on my future project and relaxing.

If I had to choose some of the most important things that I learned, I would say that if you want to work on your own, you have to be very careful and you have to have everything under control. You have to ask for opinions on your project, what your clients need, and what they would like to have changed, in order to improve every day. Vera cared so much about the impressions of her visitors, so she always asked them and listened to them in order to fix what was wrong. Most of the organizations and people that I know don’t change, even if they know they should improve something, but Vera does change and that’s why she is successful.

The main thing that made me so happy here was Vera’s environmental spirit. She tried to reuse everything, and she chose to have a small business in order to assure silence and respect for her environment. She loves to listen to the birds and to see wild animals in her place, and every single time that she finds garbage on the ground, she throws it into the trash can. She is a very conscientious person, which is what I admire so much about her.

In conclusion, I learned about the importance of being active, productive and attentive in order to improve and grow as a business, but also about the importance of enjoying life and being happy in your free time, which was incredibly easy with Vera.