It’s hard not to have a crush on Nico Berardi. After all, the 25-year-old Argentinian has already found his life’s work and passion; to eradicate poverty in Latin America through community development and empowerment. At his relatively young age, he’s already CEO of TECHO-US, the youth-led non-profit that builds transitional housing and puts volunteers and community members together to break the cycle of poverty. Young, passionate and driven, Berardi is a true visionary. And if we may say so, he’s also kind of a hunk.
Berardi’s involvement with TECHO began when he volunteered with the organization while still a teenager in Buenos Aires, shortly after TECHO was founded. He was a full-time university student who threw himself into the mission of TECHO, building volunteer teams, finding and empowering new, talented volunteers and designing and implementing innovative projects.
Berardi quickly became the leader of the Argentine team, and after four years, he joined the U.S. fundraising team as Director of Development, forming corporate alliances in Miami and New York and cultivating relationships with high net worth donors. After just one year in the U.S., he assumed the leadership of the team as CEO. Under his leadership, fundraising has doubled and staff numbers have tripled as TECHO expands its presence across Latin America. He’s also at the helm of #COLECTA, TECHO’s large scale, live and virtual fundraising event that is part street party and part online gathering.
We asked Berardi about his vision for TECHO and it’s mission to eradicate poverty, and here’s what he told us:
His vision “The enormous impact TECHO has had is very small compared to what is going to happen 10 years down the road when the hundreds of thousands of youth volunteers we’ve trained start taking the reins of their countries. That generational leadership change will be key.”
Most rewarding part of his job? “Working at TECHO is much more than rewarding; it is the opportunity to devote 100% of your life to it. It is a privilege to be able to dedicate 100% of your efforts to a movement that is challenging the status quo of our societies. It’s about each family’s hope that is lit, each volunteer that joins, each corporation that decides to change the way they do business.”
What’s in it for him? “Personally I have received an incredible education from a management standpoint, but perhaps most importantly from a human perspective. Being in contact with people who are living in our world’s toughest conditions is an incredible privilege that teaches you many values and forces you to challenge your previous ones.”
The biggest challenge to eradicate poverty? “Slums are a reflection of how we think as a society. Changing the way we think about poverty is today’s greatest roadblock to overcoming poverty. It’s a monumental task that we will only achieve when absolutely every sector of society decides to become a part of the solution; and that’s the challenge. Many sectors of society do not believe in the possibility for change.”
The best chance to eradicate poverty? “We are in a historic moment in the development of the world; for the first time ever we have the resources, the technology and, increasingly, the will to overcome poverty. That, today, is the largest opportunity. The wind is blowing very strongly, and in the right direction. It’s up to organizations like TECHO to have every sector join together to effectively harness all that energy.
More about TECHO: TECHO is a non-profit organization led by university students and young professionals. TECHO works with families in extreme poverty across 19 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in order to overcome poverty. In only 15 years, TECHO has built almost 100,000 transitional houses and mobilized over half a million youth volunteers. The intervention model consists of three stages: Transitional Housing, Social Inclusion Programs and Sustainable Communities.