Passionate and adventurous, Paul Kirch’s affinity for South America started while studying for his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College. As part of a six-month internship, Kirch moved to Caracas, Venezuela where he helped to build a school and source clean water for a community development project in Cano Negro, an area three hours east of Caracas.
Some years later, after completing his MBA and CPA, Kirch continued to travel throughout South America as a software sales consultant helping companies in Argentina, Peru and Brazil to implement large-scale systems to enable them to do business internationally. A year ago, Kirch joined NetSuite in San Mateo, Calif. as a principal in the software vertical, overseeing the implementation of NetSuite for startups and companies with international operations.
For Kirch, the opportunity to volunteer with Fundación Ruta 40 as a part of SuiteVolunteers, NetSuite’s pro bono volunteer program, was a great fit for his experience in international business and passion for South America. It also helped that he spoke fluent Spanish.
Fundacion Ruta 40, a nonprofit based outside of Buenos Aires, Argentina, is named after Argentina’s famous highway that connects the most southern tip of the country with the capital city. The organization is committed to strengthening education in rural communities along the highway by identifying the needs of local schools and providing training and resources to educators and students.
In 2013, Fundación Ruta 40 became a grantee of NetSuite.org’s software donation program and began using NetSuite to streamline business processes. Two years later, Josefina Devota, who is responsible for Institutional Development at Fundación Ruta 40, applied for the SuiteVolunteer program. She was awarded capacity building training.
Devota and her colleague Mariana Gallo of Fundación Ruta 40 were introduced to Kirch, and Gary Hornbeek of NetSuite. Both were selected for their expertise in how NetSuite’s software can help an organization manage their inventory and finances and their Spanish language skills.
After Devota and Gallo shared the “pain points” of trying to keep Fundación Ruta 40 running smoothly with the SuiteVolunteers, from managing the supplies they were receiving as donations to distributing these donations to schools throughout Argentina, Kirch said he quickly realized that Fundacion Ruta 40 was using NetSuite as a basic ledger, but was not maximizing the software’s capabilities to reconcile their books and track and maintain inventory.
Kirch and Hornbeck organized demos over WebEx and talked the grantees through how to track donations and know what items they had in each of their specific locations over Skype. It was incredible to be able to do this kind of capacity building work with technology, despite the teams being 6,000 miles apart, Kirch said.
By the end the three-month project, which wrapped up in June, Fundación Ruta 40 was able to automate the reconciliation of their bank statements and create an inventory system in NetSuite. The team is now able to track donated inventory items and in-kind donations from the initial receipt of the goods to their final disposition for use at any one of the hundreds of projects that Fundación Ruta 40 administers. The result is that less time is spent trying to figure out where things are and more time getting supplies out into the schools.
“It’s important to step back from the day to day,” Kirch said of his experience. “There’s more to life than simply doing your job.”
He added that he was grateful to share his professional experience with a nonprofit organization that normally wouldn’t have access to this type of capacity-building training.
For more information on NetSuite’s pro bono volunteer program, visit: http://www.netsuite.org/citizenship.shtml