Orlando Bravo

People around the world watched in horror as Hurricanes Irma and Maria wreaked havoc in the Caribbean and decimated Puerto Rico. Now imagine this is your hometown and you hear from family and friends on the island that food is scarce, hospitals are running out of supplies and not a single form of emergency aid has been received. Orlando Bravo, a venture capitalist who runs a private equity firm in San Francisco, experienced just this. A week after the storm hit, Bravo, who hails from Mayaguez on Puerto Rico’s west coast, sprang in to action.

What needled at him was the idea that hospitals couldn’t help people because they lacked equipment like IV’s. So, he purchased 800 pounds of medicine, supplies, diapers, food and satellite phones that he sent by charter plane to Aguadilla on the Western side of the island where aid and emergency response was basically non-existent.

As a businessman and entrepreneur Bravo, 47, is familiar with taking matters into his own hands. As a teen, he took a tennis scholarship to attend Brown University which moved him from the tropical island to snowy New England. The Stanford Law alumnus took his career into his own hands when he left a position at Morgan Stanley to start his company, Thoma Bravo, LLC which invests in software and technology service sectors.

What started as a single flight in October 2017 became a series of weekly trips that have brought over 200,000 pounds of supplies to isolated towns and interior mountain municipalities where nearly 50% of the population still don’t have electricity or water.

After Bravo’s first visit to his home country which now looked like “a war zone” he utilized his Bravo Family Foundation to start Podemos Puerto Rico with a $10 million donation — $2 million for immediate emergency needs such as food, water purification systems, and an additional $8 million to aid in long term rebuilding efforts. The foundation is focusing on the towns of San German, Mayaguez, Lares, Utuado, Arroyo, Comerio, Guayamo and Arecibo. “Our foundation’s gifts and efforts are focused on providing direct and targeted relief to communities in Puerto Rico that have been difficult to reach and lag in aid.” Bravo stated on the foundation’s website.

What baffled Bravo, and many other good Samaritans that provided aid and donations was the slow and disjointed response, if any, by the local and federal government. “If we can get there as a tiny organization…anybody can get there. We got there from 3000 miles away,” he told a local Bay Area reporter after his first relief trip.
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With long term plans to remain and rebuild with local organizations and young people on the ground, Bravo’s foundation has upped the ante and raised $25 million thanks to generous donors. “The Bravo Family Foundation is committed to anticipate the evolving needs of the hard-hit people of Puerto Rico, and to work along with the mayors to rebuild.” With a native son like Orlando in its corner, Puerto Rico is sure to once again shine brightly.

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