Last week we spent a few nights at Mano a Mano Eco Hostal. On the first night, we were there, Daniela, and Mateo ended up sitting with a diverse group of people. One of these people was Marcos, the owner of Get Up Stand and Up Surf.

***Teacher friends, there is a lesson in here somewhere to unpack with your students.

Get Up Stand Up and Surf all Started With $100

Marcos is a surfer. He loves it. That is where his story begins. He was working at Surfing Turtle Lodge in Las Penitas, Nicaragua. For those of you who are not familiar with backpacking, you can often trade hours of service in a hostel for free basic accommodation, and sometimes you can be lucky enough to score a free meal as well. While at Surfing Turtle, Marcos saw a need, bought a surfboard, and started giving surfing lessons. His business grew, to the point that he had purchased three surfboards. 

There was still something missing, the guys he was working with needed to look like surfers. As there were no surf shops in Leon, Marcos decided to make his own stuff. So, Marcos took the 100 dollars he had and invested in his idea. There was a need in the market.

From there, Marcos spent all his time starting a business. He rented a small place in Leon and off he went. Marcos began to buying equipment. He hired employees, and more importantly, he had a vision. Get Up Stand Up and Surf was born.

Fair Trade

Marcos had a vision of a fair trade surf shop. To keep true to his sight, he would have to pay more than the average salary to his employees and that he did. He starts all his employees with $1.25 an hour wage, and a free meal. In Ontario, the minimum wage is set to $14 an hour. How can this be fair trade? Well, when you consider a good salary in Nicaragua is $1.00 an hour it is, and a good meal is also a valued benefit. When you’re hired, you’re trained to do a specific job. As he designs clothes, all of these jobs entail sewing. More than likely, the first job would be to sew a tag onto the back of a shirt.

After three months, there is a possibility at a raise, and new training to be part of another part of the production process. You’re also expected to do some essential things like showing up to work on time and do your job correctly. To help with this, Marcos tries to employee people with no previous experience. This way, he can teach them what the company is striving for without having to unteach lousy work habits. Marcos is very transparent about how the company is doing. If they get a raise or not, the employees are given an explanation, and mostly, it depends on the company’s success.

Taking Care of the Environment

One of the most substantial problems with our world today is garbage. Every day for lunch, in Central America, my family has observed that everything, including meals, is given to you wrapped in plastic or with some styrofoam tray. Marcos also noticed this and decided to take action. He has purchased each of them cutlery and plastic containers they must carry with them when they eat. He knows it is a small amount of garbage that is not being created, but he is hoping it is something they transfer into their everyday lives.

As you can see, Marcos is concerned about the environment. When I investigated the Get Up Stand Up and Surf Instagram account, I stumbled on another one of his initiatives that deal with the local environment. Any adult can come into his establishment with a bag of garbage they have collected from the beach, and he will give them a beer. I know this sounds a bit strange, but I have to admit, Las Penitas was probably the cleanest beach I’ve seen on our trip through Central America.

I’m impressed with Marcos’ efforts with Get Up Stand Up and Surf. If all companies thought about people and the environment like this, our world would be a different place.

Thanks for reading and happy adventuring.

We met Marcos in Las Penitas, at Mano a Mano Ecohostel.