We contacted Mr. Alain Robecchi, creator of what was born as a WhatsApp group for sales and purchases, and which today evolves into an Instagram account called @cerrosur_online.
Good afternoon Mr. Alain, we want to thank you for sharing with us the details of this initiative. Could you please tell us how and when did this idea come about?
The Cerro Sur Ventas WhatsApp group was born on January 29, 2019. My wife Paola Hernández and I made sales through WhatsApp and were invited to participate in a group in the Terrazas Sector, via El Rincón. In this group we made good clients and we discovered that the different residences in the sector created this medium, to help neighbors in the purchase and sale of products within their area. I analyzed this group and its regulations, and the idea came up to apply the same solution for the Cerro Sur Sector.
Regarding the group rules, I must admit that at first I was guided by the Terrazas group rules, but over time these rules evolved with our particularities and have become our current operating regulations.
One of the group’s rules is that only residents of the sector can participate.
The first group from Cerro Sur is already full (it has 257 participants). The neighbor Marys Caldera created another group in the sector called “Cerro Sur Ventas / Compra 2”. In this second group we already have more than 120 neighbors and it continues to grow.
In the Cerro Sur Sector there are more than 800 apartments, so this area has potential and we are still expanding.
How has WhatsApp facilitated the interaction between buyers and sellers?
WhatsApp has become an excellent channel for business between neighbors. I can attest that the people who participate are excellent salespeople and customers, and this can be seen in the respect, kindness, appreciation and trust of the participants. On the other hand, the neighbors constantly make controllers so that the norms are fulfilled and that has helped to maintain a healthy group where everyone feels comfortable and in a stable environment.
Although we have faced cases of improper behavior, the group itself has been able to heal itself with the use of the rules, the support of the administrators and the control of the neighbors.
Another key to the success of the WhatsApp group has been the collaboration of the neighbors who agreed to be administrators for each residence. Today we have Administrators in almost all buildings in the sector.
The neighbors who support us as administrators are:
- By Arabella residences: Paola Hernández and Alain Robecchi
- By Zeus residences: Andreina Rodríguez
- By Cerromar residences: Lean
- By Palma Dorada residences: Dairen Mata and Evedren Hernández
- By residences Birds of Bora Bora: Amalia Iron
- By Venice residences: Jose Giraldi
From what we can see Cerro Sur Ventas, the WhatsApp group, has grown especially in this period of pandemic. How has this means of buying and selling fostered the relationship between neighbors? Has it been very useful?
Yes, especially at this time it has been very useful above our expectations. This group has helped neighbors to be able to shop in the safety of their apartment. We have older adults who buy food or ask for technical service recommendations from their home. Moms who get snacks for their children or homework teachers, and couples who can enjoy a great dinner without leaving home. And it is important to mention that many families have obtained an additional income thanks to this initiative.
In this pandemic, most supermarkets, bakeries and restaurants close early and this group has allowed neighbors to meet their needs for food or medicine until 10 at night.
Since before the pandemic, this group has also had a social service function. When we have been presented with problems that affect the community, the group has encouraged the support of the neighbors to seek the necessary solutions. In addition, it has served as an informative channel for residents to know about the progress of these solutions.
Why did you decide to create the Instagram account @cerrosur_online and how does it work?
This idea is not new, I have several years thinking about how to support entrepreneurship in Venezuela. In 2019 I met the MPRND Anzoategui group on WhatsApp who have the anagramista @ mprnd.anzoategui.
The organizers of this group have taken on the task of helping several entrepreneurs in the area, through advertising exchange strategies on social networks and contests.
I studied this group and I had a long time wanting to do something similar for Cerro Sur, but adapted to our dynamics.
Initially I was supported by the neighbor Luis Verde who has several accounts on social networks with good popularity, and has a lot of charisma to cheer people up. So we started promoting Cerro Sur’s Instagram with a contest to design the logo.
Unfortunately Luis Verde could not continue with this initiative due to his multiple occupations. So I made the decision to take over this idea that was already ringing in the WhatsApp group. The result is that after three weeks we already have almost 150 followers.
The account is free for residents of Cerro Sur. Its operation so far is very simple, the entrepreneurs of the sector send me the photo / video and the text that they want to publish and it is published in @cerrosur_online. I also add the posts in the states to give more activity to the account.
I want to comment that there are several ideas for the Instagram account, which I will be presenting little by little, such as organizing contests with the support of neighbors, publishing videos in the states with advertising, information or social service topics, developing the categories of outstanding stories and provide a marketing assistance service.
How has the receptivity and participation of the neighbors been in @cerrosur_online?
So far the receptivity has been surprising. I did not think it was going to have such a good acceptance, since it is something quite new for many. There are neighbors who find it difficult to believe that it is a free service for their entrepreneurship, and I want it to be understood that the account is not made by me, but by entrepreneurs.
The participation has been very satisfactory, we already have publications about food, drinks, desserts that are a work of art, buildings, services and even events for donations.
And this December I am sure that we will have a much greater participation thanks to the celebrations of the season.
What are your expectations, as the creator of this initiative, of the Instagram account?
Expectations are high and diverse, so far I have taken the task of raising the account myself, but in the coming days I will be recruiting new associates within the Cerro Sur sector who provide more content and new proposals, to consolidate a useful catalog and attractive to the clients of Cerro Sur entrepreneurs.
The objective of this initiative is to collaborate to promote our entrepreneurs and make it a benchmark of success, so that the wonderful products and services of our neighbors can be known beyond our locality.
Thank you very much Mr. Alain for sharing the development of this very beneficial initiative.
You can visit the account of the entrepreneurs of Cerro Sur, and know everything they offer: @cerrosur_online