Monday, February 16, 2015

Spring 2015 Week 3

This week we made a lot of visits to current businesses. Most seem to be doing well but some have fallen behind and we will continue to try and help them with their loan payments.

We started teaching the classes within Danper in the main plant. The students seem to have quite a bit of interest but we will see. It has been extremely humid this week and has made the classroom a little uncomfortable but that's to be expected in Peru. We also started teaching the classes in Juan Cakito. The students are also very interested and many have already spoken about their business ideas. The ideas include a guinea pig farm and a corn mill.

We continue to gain momentum with the employment center classes as well. Many of the people already have experience within their industries and are eager to learn how they can improve. A word of advice for future interns is to organize the employment center classes well, because sometimes we are locked out of the main chapel and have to go to the institute behind.

This weekend we went to Huanchaco with some members of the church who have family members within the program. The sun was blazing hot so it's a good idea to wear sun screen. Often times the beach is good from about 11 am to 2 pm and then clouds and potential storms tend to roll in.

Spring 2015 Week 2

Last week, we went with Elena and Milagros to visit several businesses. We first met with Gloria who has a restaurant businesses that provides food to DanPer workers in the fields. She spoke to us about some of the issues she has been having. The main theme in each issue seemed to be the lack of clear communication in how many lunches she has to prepare as well as accessing certain areas of the field. Later in the week we met with Bertha who has an internet cafe in her home whom expressed her gratitude for the program and how it has helped her.

At Gloria's restaurant with Milagros 

We also visited Rossi, who has a beauty salon, she told us that her and her daughter Ana Cristina have been having trouble trying to keep their business open at times due to their busy schedules. Rossi is currently working a DanPer, going to school, and working at the beauty salon while Ana Cristina works at the beauty salon and goes to school. There are times when customers come looking for a haircut and the business is closed. At the moment they can't hire a hairstylist because the income doesn't lend itself.

This weekend we got to call ourselves tourists as we went on a full day tour to Chan Chan, Las Huacas del Sol y La Luna and Huanchaco. It was fascinating to learn about the Moche and Chimรบ and their beliefs. On our tour we also made new friends from Switzerland, Peru, and Argentina.

Museo Huacas de Moche 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Spring 2015 Week 1


This week involved getting accustomed to the Peruvian culture and food. First we started going to DanPer every day to inform the workers about the classes and the entire program. We used a huge megaphone and a large poster that showed requirements that the applicants need to have to be eligible. Not only did we go to DanPer but we went to the Fundos (fields) to get workers to register for the classes. This is the first time that these classes are being offered to the Fundo workers.

The Fundo workers were much more shy about asking questions and registering. Luckily, Kurt was able to break the ice with a joke. The workers at DanPer were the complete opposite since they have known past interns. Many people struggle to pay attention during the presentation because they are focused on enjoying their lunch hour.

We met with Juan Leyva who is the coordinator for the Employment Center at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We expect a good turnout and hopefully some good business ideas from this group. Lance and Jake started the program at the Employment Center a year ago and we plan on continuing the work.

The weather here is great! It's sunny and hot, which means that we HAD to go to the beach at Huanchaco. At the beach we got to watch some awesome surfing and enjoy the sun. We enjoyed the sun so much that the guys got really sunburned. Omaira also got sunburnt, but it doesn't show as much on her for obvious reasons. We're all jealous. Luckily they've recovering well and we are ready to head back another weekend.


Monday, November 3, 2014


Last week, DanPer was offered a free advertising opportunity through the Peruvian government entity, PromPeru. PromPeru devotes their time, energy and money making Peru look alluring to would-be travelers and international businesses. In essence, they are just a really good PR team; their logo is on pens, jackets, stickers, banners, fliers, anything you can imagine.
PromPeru is currently filming a documentary -- of sorts -- about the industry of Peru. They are including DanPer, because they are among the largest agriculture businesses in the country. I was invited to watch the filming of the segment dedicated to DanPer. The filmmakers shot all over the beautiful fields of asparagus, artichoke and pepper.

I have seriously never seen more beautiful fields than those of DanPer. The road is lined with a row of wildflowers with a row of sunflowers. On one side there is a small, sandy mountain and on the other is the ocean. It is incredible to see that these people can have a successful agriculture business right out of the sand.
But the best part of filming the PromPeru was when the filmmakers shot the segment for "Sembrando Futuro." They did a testimonial interview with our very own Louisa (right.) Luisa started her own bakery business back in 2010 and has now completely payed off her loan. She still works out on the fields during the day and then during the night she helps out at the bakery.

On another note, we have had a struggled getting Gloria to full speed with her business. She has just started her restaurant about a month ago, which provides lunches to DanPer's workers. There have been complaints about the quality and quantity of the food, miscommunications with supervisors, lack of earnings, and difficulties with local competition. Seriously, the competition has been losing money to drive Gloria out of business. Overall, I am sure it has been a pretty stressful month for Gloria and her family. Though, we are hopeful that these issues have been resolved and Gloria will begin to have more success. 

Felipe has finally gotten his internet connected! He unfortunately experienced problems with the internet company for the last two months. He is looking to officially open his doors tomorrow to business. Success! 

Looking for more PromPeru? Check out their YouTube page.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Adventures in Huancaquito Alto

This week proved to be a busy one, full of visits and a couple of issues to work out. Gloria, who just started a restaurant providing food for field workers of DanPer out of her house in Huancaquito Alto, has been having some trouble with success lately. Last week, they were informed that the workers would no longer be asking for lunches made from them. (It appears that maybe the food wasn't very good one day) This is the only source of income for the restaurant, so we were all very concerned when we heard this.

To help solve the problem, Brad and Matt went to Huancaquito Alto on tuesday to help Edy (an associate of Gloria) try to get the people to their menu. Edy spoke directly with the workers, essentially asking them for a second chance, but more importantly explaining what they would offer that would make their food better than the other option. For example, they are now providing metal utensils instead of plastic. In a moment like this, it was hard for us not to speak up, wanting to vouch for the people we support. But ultimately they are responsible for their own success, and Edy was doing a great job. Luckily things went pretty well. After speaking with several groups and a lot of people, they agreed to order lunch from Gloria's restaurant. We left pretty happy, feeling like things were going to be ok. 

Two days later we did a follow up visit and found out that things didn't go as well as expected. While they still sold a number of lunches, it was only about half of what we expected. Gloria lost money on the day because she prepared more than what was actually asked for. We're still confused as to how this all happened, but it boils down to the fact that there isn't a clear communication between supervisors and Gloria. All of this reinforces the fact that good communication and management are essential to running a successful business. Every country/people is different in how they do things, and that's ok. But a major common denominator to success is clear communication. Observing all of this from an outside perspective provides a great opportunity for each of us interns to learn so that we don't make the same mistakes in the future. Despite everything, we are hopeful for Gloria and their restaurant and are confident that things will work out.

Working on finances with Gloria

While in Huancaquito Alto on our second visit, we had the opportunity to teach english at a local school. Each of us taught two to four classes, ranging in ages 7 to 16. The kids were full of energy and excited to have us there. This will probably become a weekly thing, so we hope to be able to teach better each week. 

Teaching English

Throughout the week we visited a number of different businesses that started through the program. Morgan conducted several awesome interviews of loan recipients from past years. These interviews were neat because we got to hear from several people how their lives have changed through the program. They are all so grateful for having received the opportunity to start their own business through us. Great job Morgan!

This family has successfully run their taxi business. They have payed off their loan and recently moved into a new home. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

September 29th to October 4th

Another week has passed and all is well in Peru! We are having a great time here enjoying a mix of a new work experience and environment as well as a new culture.

As part of DanPer's social responsibility mission, Elena (our boss) has been extremely busy this week helping to coordinate a repair project in a local town where the water canal/bridge broke. We weren't able to attend any of the meetings, but it's interesting to hear about the whole process through Elena. There are several companies (some of them well known, which won't be mentioned) that have some factories on the other side of this bridge where the repair needs to be done. Because of each companies' schedule, including night shifts and frequent truck loading and unloading, it's been difficult to find a time that each will agree to stop traffic in and out of the factories to repair the bridge. Considering how this issue is affecting a local community, it was quite a surprise to learn that most of these companies didn't appear to make a speedier effort to cooperate. Of course we recognize that logistics are difficult, and no one wants to loose money. It's nice to know though that we are partnered with such a great company, DanPer, that looks out for the community and tries to make a positive impact in their lives. After a great deal of work, each company came to an agreement and all will be fixed on sunday night.

Our visits to businesses this week were short but sweet. All is going well with them. With Erik and Ruth, for example, we got to see some of their finished products right before they went out on the market for sale. We are quite impressed with their work! They are very skilled at what they do. Here are some samples:

A shirt Ruth sowed for a customer

A sample of Erik's shoes: These one's look like Mini Mouse's shoes

Another style

The highlight of the week was attending Rossi's grand opening of her beauty salon. We all had a good time there, and enjoyed seeing a look of excitement in Rossi and her now co-workers. As with any project, this was a long awaited day. Opening the business was delayed about a month due to a large inventory purchase and minor construction needs to the building. So as you can imagine, it was a great moment to finally have things up and running.

Attending Rossi's grand opening was a great experience for us, because we got to see a major part of what this program is all about. For a year now, Rossi has been working hard to make this dream come true. Even though we're only here for a third of that process, it's gratifying to see how the program really does make a difference in the lives of those that participate. In Rossi's case we came for the tail end of her business preparation, so now we get to enjoy the transition to an operating business. We look forward to working with her as she does everything to make her business a success!

Christina and Rossi

The local Mayor came to show his support

One of the best parts about being an intern in the fall is that, after a year of preparation, we don't just get to see the businesses start (from the last cycle), but we also get to start a new cycle of students. We're excited to start the classes with a new set of students/program members in two weeks. It's extremely important that they get off to the right start so that they have plenty of time to explore business ideas, research, and prepare. We want all of our participants to have success like those we've talked about in this post!

Last weekend Matt and Molly were fortunate enough to see the annual spring parade. The best part was the unique costumes and dancing.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The city of the eternal Spring

What do you picture when you hear the slogan, "Trujillo, the city of the eternal Spring?" Do you picture children splashing in rain puddles? Or flowers finally stretching their petals after a long, cold Winter? Or do you picture laying out on a patch of grass as the sun finally melts away the last bit of cold in your toes?

All of those images of Trujillo wrong; it has been freezing here.

We have discovered "the city of the eternal Spring" is just an advertising ploy made by Trujillo's PR team during a brainstorming session of ways to convince tourists to visit. Word to the wise, if you do decide to come and visit, don't be fooled by the slogan and bring a coat.

We also said goodbye to Cesar this week, he finished his job with DanPer. It was great working with Cesar, as he was a major help to us during these first couple of weeks. We will miss him and wish him the best.

On another note, it is compelling to observe the city of Trujillo from a business perspective. Being here has given us the chance to see firsthand the many complications that come up when starting a business. In our day to day lives we witness so many businesses each tackling their own issues. What a learning experience.

Felipe -- Internet cafe: Believe it or not, we had a fun excuse to play video games this week. We went to Felipe's to help set up the Playstations and to teach him and Raquel how they worked.... and to shamelessly waste some time on a glowing screen. The neighborhood kids watched us set up with the excitement that usually only comes during Christmas time.  Clearly kids will be prospective customers for Felipe. It is exciting that he and Raquel will be able to get going on their internet business next week if all goes well.

Gloria -- Restaurant: We have some big news -- drum roll please -- Gloria started her business this week! However as it often happens with business owners during their first week, she ran into some roadblocks. She is providing food to DanPer workers at a nearby farm. Unfortunately there was a miscommunication one day and she ended up making too many meals. She seems worried, but Elena says bumps this early on in the road are to be expected and she is optimistic that everything will smooth out. 

We have made some visits to some schools recently. The first visit was in a small farming town with no paved roads and burros for transportation. Elena had to use the phone at a school, so we followed her inside the gates to find school kids on their lunch break. It was your typical school scene, until one little boy noticed us. He walked up to us staring with his mouth agape -- he was fascinated by the way we looked. Before we knew it, we were surrounded by school kids staring at us, too shy to interact. Luckily Brad broke the uncomfortable moment by giving everyone high fives. We entered that school that day as normal people and we left feeling like rock stars.

More recently, we made some visits to three different schools with Elena and representative for Ensena Pera, Teach Peru. She was telling us that Peru is ranked as the worst country in South America when it comes to education. So, DanPer is looking to start a partnership with the organization to help improve education in the communities where they farm. Each school had it's unique issues: not enough classroom space, not enough teachers and overall, not enough learning opportunities. Despite the schools' difficulties, one has agreed to let us come in and help teach English to the kids once a week.