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.

Friday, September 19, 2014

September 5-17

     We've made it to Trujillo, we are all happy and having a great time! If it wasn't for Elena and Cesar, we probably would have been hit by a taxi by now. They are incredibly patient with us all while we figure out how to survive in Trujillo.

     We arrived in Lima a week and half ago on Thursday, stayed the night and then took a long bus ride to Trujillo. We had to learn really quickly to watch out for the taxis and their driving; they are out to kill! Since arriving we've had the chance to learn the ropes with the finances and have a chance to visit many of the loan recipients. 

     It's impressive to see those who have had successful businesses. Bertha, for example, has been able to greatly improve the quality of life for her and her family through her internet cafe. Before starting the business she didn't have much of a roof on their home. Now, because of the money she has earned from the cafe she has been able to get a new roof and improve her home quite a bit. She is well on her way to pay off her loan. 

Carmen, who makes clothing, has also been doing very well. She seemed excited about the contracts that she has for several schools throughout the area. It is great to see that her hard work is really paying off. 

Because there is a lot to harvest right now, we won't be beginning classes with those that are associated with Danper until sometime next month. That gives us a great chance to study and really get to know the material that we will be teaching. Also we will have an opportunity to practice it so we can run a high-quality class and make sure the future students can become prepared to run a successful business.We also have spent a bit of our time crunching numbers on Excel and making sure all the records are correct. 

We have had a lot of great chances to get to know many cool things found here in Trujillo! We did a tour last weekend of some of the most famous ruins here. Chan-Chan and Huaca de la Luna were both awesome. 

Morgan and I (Brad) also discovered that one of our new friends, Patty, is a painter and has an exhibit of her artwork. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

July 9 - July 27 (Weeks 10 and 11)

We are at the tail end of our internship. As a matter of fact Kory and Annie are already home! I just recently returned to Trujillo from traveling Peru. It was great. Peru is an amazing place; there seems to be a never ending list of cool things to see here. Even though Peru isn’t huge there is a lot of history here and every place is so distinct! Whether you have thought about traveling to Peru or not… should, they seem to have something for everyone; Big City, Jungle, Mountains, Ruins, Catacombs, Floating houses... They got it all! (and if you want advise or tips hit me up!) Once again the photos in this post don't coincide with the vast majority of this post. If it helps, think of them as an addition to the "Travel Peru" plug!

OK, now that I got my Peru plug in here let me move on to business.  I haven’t been here for a week and a half but I will do my best to give the rundown. 

In the past couple week’s several major things have happened for Danper, as a company.  Bad news first. A sky lantern from a nearby party started a fire at the plant that consumed two storehouses. Luckily these storehouses contained nothing too important. One stored packaging materials and the other stored old documents that are no longer of much use (other than say audits). That being said, the week before Elena has been traveling to all Danper’s local production fields participating in a large audit. The audit went well and now we are glad to have her back. As for the exciting news; for the past year and a half Danper has been in the process of securing a 38.5 Million Dollar loan from El Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo. This week the loan was granted. This loan will help Danper restructure their debt from short-term to medium-term. It’s a big win for the company.Danper Recibe Prestamo de $38.5 Millones

Needless to say Danper has been dealing with a lot the last little while and it has taken a while to get the final approval on the projects.  The past Week we met with most of participants to give them the news. With two of them (Restaurant Gloria, and Internet Filipe) we have already started the legal work, which means going to the Notary and dealing with SUNAT (like the IRS, but for Peru).  With all government entities, this is not always pleasurable, and can be quite time consuming. We are still trying to get in touch with Eric and Rossi. Rossi has been busy with work, and all Erick’s known phone numbers are no longer in service, but we are working on it.

This coming week the Employments center student will be informed if their plans were approved or not. Patience is going to be important for them.  There is still a lot of questions but the Brother Leyva is planning on finding a full time employee within the next couple months. Hopefully the person they hire will have the experience to make things happen quickly, we want these participants to keep their excitement for their projects.

This Coming Week is Fiestas Patrias; Parties to commemorate the independence of Peru. It’s a BIG DEAL. Most people get Monday and Tuesday off, including us, so I am looking forward to experiencing my First Fiestas Patrias!

Till Next Week,


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

June 30- July 7

It just hasn’t been the same since the Go-Global students left. As mentioned in the previous blog post we had a total of 8 projects unofficially approved and have been waiting on the official document to get the legal work started.  The work, which hasn’t been nearly as much, has also been much less glamourous the last little while. When there is work concerning the future projects, it’s usually creating excel templates and/or importing them into folders and laying the OneDrive infrastructure for the new Danper projects.
This past Friday we received the official approval of projects from Wasatch. Tomorrow Elena will meet with the engineers and directors of Danper for the final review and adjustment of terms. We will be giving the participants the good, or bad, news later this week after the final sign-off.  It has surly been a long couple of weeks for them.
We are still having some difficulty as far as payment is concerned on a couple of loans. With both the Carpentaria and the small dairy farm, we may resort to liquidation. The Carpenteria seems to be a perpetual loan nightmare that spans across not just months, but years.  It has great potential however, it has not been managed well; neither the loan, nor the business.  The dairy farm also has potential, but they consistently put their obligation to us on the back burner. They are focused on growing the business, but they don’t understand how to separate their personal finances from the business finances, and completely ignore the financial ramifications of their decisions. With the current situation, they just seem to be overextending, despite our weekly meetings.
There is still quite a bit of mystery surrounding how the Employment Center/ Self Sufficiency Group will receive funding and how it will be managed. At this point no one seems to know what to do. We were able to have a couple meeting between Wasatch and Juan Leyva, but there is still a lot to be done.  We feel in order to move forward we just need to buckle down, and start spending some serious time hashing out the details and getting the ball rolling.  Hopefully this will give us an opportunity to use some of the entrepreneurial skills we have been teaching the students.
On a more light-hearted and less work-related note, Vanessa (Danpers new Social Responsibility intern from Switzerland) Decided to go Check out some of the sites around Trujillo. For anyone coming in the future, Huaca de la Luna and Show Del Caballo Peruano de Paso, are pretty cool. We also learned that we have access to the roof of our apartment and I took a little time to capture some fun night shots with a super wide-angle lens. Because it would be rather boring to look at pictures of us doing excel sheets, the photos this week don't have much to do with work. Hopefully anyone reading can find it in their heart to forgive me.

Monday, June 23, 2014

June 3 - June 23 (Weeks of Go-Global)

We had a great past 2 weeks putting the final touches on the business plans, helping the Go Global students analyze the plans, and doing some serious due diligence, not to mention we had a little fun mixed in there too.

 Above a Go Global group is doing an evaluation on the location of a possible internet cafe, Jake (far right) whipped out his Yo-yo and the little kids instantly became his best friends. Here on the right we see how the Go Global students spent most of there evenings, trying to get everything in order for their presentations. And below we see the final product, after all their due diligence (and tons of help from Elena and Cesar) they were able to give their recommendations to Blake and Tim.

Out of the 13 projects that were presented, 8 were approved which is one of the highest number of approved projects in SEED's history. We spent most of our time with the Go Global Students helping them understand the business plans and going on visits with them so they could make educated recommendations. Blake and Tim commented on how they really enjoyed how well the presentations flowed. We feel this can be attributed to having a general format for the business plans which makes everything more standardized and understandable.
 Our week with the Go Global Students was fun, and it was good to see it all come together in the presentations where we just got to sit back and observe. Now we're are getting everything set up so these new approved loans can get up and running. Finally it really has been a blessing to have the new addition of Trevor and Vanessa in the office, they make waking up to go to work everyday so much fun. These last 2 pictures are of the Go Global Students on there first day and then on their last day. Well, we're back to work, see you next week.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Week 3, May 26-June 1

We are getting down to the wire for the current cycle. The travel abroad group is set to arrive the 11th of June and we are pushing to get all the business plans finished. This past week we were able to finalize the finances for the Danper participants. Many of them are still missing parts of their business plan.  We will meet with most of them one last time to collect these final portions, make some polishing touches on the plans, and finalizing the English translations. As for the Employment Center group, we are still trying to finish up finances. Luckily, almost everyone from the EC group had at least a rough draft for their entire plan. Kory and I will be spending a considerable amount of time this coming week translating and formatting that information.

It’s fun to get a feel for how these projects run and what a solid financial analysis is like.  Kory and I make a pretty good team.  After doing a few of them for the EC group by ourselves, it feels like we are catching on, even though we haven’t seen as many projects as Elena or Cesar.  It feels good to be able to look over a plan and automatically know something amiss, even if it’s something small.  We can look over a plan or finances and say “that’s too high” or “that’s too low”, “we better go into some more details on that.”  We may not be professionals quite yet, but it’s a valuable learning experience!

Not only have we been busy with preparing business plans, but we’ve also been working with a couple of delinquent loans.    It is difficult when you know someone is trying to pull the wool over your eyes, unfortunately it’s still something that we have had to deal with at times. Equally as frustrating is knowing that these businesses are profitable; it's not that these businesses can't pay, its that they don't want to.  What some of our debtors fail to realize is that we have a secret weapon: Elena.  Since we’ve arrived in Trujillo Kory and I have defiantly seen, and appreciated, how much value Elena adds to Danper’s Social Responsibility operations.  Her People skills and patience are even more obvious an asset when we deal in these turbulent, delicate situations.  We rely on her not only for these stressful issues but for everyday items as well. Any future interns or study abroad students reading this would be wise to remember that.

Tomorrow is Monday, I can’t believe we have already been here 3 weeks.  It’s going by way too quick! Let’s see what week 4 has in store for us; hopefully some good business plans and some awesome papas rellenas!