Last week in Peru! This week I was in the Lima office putting the finishing touches on my primary deliverables: the fine cocoa proposal for La Convencion and the industry overview for USAID. Lima actually had a last minute holiday scheduled for both Monday and Tuesday to free up traffic for a large conference, but the local head of the TechnoServe (TNS) office and I were in plugging away to finish off some projects. For the proposal in La Convencion, I went through several iterations with the staff to be sure they had various versions for different audiences. Most important was the version that would be used to describe the project to financial backers. Additionally, I wrote objectives and summary roles and responsibilities for new people who would be needed for the project.
On Thursday, I visited USAID at the US Embassy along with Victor Ganoza from TNS who oversees the cocoa projects in Peru. We presented a few slides on the state of the cocoa markets globally, Peru’s competitive positioning and evolution, and some areas of opportunity for further growth along with threats to the industry to monitor. The USAID crowd of 6-8 people were very appreciative of our efforts. There is a lot of data about cocoa markets, and having someone consolidate the key trends for a management review is highly valuable. There were even some very recent developments that caught their attention, and could influence development strategies in the region. Overall, it was a very successful outing and a great way to wrap up the 8 week adventure in Peru.
On Friday evening I had dinner with a few of the key TNS staff members I’d gotten to know, and caught a redeye flight back to LA. I was surprised by feeling sad about leaving behind great new friends, and an exciting project to see through, but I’ll certainly keep in touch and follow the development of the Peruvian cocoa markets in the future.
Hopefully my contribution of business strategy skills and value chain analysis can help increase the quality of life for many of the farmers in the region.
This week was bittersweet, as it marked the end of our stint in the Emerging Enterprise Program. It’s time to head back to our desks, enjoy the AC, and open up our imploding in-boxes. But before the fun begins, we still have our final presentations to hand in and souvenir-buying to do. I made sure to stock up on as many of our clients’ products as possible: Nativos chocolate bon bons, Orquidea chocolate bars, and various jungle beverages. These items are my precious cargo, as most of them are only available in Tarapoto!
On Tuesday, Abhishek and I accompanied some TechnoServe (TNS) staff members from the Washington, D.C. headquarters to several small pueblos in the Huallaga district. It was a great chance to squeeze in another field visit during our last week, but that trip was possibly my downfall as I contracted my 2nd intestinal parasite in Peru. The water in the maracuya juice was contaminated, and within hours, I felt stomach cramps.
Fortunately, I was able to finish my presentation slides and go through a revision with a translator. Because I made it a “one-stop shop,” any TNS client or entrepreneur can pick it up and read through it to look for financing options. I made sure to add several diagrams on how social investment funds work, and my translator was an excellent guinea pig to test the effectiveness and clarity of my presentation. To this date, none of these funds have reached Tarapoto yet, and in the past two months, I have created a bridge with three of them.
I had a phenomenal time working with TNS and their clients during this program. Initially, I was worried about the entrepreneurs warming up to me and my assistance in such a short time frame, but was completely taken aback by how welcoming they were. I’ve been whole-heartedly spoiled with chocolates, side kisses, hugs, handshake, and beaming smiles. Each time I meet TNS clients, it’s like it’s my birthday or I’m an American Idol winner. It’s going to be an adjustment to go back to London where the weather is gloomy and I’m just another passenger squished up against a window on the Tube, but I’ll always have this wonderful experience to think about when I get caught in the sporadic rain without my “brolly.” Thank you, PIMCO, for organizing this wonderful program, my managers and team for their full support, and to my readers who appreciate a good story!
This was the final week of our stay in Peru. On Tuesday, we went on a field trip to San Jose with TecnhoServe’s (TNS) communication team from Washington, D.C. We visited another cocoa farm and attended a small farmer training session. The rest of the week, I worked on my final project presentation in Spanish. Presenting in Spanish was definitely challenging but I got some help from my local Spanish teacher with editing and a practice run. The amazing experience during these two months came to an end with the final project presentation in front of TNS employees on Friday afternoon. A volunteer consultant joined us during the question answer session, which was helpful for me as I was able to explain a few more things in English as well as make some suggestions on improving work efficiency among TNS employees.
This trip has been satisfying and rewarding in many ways. Thanks to PIMCO’s commitments and The PIMCO Foundation’s efforts, I was able to experience a new culture, learn a new language and put my knowledge to work for the improvement of our communities.
This week started out at the airport en route to Quillabamba in a region called La
Convencion. TechnoServe (TNS) is evaluating the prospects for a fine cocoa project in the region; they asked me to assess the challenges & potential, and outline a proposal for development of the overlooked market. Currently, the fine cocoa beans are sold at a discount to bulk priced cocoa beans due to lack of proper processing and separation. I spent a night in Cuzco on the way, a well-known hub to reach some of Peru’s treasured ruins, including Macchu Pichu.
Quillabamba is about a 5 hour drive from Cuzco, and I arrived mid-day on Tuesday in time to get acquainted with some of the key people and information about the fine cocoa (called cacao chuncho). Over the course of a couple days we met with key municipal officials in Quillabamba and Echarati, several cocoa growers, and managers of some organizations along the cocoa value chain. It became pretty apparent that the lack of quality assurance was preventing the fine cocoa market from developing, and I proposed value chain and pricing concepts to help bring the premium beans to market at a premium price.
One of the highlights of my trip was Friday evening at a fortuitously timed cocoa festival. We were chatting with a long-time farmer in the region, an expert in cocoa genetics and growing. Once he found out that I was with an NGO looking at a cocoa project in the region, he expressed frustration that his premium cocoa beans weren’t being properly commercialized, and proceeded to describe how it could work. Most of his suggestions lined up with the plan I had already outlined, so it was very satisfying to hear this support from one of the more seasoned and ambitious farmers.
We are approaching the end of our program in Peru. This week I was busy finishing up legal steps to constitute and formalize the business in the local Peruvian market and finalizing the rest of the project. On the side, I was helping one of the consultants to small chocolate maker “Nativos” create an interactive business model to handle accounting, sales, production and inventory tracking.
On Friday, we interacted with one of the TechnoServe (TNS) clients, the owner of “Exotic” Chocolates. We got to know more about her business and how TNS helped Exotic in the overall process. On Saturday, there was another field trip. On our way, we met a cooperative owner and heard about his experience with TNS. After more than a two hour drive, we reached the village. The journey was adventurous in its own way. The van had no windows and the door would open every now and then even after being locked from inside. We were greeted with a traditional fermented fruit juice when we arrived. Although I did not like the taste, I couldn’t say no to the cordial offering. We got a chance to interview the owner as well as some of the TNS employees to learn about the latest efforts.
Lights, Camera, Action!This week a camera crew came to Tarapoto to film our Emerging Enterprise Program in action.
I put together several drafts of the 3-day shooting schedule, interview questions, and itinerary. We interviewed the founders and toured the businesses of Exotic Chocolate and Nativos Chocolate. We also shot scenes of “life in Tarapoto,” which included a fair in the main plaza and the TechnoServe office.
The most rewarding part of the filming process was being able to showcase the entrepreneurs. I bonded with Elizabeth Gomez from Nativos Chocolate after staffing her booth at the Expoalimentaria fair in Lima the previous week, and was looking forward to finally visiting her production plant. I knew her plant was small, but I didn’t know that it would be the size of a laundry room in the back of her house. The room had no windows, and had an AC unit constantly running to cool the chocolate molds. When she first opened the door, I was overcome by the smell of liquors that she mixes into the ganache interior of her bon-bons.
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have met Elizabeth during my time in Peru. How do you say thank you to someone who welcomes you to their home? How do you show your gratitude to someone who enthusiastically introduces you to their sister, mother, aunt, husband, and children in the middle of their kitchen? It’s hardly been two months in Tarapoto, and I feel like I’ve been adopted into several Peruvian families.
We’re officially diving into our final week here in Peru, and wrapping up our presentations and deliverables. I’ve made the 11th hour decision to make my presentation a 2-for-1 deal: it will be the “one-stop” shop for financing mechanisms, in addition to sharing my research over the past few weeks with the group. In its current PowerPoint format, TechnoServe can bring print-friendly copies out on their field visits for the cocoa cooperatives to read over. Instead of waiting for months until an online version is available (and hoping that the Internet works), TechnoServe clients can have something readily available to distribute.
On Monday, I visited Caja Nuestra Gente again to pitch to them the idea of having 1-2 designated credit officers that cater specifically to TechnoServe (TNS) clients. Having seen first-hand how nerve-wracking the process is, I wanted to build a bridge between a preferred bank and TNS to facilitate business on both ends. Angel (the TNS community relationship manager) and I sat down with the branch manager, and I was hoping to hear an enthusiastic, “Yes! Send your clients over for loans. Thank you for the additional business.” However, the manager didn’t look too enthused and forced a smile when we shook hands to leave. I did, however, obtain copies of several loan applications from Caja Nuestra Gente and drafted one specifically for TNS clients. The purpose of the TNS loan application sample is to better prepare clients before they set foot in a bank; it’s tailored to both farmers and entrepreneurs and includes a checklist of additional items needed.
On Tuesday, all of the offices for TNS Peru gathered in Tarapoto to celebrate their 30-year anniversary in the country. The all-day event was at a recreation center outside of the city. Teams competed in various indoor and outdoor activities. It was great to see everyone again, as well as meet new friends!
On Wednesday evening, I flew to Lima to attend the Expoalimentaria convention after setting up meetings with several investment funds and lenders. It was a rare opportunity that the Tocache-based cooperative managers were all present, and all the lenders were available to meet. The meetings were all very informative, and we were able to plan our next steps to apply for a loan.
I found the opportunity to travel to Lima and meet with potential lenders there exciting, and I felt a sense of achievement that I got the ball rolling by finding agricultural lending facilities for the cocoa cooperatives. To work closely with another TNS staff member was mutually beneficial; I was able to tailor my work around a specific client, and he was able to focus on getting the client’s loan documents in order.
This was probably the hottest week of our stay so far at 95ºF almost every day. On Tuesday, TechnoServe (TNS) celebrated its 30th anniversary in Peru. TNS employees from the Lima, Tocache, and Juanjui offices gathered in Tarapoto and enthusiastically participated in indoor as well as outdoor events despite of scorching weather. On the project side, this week my focus was on legal aspects related to construction and formalization of micro and small businesses in Peru – from name selection to license registry at a local municipality, different forms of corporations, various tax regimes, employee benefits to special permission requirements. I intend to include a stepwise summary of all these to help consultants understand basic requirements to start a business in Peru.
By the weekend we finally saw some rain. Saturday evening I attended a local event organized by school children to raise some money for an operation for one of their teachers. Sunday came to an end with a delicious dessert at Tito Jaime’s (TNS Deputy Project Director in San Martin) home. After dessert, Don gifted his new guitar to Tito’s son.
Week 6 was my last week in the Tarapoto office. I’ll be heading to a region called La Convencion in week 7, and then spending week 8 in Lima. This week I spent a lot of time with the local TechnoServe (TNS) staff going through details of the cocoa value chain, and reviewing data on local and global markets. There’s a lot of data, much of it conflicting, and both TNS and USAID should benefit from having someone pull it apart and extract the key trends. On Tuesday, we participated in the 30th anniversary of TNS’ presence in Peru. It was a full day event at the park just outside of town, and loads of fun. We were all split into teams and played some silly games, then moved on to volleyball and soccer where the competition heated up! Everyone from the Juanjui, Tocache, Lima and Tarapoto offices made the trip.
For my last night in Tarapoto, we had dinner at a local restaurant and said goodbyes. It has come and gone so quickly, a reminder that time is short and our ability to make an impact is in the present. I picked up a guitar earlier on, and decided to gift it to the son of one of the people I worked closely with in the office, Tito. It was a special moment for Tito and me as we’d developed a strong rapport, and his young son has shown interest in playing an instrument.
We’re in the second half of our eight-week stay in Tarapoto and it seems like we just arrived. Week five started with a small discussion with TechnoServe’s Country Director in Peru, Dr. Víctor Ganoza. The discussion was very helpful as I discovered a few more legal aspects needed to start a business locally. I finished student workbooks related to different components of business plan training sessions. It was great to put my finance knowledge back into action. I created templates for a balance sheet, income statement, cash flow statement and some simple problems related to breakeven analysis, NPV and IRR. I watched the Peru vs. Argentina soccer game on Tuesday evening in my red & white t-shirt during the pouring rain. On Friday, we met with Mr. Loren O. Stoddard, a USAID-Peru director, for an informal discussion and to learn more about USAID efforts in different regions. The week ended with a trip to Lamas on Sunday to observe local culture more closely.
The Director of the Alternative Development Office for USAID-Peru was conducting an audit of the ongoing activities, and the TechnoServe Country Director for Peru (Victor) was here to host and check the office’s progress. All of the PIMCO EEP volunteers met with Victor to share with him our work thus far, receiving constructive feedback as well as instructions for our next steps.
After sharing with Victor a list of suggestions for TechnoServe and its clients on reaching full sustainability in the long run, he asked me to put together my ideas in the form of “Best Practices.” I wrote out my ideas for both the cocoa entrepreneurs and cooperatives, with details ranging from how to conduct organized meetings to protocol when communicating with investors. The end product was a five-page, single-spaced example of my neurosis.
The project was inspired by a combination of events and observations both in the office and out in the field. A few weeks ago, one of the TechnoServe entrepreneurs broke her leg during a moto-taxi ride outside the office. The moto-taxi spun around too quickly, and the whole thing fell on top of her. She called her TechnoServe contact for help to the hospital. Afterwards, he helped her open up, operate, and close down her cake shop for several days. In my “Best Practices” piece, I suggested that our clients structure a contingency plan in the event the boss is unable to be at work. I emphasized the need for on-going employee training, as well as cross-training, so that everyone has the capacity to operate in different roles. My hope is that TechnoServe clients use their time with us as training wheels, rather than a crutch. I believe economic self-sufficiency begins with planning for the likelihood of challenges and unfortunate events, and is the very definition of independence.
Productive week here mostly spent compiling information and interacting with the local staff to better understand nuances of the market. TechnoServe (TNS) Peru has decided to take a closer look at an opportunity outside of Cusco. This involves a higher quality of cacao plant, which could potentially be sold at a significant premium, if harvested and fermented properly. I’ll be going there during week seven along with one of the TNS staff to help validate the opportunity and identify areas for TNS intervention. This is an exciting opportunity, and could make a real impact to a group of impoverished farmers. The San Martin project will get a bit less attention, however there’s already a lot of effort and experience in this area.
Peru hosted Venezuela on Tuesday night in a soccer match, which was critical in determining whether they’ll make it to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. We went to a large venue where the game was shown on a big screen. The entire country is focused on the World Cup qualifiers, and Peru came away with a 1-1 tie against an elite team with some of the world’s best players. Most Peruvians were happy that the team “looked good” in their effort, but Peru missed a penalty kick that would have won the game.
Now mid-way through our projects, my focus has on the training material for the entrepreneurs and small businesses. TechnoServe organizes a training session for each component of the business plan which includes strategy, marketing, competitive analysis, target market, costs, financing, organizational structure, and implementation plan. In support of these training sessions, I will create a power point presentation, teacher’s manual and a student workbook. The student workbook includes some exercises from the presentation along with other key concepts. The goal is to help the entrepreneurs and small business owners create their own business plans. Again, all documents have to be clear, concise and in Spanish. I don’t think I have ever used Google translate as many times as I have done on this assignment. Well, it’s one way to improve your Spanish!
It was great to catch the Peru vs. Venezuela World Cup qualifier soccer game with the local crowd on Friday evening. Nothing is better than watching the crowd react when the home team ends up winning after lagging by one goal in the first half.
Living in the jungle is a new experience for me. I’ve lived in Los Angeles where driving on Wilshire is a battlefield, and I currently live in London where double-decker buses and black cabs threaten human existence. Here, the rains pour down with vengeance, and moto-taxis tear through the bumpy streets.
At this point of the volunteer project, we have officially reached our halfway mark. This week, I went to an information session and loan application meeting for an organization called Root Capital. They are a non-profit social investment fund based out of Cambridge, MA with an office in Lima. One of the clients I am working with on my project is a Tocache-based cocoa association that needs working capital funding. Ibsen, the association founder, came well-prepared with financial statements and cocoa production projections. I noticed that our designated loan officer spoke English with an American accent, and introduced myself as a PIMCO EEP volunteer consultant. His name was Renzo, and he moved to Lima from the Cambridge headquarters a month ago. We had a few hours before he needed to catch his flight, and I was able to meet with him to ask some questions about successful loan applications. Through Renzo, I learned that Root Capital’s investors prefer receivables as collateral, and that fixed assets are not preferred. A copy of the sales agreement with the buyer will be sufficient. Makes sense. I had a hard time imagining short-sales in a jungle town! Anyone reading this want to buy a house with dirt floors and no electricity or plumbing?
This week I focused on putting together the presentation, having now absorbed considerable content from materials and in-field visits. The export composition evolves fairly quickly due to changes in demand for various types of cocoa and cocoa derivatives, changes in supply levels of various products from different countries, changes in production capacity, relative price level changes between types of exports and other factors. Within Peru, the value chain can be re-configured relatively quickly also. Increasing yields per hectare at a farm can increase production to levels, which may enable consolidation of segments of the value chain.
On Wednesday, I participated in a meeting with a group of associations and municipal representatives in a town called Saposoa. The goal of the meeting was to agree for this set of associations to combine resources for an upcoming harvest, and take steps forward along the value chain as described above. The meeting was very detailed, with multiple disparate views on whether this was a good idea, and whether it could be implemented. While the top-level objective seemed very clear, there was strong resistance and lengthy debate. Seeing this first hand helped me better understand why “ivory towers” concepts that may make perfect sense can be very difficult to implement in practice. The opposing views seemed to lack logic, but represented many voices who may have seen too many failed change attempts to be enthusiastic about new ideas.
In my free time, I’ve been able to go to the gym regularly, and picked up a cheap guitar from the music store around the corner to tinker with. Friday night was a big night here… Peru hosted Venezuela in a critical qualifying match for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The whole country was excited, and Peru was in a desperate situation from some recent setbacks. Trailing 1-0 at halftime, but dominating the game in every other way, Peru finally broke through with a goal early in the second half and added another for the 2-1 win to stay alive for a spot in Brazil!
I went to Tocache this week with several members of the TechnoServe team. The ride out was a great opportunity for me to practice speaking Spanish, to get to know the team better and learn more about the current cacao projects underway, including the history and long-term goals. The cacao producers in this area are more advanced than the rest of Peru because they’ve implemented simple pruning and fertilization techniques which can double or triple yields – the techniques being taught in other regions.
TechnoServe is working with some local associations to coordinate their deliveries, and thereby take advantage of economies of scale to shorten the supply chain and increase revenue share to local producers. As productivity increases at the farm level, critical mass in volumes can be achieved with fewer nodes of aggregation along the supply chain. This is one of the key, internal developments in the Peruvian cacao business where TechnoServe intervenes. Validation of the assumptions and efficacy of this evolution is a part of my research.
On Saturday there was a fair in the town square back in Tarapoto, organized by TechnoServe and featured local chocolate entrepreneurs. It was very successful in that the entrepreneurs got great exposure for their businesses, and those who attended got their fill of chocolate!
After three weeks in Tarapoto, I am finalizing the first draft of my consultancy package with an emphasis on the importance of marketing, packaging, advertisement, location and points of sale merchandising. The trade fair organized by TechnoServe/USAID is a great way for entrepreneurs and other small businesses to advertise their companies and products.
The preparation for the fair started Saturday morning at Plaza Mayor setting up tents, tables and chairs for 10 small businesses that participated in this event – all with banners, posters and chocolates, pastries, cakes, coffee, dry fruits/nuts products and some cocoa based drinks/liquors. I stopped at every stall and looked at their products, and tasted and bought some chocolate.
Visiting a trade fair can tell you a lot more about the importance of advertising, marketing and customer service. Even when products were very similar in quality and taste, marketing and customer service definitely make the difference in sales figures. I am helping these entrepreneurs analyze sales and establish growth trends.
This week, I’m creating a “Loan Application Checklist” for cocoa cooperatives and entrepreneurs in the San Martin region of Peru. I met with seven banks one afternoon, getting details on interest rates and terms to update a well-researched loan database compiled by last year’s volunteer, Yun Wei. Visiting each bank, it became apparent that the people who need the loans most are the people who are less able to qualify for them. All of the banks require at least 6-months of operation, with more favorable rates for those who have two to three years in the business. These entrepreneurs also need to show sales receipts, utility bills, store lease agreements, and business plans. This is where TechnoServe and the Emerging Enterprise Program volunteers come in. We help budding entrepreneurs refine their business plans, put together cash flow statements and sales projections, and facilitate their funding needs.
Saturday, TechnoServe put on a chocolate fair for their entrepreneurs in the small town Tarapoto. These entrepreneurs are the same ones who baked me a massive Hello Kitty birthday cake earlier in the week, and the same ones who spoil me with lovely bon-bons in the afternoons.
This week marked an “Aha!” moment in my scope of work—and a run-in with protesters in the province of Bellavista. When Don, Abhishek and I met with TechnoServe’s Peru country director last week, we were cautioned that the scope of our work will change as we become more immersed in our projects.
I came to a mutual conclusion with the TechnoServe Tarapoto staff that an “online, one-stop center of financing mechanisms” would not be feasible or practicable at this point. Of course it was a disappointment to me, but the reasons became more apparent as I met the cooperatives and entrepreneurs that TechnoServe works with, as most don’t have computers or Internet access or manpower.
On Thursday, I was excited about meeting the TechnoServe staff at 4:30 am for a 7-hour journey south to a city called Tocache. We planned a field visit to meet with several cooperatives, and to touch base with the TechnoServe staff stationed there. After running into traffic, our driver signaled to the rest of us to stay in the car while he figured out what was going on. “It’s a protest by the residents of Bellavista,” he explained. “They blocked the roads so that no cars can pass.” Hardly 10 minutes later we were stopped in a similar manner, this time with no police in sight to witness protestors littering large rocks and setting fire to tree saplings in the middle of the road. We later learned that protesting in rural regions such as Bellavista are common to get Peruvian government to pay attention to the needs of its people.
This week was spent mostly in the office researching the cacao industry, mostly in Spanish, and learning from the local TechnoServe specialists about their approaches to development. TechnoServe is a decentralized organization with a lot of flexibility to implement a range of visions on the ground. Everyone is moving in the same direction; economic development, and the opportunities to add value are, in many cases, readily apparent and actionable. As such, the local offices have leeway, within carefully observed overall frameworks, to incrementally advance broader objectives.
The weekend was the first one that we weren’t booked with either travel or work out in the field. We were able to explore the local markets, and catch up on necessities like laundry and sleep. The town is very quiet on the weekends as a lot of people relax at the river, or generally stay at home outside the village.
With no factory or field visit on my calendar, I had more time to understand project requirements. Working on the business side of my overall project, I got to know more about the problems entrepreneurs and small businesses face at every single step. TechnoServe, along with USAID, is working to help these entrepreneurs and small businesses grow. TechnoServe organizes various training sessions to explain the different aspects of business such as Strategy, Costs, Marketing, Financial Planning, Competition, and Sales, etc. TechnoServe also conducts a business plan competition for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Business plan competition winners then receive consulting services from TechnoServe staff or Volunteer Consultants (VolCons).
I am defining key aspects of the consulting plan like mission, vision, market objective, and implementation plan. This includes research to better understand local legal requirements and how those requirements may affect small businesses.
This trip has been very exciting right from the start. One day stay in Lima was great. Got to know a little more about Peruvian culture and had some great Peruvian food. We have settled down in Tarapoto and I love everything here except the hot weather, which actually isn't too bad. Office hours are from 8 AM to 1 PM and then 3 PM to 6 PM. Spending after hours each day to brush up on my Spanish, but still have a long way to go. We are also making progress on the projects. I am trying to drill my project down to determine what the deliverables are and to make sure I’m clear on all assignments. We made a field visit to Juanjui on Friday and it was very exciting. I’ll tell you more about our progress in the next post.
My project will continue the work of a 2011 PIMCO Emerging Enterprise Program volunteer; I will specifically work on identifying funding sources that the cocoa co-operatives and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can utilize. What attracted me to this program was the opportunity to work with entrepreneurs in the developing world to build competitive farms, businesses, and economies. On Friday, we headed two hours south of Tarapoto into a city called Juanjui to conduct fieldwork. Saturday we went to a small “pueblo” (village) called Balsayacu where TechnoServe staff conducted a best practices training session for a small group of cocoa farmers. The rest of the afternoon was spent out on a cocoa field where all the farmers drew circles around the trees with their feet before sprinkling fistfuls of fertilizer. Early Sunday morning, we participated in a cooperative meeting to discuss the current cocoa market and opportunities in cocoa tourism. So ends our first week! With one field study down, and another one in Tocache to go, we’re gaining momentum on our individual projects.
We’ve completed our first week in Tarapoto, and it’s been very busy! We’re getting up to speed on the local projects and diving further into understanding the local and global cocoa industries. On Wednesday, there was a planning offsite at a nearby hotel. Participants from several regional offices participated, as did TechnoServe’s COO from Washington, D.C., giving us more insight to the local objectives as well as the view of Peru from HQ. Friday morning we did a factory tour of a local chocolate manufacturer, Orqueida. Over the weekend, we attended several training sessions (Saturday with farmers on farming techniques and Sunday with a cooperative on the benefits and strategies of community organization). My project is focused on a ‘state of the industry’ analysis for Peruvian cocoa, and may evolve into a recommendation around the commercialization of a ‘fine cacao’ product. In the evenings, I’ve continued taking Spanish classes with a local instructor, and also joined some guys for pick-up soccer games. The ceviche is terrific, and the variety and freshness of the local fruit is amazing – it’s hard to beat a fresh coconut on a hot day!
Chosen after a competitive global application process, these PIMCO professionals are volunteering with rural cocoa farmers in San Martin, Peru. From field visits to cost analysis, each PIMCO volunteer works with local farmers, helping create small businesses that are sustainable and transformative in their communities.
Position: Senior Portfolio Associate
Newport Beach, California
Assignment: Conducting a deeper analysis of the viability of Peruvian fine cocoa as an economic opportunity.
“I’ll be a part of a team that’s taking a passionate but pragmatic approach to ending rural Peruvian poverty. This is going to be extremely satisfying and rewarding.”
Position: Account Management Associate
Assignment: Developing a one-stop educational resource of financing mechanisms including instructions, links, and examples.
“To help our farmers build successful, sustainable businesses, we first have to understand their daily lives. It’s my personal goal to be a citizen of the world—to develop an appreciation for people, communities, and ways of life around the globe.”
Position: SVP, Head of ETF Product Management
Newport Beach, California
Assignment: Strategic visioning and developing financial management training tools for the project’s participants.
“I’m excited to help sustain the environment and culture of such a beautiful country. To me, this is a rare and thrilling challenge. The opportunity of a lifetime.”
The PIMCO Foundation|
840 Newport Center Drive|
Newport Beach, CA 92660|
No part of this material may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission. Pacific Investment Management Company LLC, 840 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660, 800-387-4626. ©2013, PIMCO.
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