OLPCorps University of Illinois and EWOB, Kenya
- 1 Entrepreneurs without Borders- Illinois Chapter
- 2 Recent Developments
- 3 Project Proposals Introduction
- 4 Project Proposals
- 5 Partnering Organizations
- 6 Letters of Support
- 7 Budget
- 8 Past EWOB Projects
Entrepreneurs without Borders- Illinois Chapter
Entrepreneurs Without Borders™ (EWOB) is an student-lead organization based out of the University of Illinois that allows for entrepreneurial-minded collegiate students to design and implement sustainable, project based solutions to issues faced by people in developing and subsistence economies around the world. EWOB was founded by students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has grown to include a more impactful purpose and several development projects in Croatia and Peru, and is currently developing projects in Liberia and India, all within a year of its establishment. EWOB is headquartered within the College of Business at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and is expanding chapters at universities nationally and internationally.
|Fraser Kinnear||Accountancy and Finance||'09||Yesemail@example.com||Sustainable development, teaching experience as a Teacher's Assistant at the University of Illinois|
|Eric Pierce||Sociology and Computer Science||'10||Yesfirstname.lastname@example.org||Tech experience, able to set up servers and repair laptops|
|Birju Kadakia||General Engineering and Finance||'10||Noemail@example.com||Engineering, organizing future trips and managing fundraising|
Fraser Kinnear and Eric Pierce will have valid passports, visas, full immunizations, are available for 10 weeks in Kenya from June through August 2009, and are available for the 10 day training in Rwanda. Eric Pierce and/or Birju Kadakia will attend the MIT/OLPC workship in October.
750 Word Project Proposal
Entrepreneurs Without Borders (EWOB) is a student run organization founded at the University of Illinois dedicated to providing entrepreneurial-minded collegiate students the opportunity to design and implement sustainable, project based solutions to issues faced by people in developing and subsistence economies around the world. EWOB has formed a connection with community of Tulia, Kenya, where we hope to begin a One Laptop per Child initiative. Caring for Kenya, an organization focused on the development of towns in rural Kenya, has pledged their support to us, both in planning our trip and in time spent on the ground. Additionally, we have earned the enthusiastic support of the heads of the schools in Tulia, and many other community leaders. Everyone we spoke to displayed great excitement at the prospect of enabling their young children to have access to laptops and the wealth of knowledge that accompanies them.
After speaking with Carl Burkyble and Erastus Kavuti, directors of Caring for Kenya, EWOB has been connected with Kavonge Primary School, an ideal school to introduce the laptop and education program. There, the 6-12 year old student body can be saturated with the laptops. In the course of the summer, we are confident that the OLPC's XO Laptop will become a priceless learning tool for young students at Kavonge.
Our team will be responsible for establishing the technological infrastructure needed to allow the laptops to function the way they were designed. Traveling to Kenya are two very computer savvy students, one of whom has a minor in Computer Science. Additionally the team will be supported by EWOB students from the University of Illinois, many of whom are engineering students with access to some of the nation’s best computing resources. Combined, we are confident in EWOB’s ability to successfully implement the technological backbone for the XO Laptops in Tulia.
The team will also help the Kenyan students understand how to use the laptop as an educational and social tool to enrich their lives. We will focus on building a core understanding of computing and the internet, and how their education through this technology can impact Kenya’s future development. Erastus Kavuti, who is also on the board of directors for the Kavonge Primary School, is someone we will be in touch with over the next few months to learn more about the curriculum at this school before we arrive in Kenya. Before the team leaves for Kenya, over 25 EWOB members will research the most efficient ways to integrate the XO Laptops into their every day curriculum. This will result in an extremely effective plan to introduce the technology to students and teachers in Tulia.
Beyond simply introducing these laptops into the students' curriculum, we will explore additional projects that aid in bringing new opportunities to the children. Our primary idea, Kenya Tweets, focuses on allowing the students to create awareness to their situation, and open the door to new sources of funding from the rest of the world. The students will use their XO Laptops to Twitter, or micro-blog, about their everyday lives, updating their status with their thoughts, feelings, and days events. This will tie into a donor website where people across the globe can fund students who they’ve been following through their blogs. For much more detail about Kenya Tweets, please refer to the project ideas section of our wiki proposal.
In regards to developing a sustainable way to keep these laptops, we have a few ideas in mind. Most importantly, EWOB plans on establishing permanent relations between these schools and the University of Illinois. Through EWOB, students will fundraise and continue to come to Tulia and nearby towns to support and grow the OLPC project and future initiatives they identify. In Kenya this summer, we will implement control systems to ensure the laptops stay with the children and are used to their full extent. This includes teaching about proper care and repair, ensuring teachers and parents track ownership, and fostering a sense of ownership and value with each child and their respective laptop. Additionally, Lewis Kamwithi pledged his support to our proposal. Lewis is local pastor who has gone through computer training, and will continue to ensure the laptops are being used properly and will be a knowledgeable resource in case a tech problem arises. As noted earlier, we also hope to create functioning micro businesses using the laptops, such as the Kenya Tweets project, to further ensure there is sufficient funding to maintain the OLPC project in the future.
See complete proposal with hyperlinked text here: File:University of Illinois and EWOB- Tulia, Kenya Proposal.doc
We have developed a GANTT chart describing our work plan from this week onward in preparation for the trip. The key issues addressed in the work plan are as follows:
1. Secure internet connection for the primary school, rather than depend on nearby areas
2. Secure sustainable electrical infrastrucutre
3. Develop pedagogical knowledge base through communication with chosen professors
Please find our GANTT chart attached here: File:Kenya GANTT.xlsx
Professor Madhu Viswanathan has agreed to work with our project team to help us prepare for the pedagogical challenges we expect to face upon beginning our work with the rural, and semi literate Kenyans. Professor Viswanathan has many years of experience both researching subsistence markets and leading a class at the University of Illinois in developing solutions for communities in rural India. We feel that the lessons Prof. Viswanathan has learned teaching and working with rural populous will transfer over to our work in Kenya. He has founded the Marketplace Literacy Project, where he teaches economic principles and good business practice to groups of women in rural India.
Project Proposals Introduction
Introduction: A Need for Adaptability
Having limited experience with Kenyan culture and needs, Entrepreneurs Without Borders (EWOB) is cognizant of our limitations to design projects that we can successfully implement in Kenya. We hope to overcome that limitation by bringing a portfolio of prospective projects to attempt, as well as looking for new initiatives and ways to adapt the old ones during our stay. This proposal will describe our thought process behind how we designed our primary project, and loosely describe how we plan to implement that project. We will also detail a secondary, tentative project, as well as describe how we hope to bring many future initiatives through the infrastructure EWOB has already established.
Expected Pedagogical Challenges
The Digital Divide A challenge we expect to face relates computer use to the lives of the children we are introducing them to. In many cases, these children have limited access to text books, let alone more advanced resources, so computers may be a very new and strange thing for them. Without the proper resources and training, it may be inherently difficult for these children to understand the function and purpose of this technology. We will take advantage of both our own University’s College of Education faculty as well as OLPC’s 10-day training seminar to prepare ourselves to help students bridge this divide. That preparation will include both pedagogical strategies for technology infusion into curriculum, as well as conversation with professors at our University who are well-practiced at introducing new concepts into technologically-underdeveloped cultures.
Westernization and Cultural Sensitivity Computers have become an integral part of westernized culture as well as many other cultures around the world; they have become a social phenomenon and a way to connect, a way to share information with anyone around the world. The XO laptop is meant to be more than a simple productivity tool for the students in active-collaboration areas; it also facilitates long distance social and academic interaction. The MESH network is an excellent tool to introduce this idea to students, but many students still may have difficulty identifying with this foreign connection method. It will be very important for us to keep this cultural difference in mind and to work in a collaborative and culturally sensitive manner with the students. As the students that teams will be working with are six to twelve years old, we expect them to probably be more adaptable, diminishing this issue somewhat.
Collaborative Learning Students will be able to accomplish a significant amount of learning online by using the XO laptops as tools in conjunction with their regular classroom curriculum, but if learning shifts out of balance and teachers place too much emphasis on only online learning, then the students may not benefit nearly as much as a collaborative environment would provide. The OLPC project has outlined just such a collaborative environment; we will work with teachers to determine the appropriate pedagogical balance based on their experience, OLPC’s expertise, and, to a more limited degree, our research.
Technical Challenges The nature of Tulia’s infrastructure will pose some interesting technical challenges. Issues we expect to face include securing an appropriate level of power access to the server, as well as a dependable and affordable internet connection. We are currently working to alleviate both concerns, and are interested in raising money to add the additional needed infrastructure.
Misuse We will need to be confident that students are using the computers for their intended purpose. Students run the risk of losing the XO laptops through theft or economic need, or may abuse the laptop for non-academic purposes if they are not appropriately monitored. We will need to be sure that a system is in place to ensure this monitoring is happening.
Pace of Life We understand that collaboration is done at a slower pace in Kenya, and across much of Africa, than it is done in the United States. While there is much we hope to accomplish, cool heads prevail and we are prepared to adapt to the speed at which Kenyans are able to work with us. We will attack our work with both patience and enthusiasm.
Goals: Sustainability Focus
While we are confident that we can ensure the laptop program’s success during out stay, we will need to work hard to design a system to guarantee that children at the Kavonge Primary School will continue to receive and keep the XO laptops. In order to achieve these goals, we hope to (1) develop control systems that ensure that the children are productively using the laptops, and (2) that either EWOB or the school itself can financially support the laptops indefinitely.
Goal (1): Proper use of laptops
The XO laptop is a very valuable piece of machinery. In any community, there is a threat that it will be misused or stolen. We must ensure that, beyond the extent of our trip, the laptop is used solely by the children, and for the right purposes.
In order to ensure their continued use, EWOB plans to implement a few different control systems. Firstly, we will depend greatly on our relationships with trusted authorities in Tulia. Namely, the teachers and our sponsors who wrote letters of support will be a primary authority. Secondly, the Kenya Tweets will also serve as our eyes and ears, which we will describe in more detail below (See: Project Idea 1: Kenya Tweets). Thirdly, EWOB’s continued presence in Tulia through annual/semiannual trips will act both as a third control system, as well as promote growth through future projects.
Goal (2): Financial sustainability
The teachers, students, and OLPC program at Kavonge Primary School will need a consistent revenue stream for support. EWOB imagines that financing can come both from grants that we apply for to maintain the project, as well as revenue which the program creates on its own, creating some level of financial independence from grants.
Firstly, EWOB hopes to maintain interest in this Kenya initiative by turning it into a permanent program at the university. Having been rolled into the University of Illinois’ College of Business, and with a large and growing membership of students from all over the University of Illinois, EWOB can ensure the sustainability of interest in Kenya Tweets and other projects by planning future trips every year to Kavonge Primary School, brining more laptops and solutions to problems recognized by previous trips that we design while at school. We also hope to collaborate closely with Caring For Kenya, which brings money and solutions to the town of Tulia where Kavonge Primary School is located.
Secondly, we hope to design a revenue-generating collaboration between EWOB and Kavonge Primary School, which will add some level of independence from grants. This independence is valuable for imbibing Kenyans with a sense of pride through empowerment, which we believe is an imperative in ensuring overall economic development.
In designing such economic sustainability, we must be certain that we are not promoting any unethical practices. EWOB wants to ensure that any solution does not offer an incentive to parents to revoke the laptops from their children, and use it as a revenue generator, as this will defeat the noble purpose of bringing these laptops to educate children. The XO laptop is a gift to 100 very lucky 6-12 year old students, we hope to foster a feeling of ownership. We also don’t want to design a program that would inadvertently endorse child-labor, so must be sure that any work done with the aid of the XO laptops is as close to the original education-focused goals of OLPC as possible.
We currently have two project ideas to implement in addition to the original goals of introducing the OLPC laptop to Kavonge Primary School’s curriculum. We describe both in detail below. In addition to XO laptop-focused projects, EWOB hopes to identify future projects that we can implement on later trips to improve the standard of living in Tulia altogether.
Project Idea 1: Kenya Tweets
Mission To connect donors from around the world who are interested to in supporting promising education projects with Kenyan students who have OLPC laptops with whom they have established tangible relationships.
While it is simple enough to set up a website that connects school children with donors, there are a few inherent problems:
1. Buy-in: How do we reach a wide enough audience of potential donors, and then how do we convince them to continue supporting the students?
2. Empowerment: How can we ensure that this revenue stream is something the Africans can be proud of, invested in, and feel like they are contributing to?
3. OLPC standards: How can we ensure that this revenue-generating system does not interfere with the educational goals of the OLPC program?
4. Child labor concerns: How can we ensure that whatever revenue-generating systems that involve 6-12 year old children and the OLPC laptop don’t threaten the opportunity to extort into child labor?
Solution The Kenya Tweets proposal can be broken into two separate but inter-related initiatives: marketing/awareness and donor website. Both will be collaborations between Entrepreneurs Without Borders in the United States, Caring For Kenya in the United States, and the Kenyan town in Africa.
Marketing/Awareness From my experience growing up, I can remember that one of the things I treasured most about the internet was the social network that flourished. In recent years, much of the developed, and developing, world has found the same value in blogging and in social networks like Facebook or Orkut. Based on their fundamental desire to share and communicate, we believe Kenyan schoolchildren with XO laptops will take famously to Twitter, which will serve as a non-synchronous means to share their lives, thoughts, jokes, and photos with one another. In doing so, they create value that other people around the world can appreciate, not unlike art. Further, other people can interact with the students in a way that was previously ineffective and felt forced. With the appropriate control systems in place, we hope to connect these students with the rest of the microcosm of twitter users, many of whom we believe would love to interact and learn about the lives of Kenyan students on a day-to-day basis.
Choosing to use Twitter is an important distinction – we want to invest our efforts into an idea which we think 6-12 year olds would take to. Children are most productive when they are having fun, and we believe Twitter is a great way for these children to have fun without realizing that they are in fact working. Beyond Twitter, we hope to make public a wide variety of other initiatives and content that the XO laptop owners create – namely, school projects and blogs. Therefore, while we are currently most interested in using Twitter, we are ready to explore other ideas; we hope to discover the most effective medium during our stay from June through August of 2009 as we develop stronger relationships with the students and understand their culture better.
Using an idea made famous by marketing guru Seth Godin, we hope to lever the concept of “permission marketing” to then use those established relationships to create potential donors that will support Kenyan school children. Rather than follow the traditional, inefficient marketing strategies of broadcasting the need for donations, we will market directly to people whom we believe already have an interest in these students, because they follow them on Twitter, or comment on their blogs. We believe that this audience will be significantly more interested in donating, because they will have a far stronger sense of connection with the target of their donations.
Donor Website We will market to the Twitter followers a website that they can visit to learn about the students, teachers, and general education program at our school in Kenya, and chose to make donations to improve them. Depending on what we find to be the most effective measure, donors can either donate to entire classrooms or individual students, or pay for specific objects/services that schools need to improve each student’s education. The website will also track the success of the students through their test scores, graduation rates, and other metrics, so donors can see the success that their donations are making. Two members of Entrepreneurs without Borders, Mark Paik and RJ Dionko are currently working on a business plan for a very similar concept, and with their support and the introduction of laptops, we hope make this idea viable in Tulia.
Because this website will be revenue-generating, we hope to turn it into a bona-fide not-for-profit business by the end of 2009, and establish equal ownership between Entrepreneurs Without Borders and the school board of Kavonge Primary School. This will ensure the future viability of the website, as well as cement a permanent relationship between the University of Illinois and Tulia. A collaboration of EWOB, Caring for Kenya, and the local school authorities will write the business plan during our stay from June through August 2009. We also hope that Kenyans can, at least in part, maintain the website. This would thus serve as a wonderful platform to educate citizens of Tulia in computers, programming, marketing and general business practice, as well as offer some employment for a few.
Twitter will also serve as a valuable control system for the OLPC program, and can hedge against some common issues that we have recognized plague similar donation businesses.
One such problem is that donors remain skeptical over where their money is actually spent. They are looking for assurance and accountability. Unforeseen circumstances could arise, such as a student needing to leave school in order to work for their family. Fortunately, through Twitter or similar mediums, students will most likely tweet or blog about this change in their life, and even perhaps be able to communicate. Twitter can also offer proof of the success of a donation, as students can photograph the books or other donations. Finally, Twitter, if continually used, will be evidence that the students still own and are still using the laptops.
Project Idea 2: Translation
Entrepreneurs Without Borders credits one of our heroes, Nathan Eagle, with coming up with a wonderful idea for bringing potential for income to countless Africans through an organization he founded called txteagle, which assigns simple tasks that can be performed through mobile phones for money. Some of that work, and more complicated tasks that require a larger screen and more developed interface, could be managed through the XO laptops, or through other laptops that benefit from the internet infrastructure established by the OLPC program.
We have not yet contacted Nathan, and are unsure of his ability or interest in collaborating with us, however we would love to pursue this concept further.
However, as mentioned in Project Idea 1, we are cognizant of the fact that such an initiative could threaten to dilute the educational value the OLPC XO laptop has to offer, as well as could threaten to promote child-labor, which is something we intend on avoiding at all costs. Therefore, this idea is only tentative, and we hope to develop it further through conversation with the appropriate parties in Tulia, as well as hopefully Nathan Eagle, who could offer us advice on the best use of this idea. We are further interested in working with Nathan in any areas where appropriate synergies can be found.
Project Idea 3: Future EWOB/Caring for Kenya Projects
As described above, Entrepreneurs Without Borders hopes to return to Tulia, where we can introduce and work on new projects that we identify in our original trip. The trips will probably occur on either an annual or semi-annual basis, and coincide either with the University of Illinois' fall, winter, or spring breaks. A 2-3 week winter break trip is most likely, which EWOB will use to implement a new project designed during our coming 10 week stay. The winter-break trip will be financed by Entrepreneurs Without Borders.
Trips will be staffed by future members of Entrepreneurs Without Borders, which, because of its well-established relationship with the University of Illinois, will continue to recruit some of the best talent from our University.
Caring For Kenya is also very interested in planning a joint-trip with EWOB for the May-August period of 2010, and future years. The project we are most interested in pursuing will be to finish a new school that is currently being built in a nearby town, and using our assembled knowledge from past trips to implement a powerful new curriculum that includes OLPC's XO laptop. Such a trip will be scheduled during the May-August period of 2011, when the school is finished.
Caring For Kenya
Caring For Kenya is our initial contact with our hosts in Kenya. Based out of Urbana, IL, Caring For Kenya has been traveling to Kenya for the past few years, having successfully completed five trips where they have introduced multiple wells, school and church buildings, and a mobile medical clinic.
Kavonge Primary School
Kavonge Primary School has been educating Kenyan students for at least the past 10 years. The school holds around 350 students, and is organized into two classes for each grade. They are the school we will be working at, and are very excited to receive our laptops and instruction, as well as work with us on future initiatives.
University of Illinois Chapter of Entrepreneurs Without Borders
While EWOB is technically the organization we are pursuing this work through, we also want to describe ourselves as a partnering organization, in order to highlight our long-term commitment to this project. While the first team of students who hope make the first trip to Kenya to implement this project will soon graduate, Entrepreneurs Without Borders will have already cemented a lasting relationship with the Kavonge Primary school, other nearby schools, and representatives of the village of Tulia, in the Kavonge region of Kenya.
EWOB is already planning a second trip to Tulia for this winter, staffed with new EWOB members who can develop their own personal connections within the village. Our intention is to continue returning to Tulia, or other nearby villages, on a annual or semi-annual basis to ensure the success and growth of this OLPC program, as well as implement future project ideas. We have every expectation that the relationship we form between the University of Illinois and these schools in Kenya will be a lasting one.
Letters of Support
Erastus Kavuti File:Support Letter - Erastus Kavuti.pdf Erastus is Caring For Kenya's coordinator in the field. He lives in Kavuli, and will be working closely with us during our stay and on into the future. He has pledged his support to "assist with the implementation of the project at the Kavonge Primary and/or Ilako Secondary school." He has also assured us that the teachers at both school are excited with the opportunity to include this technology and expertise into their curriculum, and we expect full support from them as well. Erastus is also able to help us get our OLPC package efficiently through customs.
Mrs. Peter A. M File:Support Letter - Mrs. Peter A. M.pdf The principal of a secondary school in Tulia near the primary school where are work will be performed. She is able to handle the 230kg laptop package, as well as assist us in "all logistical advice and safety matters to the best of [their] ability." She has great desire to see computers and computer training be brought to these schools, and we intend on working with her secondary school on future endeavors, and perhaps this one, if time is permitting and we are still able to devote all of the necessary resources to the primary school.
Lewis Kamwithi File:Support Letter - Lewis Kamwithi.pdf A local pastor who is trusted and admired by Caring For Kenya, Lewis has computer training, and hopes to teach computer use to students. We will be working with him to ensure the appropriate integration of laptops into the curriculum of the primary school children. Lewis will also be able to ensure that the laptops are being used for their proper purposes throughout the year while we are away, thereby ensuring the sustainability of our project.
Carl Burkybile File:Support Letter - Carl Burkyble.pdf We have Carl to thank for so much - he was our initial contact with Tulia and our sponsors. He is the Director of Caring For Kenya, which continues to travel to Kenya to solve problems being faced by Kenyans. He has pledged his allegiance with our project, and is also very interested in working on future initiatives with EWOB beyond this first project. EWOB's continued relationship with Caring For Kenya will add another level of sustainability to our work.
Below is a preliminary budget for the 10-week summer trip. We expect to remain over OLPC's $10,000USD cap, so intend on aggressively raising the remaining funds on our own prior to departure. Because of EWOB's close connection with the University of Illinois, we are confident that we will be able to match the remaining costs.
We intend on following OLPC's Deployment Guide closely in order to best understand how to budget our time as well as our finances. Our next steps are to work with other stakeholders to develop a preliminary GANTT chart to detail our project from April 1st, 2009 through to the next trip, which will be scheduled for December/January of 2009-2010.
|Item||Cost per person per day||Total cost|
|Airfare Chicago to Nairobi||$1700||$3400|
|Airfare Nairobi to Kigali||$400||$800|
|Night in Nairobi, Travel to Tulia||$125||$250|
|Room and board5||$15||$2100|
|Power for server6||$N/A||$2500|
1: Travel expense based on $50/day estimated truck rental fee
2: Quoted by rough estimate though Carl Burkybile
3: Quoted by University of Illinois McKinley Health center pharmacy
4: Insurance quoted through Seven Corners' Liason International product, underwritten by Nationwide in Illinois. Specs: $1,000,000 in Medical Benefits; Emergency Evacuation, Repatriation, and 24-Hour Assistance Services, no hazardous sport coverage
5: Quoted by rough estimate between Carl Burkybile and Erastus Kavuti
6: Included: generator installation and powering for primary school to support server, if unable to use secondary school infrastructure (considered using advice from Deployment Guide). Also, internet installation and maintenance costs
Complete Budget Document: File:University of Illinois and EWOB- Kenya - BUDGET.doc
Past EWOB Projects
Mission EWOB’s mission for our second trip to Croatia was twofold: education and sustainability. Through practice and application of consulting concepts facilitated by UIUC’s EWOB chapter, the students of the JJ Strossmayer University of Osijek experienced first-hand how to approach, evaluate and provide viable business solutions to small business owners. The newly founded EWOB Osijek chapter creates sustainability of these projects by continually working with the small business owners ensuring implementation of the solution provided.
Preparation The UIUC EWOB chapter took on several Educational Initiatives in preparation for the Croatia trip. A team of members developed workshops on the consulting process, setting scope and framing a consulting engagement, reading financial statements, using strategic frameworks, and making presentations to clients. Our members then facilitated these workshops to teach the Croatian students before beginning the engagements.
International Experience While in Croatia the UIUC EWOB chapter attended a series of seminars at the JJ Strossmayer University of Osijek Faculty of Economics. The topics of these workshops ranged from the Croatian economy to basic Baltic language skills and discussions with university students on differences between the educational systems in Croatia and the United States. Our group also visited the Center for Entrepreneurship in downtown Osijek which partners with university, its Graduate Programme in Entrepreneurship, and the Business Incubator BIOS Osijek. There, our members learned of the importance of entrepreneurship in Croatia and the recent trends of its economy.
Projects The 17 American members of EWOB teamed with 30 Croatian EWOB members to perform consulting for 8 different local businesses in Osijek, Croatia. These cross-national teams identified issues the organizations were facing, scoped out project-based solutions, and performed the appropriate research in order to present implementable solutions for their clients. Engagements varied between 2 to 4 weeks in length, and teams consulted for organizations varying from local not-for-profits to farmers' co-ops to high-tech manufacturing and retail. Issues varied from financial analysis to marketing advisory to bankruptcy options.
On top of garnering real work experience, EWOB members also learned how to work on teams with people who speak a different language and come from a different culture under high-pressure situations where they had to deliver a quality service.
A similar trip is scheduled for January of 2010, where similar consulting work will be done, on a larger scale.
This past winter break, twelve students traveled to Peru on a fact finding mission. It's purpose was to determine the economic status and potential for future EWOB projects. Our trip began in Lima, where the delegation met Professor Rosa Maria of Universidad Pacifico. She informed the team as to the evolution of Peru's modern social and political climates and primed them for future instruction regarding the economic issues that Peru faces.
The members of EWOB then spent a few days with fifteen Peruvian students from Universidad Pacifico. This allowed said members to gain a firmer grasp of Peruvian culture as well as an intimate knowledge of the expectations and aspirations of the country's future business professionals. The students spent a day working with each other to establish the foundation for a future Peru-based EWOB initiative and/or student partnership. Shortly thereafter, the visiting team were host to a presentation at the country's prestigious national bank, the Banco Central Reservada de Peru. The discussion, led by the institution's senior economist Mr. Alberto, afforded the students further knowledge as to the economic position of Peru both in comparison to its immediate history as well as in relation to all of the nation's economies in South America.
Afterward, the EWOB members traveled to Casa Blanca, a small village in the mountains outside of the provincial capital of Ica. There they met with the Miami University chapter of Engineers Without Borders. The local villagers of Casa Blanca took sheltered each group, tending to their lodging and ensuring that they recieve ample food and shelter. The American teams unified to improve the villagers' water-delivery system. This process involved liberal amounts of resource management, town hall-style debates amongst the villagers, and physical labor. After performing said task and winning the villagers' favor, the EWOB members were able to approach the village leaders and assess the opportunity for future beneficial endeavors. These include the expansion of Casa Blanca's Savings and Loan to incorporate a micro-financing system, establishing a marketplace to lower the prices of goods that are essential to nearby mountain-dwllers, and bringing seed capital to support guinea pig farming.
Upon leaving the mountainside and returning to the Ica, the team established ties with the city's business institute. While there, they surmised scenarios that would allow for the impoverished mountain peoples to attend management programs and bring such valuable knowledge back to their markets and lending associations. The school's dean was receptive to this idea, and exchanged information regarding the nature and duration of the program, including how best to pay for the villagers' tuition.
Currently, EWOB is researching the feasibility of these and other sustainable economic projects with the goal of improving the condition of living in Casa Blanca. Team members intend on returning to Peru with a similarly-sized party as soon as Winter 2009.