Posted by: Sanette | July 16, 2010

background.

*Solely for your own understanding! Reading this is not necessary in understanding the subsequent parts!

After serving as Peace Corps Volunteers in Guatemala from 2001 to 2003, social entrepreneurs Greg Van Kirk and George Bucky Glickley co-founded a series of developmental programs to provide beneficial goods and services in developing countries. In 2004 Van Kirk and Glickley launched the U.S. nonprofit Community Enterprise Solutions (CE Solutions). Based on their pioneer MicroConsignment Model (MCM), CE Solutions trained women entrepreneurs (asesores) to sell products, such as reading glasses, water purifiers and wood-burning stoves, on consignment to persons in rural villages.

To further self-sustainability, Van Kirk and Glickley founded Soluciones Comunitarias (SolCom) in 2006 and transferred full ownership over to Guatemalans by 2009. Finally, to support the initiatives, Van Kirk and Glickley created the sister organization Social Entrepreneur Corps (SEC) in 2005 to provide internship and volunteer experiences for college students and recent graduates. SEC now has programs in Guatemala, Ecuador and Nicaragua.

I applied through and received financial support from my university-sponsored DukeEngage program, participated in the SEC program and worked for SolCom. After spending the first two weeks in Antigua for orientation, the 35 participants from various universities were split into groups of eight or nine to conduct week-long field work sessions in Huehuetenango, Nebaj, Solola and Xela on a rotational basis. We returned to Antigua for analysis and reflection during the middle and end of the program.

Although we held campaigns centered on the MCM and conducted surveys on products and village needs at each site, our work was never the same from city to city, or even from day to day. In Huehuetenango, we held two consulting sessions: first, with two women entrepreneurs who wanted to sell peanut butter; and second, with a couple who planned to use a government-granted plot of land as a community space. We decorated an afterschool center and improved publicity for a Nebaj restaurant. We conducted initial MCM training for a weaving cooperative in Solola, as well as evaluated a new potential product for SolCom. We painted a mural in a basketball court near Xela and listened to a presentation from Pajebal, a loaning company founded by a recent Duke graduate.

DukeEngage, SEC, voluntarios de los Estados Unidos—however you want to say it, welcome to my summer.

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