By: Calvin Burns, Guest Writer
Recently back from their Thunderbird Emerging Markets Laboratory (TEM Lab) Project in Piura, Calvin Burns, Lam Trinh, and Zak Gerdts share their experience in the Northwestern Peru.
The team completed an intensive, seven-week consulting project in which they worked with their client, the Regional Government of Piura, on helping implement a national law involving economic development in the agricultural sector. The law, PROCOMPITE, seeks to provide asset-grants to small collective groups of farmers in rural communities. The collectives are required to submit business plans to the Regional Government and state how these grants will help improve their business and therefore make the region more competitive. The government then evaluates the plans and either grants the assets or works with the farmers to make changes based on the necessary criteria. When the assets are granted, the hope is that the goods can be sold for cheaper to the community and the rest exported to international markets, thus bringing in money to the community.
This is the third team to work specifically on PROCOMPITE and the fourth in the region of Piura. What the previous two teams had been working on is as follows: The first team developed material to distribute to the collectives about how to make a business plan and providing workshops to help the farmers. The second team went down to help the government understand business plans and differentiate which ones were not up to specifications. – Our team, which was the most recent, was responsible for making the process sustainable. We sought to bring the collectives, government, and universities together to pool resources.
For the last year the Regional Government had been strictly dependent on Thunderbird students to guide the government on the process of implementing its law. Now that the knowledge was transferred, we needed to build support networks and foster talks with different stakeholders in the community. We formed a triple alliance between the small collectives, universities (both private and public), and the government. The government would provide business students in the region with practical internships (possibly leading to jobs) to work with the collectives on business plan development and teaching workshops. The collectives would then turn in complete plans to the government and the assets could be distributed to the farmers. This would cut down on the problems that the government would have to try to fix with the incomplete plans and time spent on each project. The goal was to use the human capital that was present in the region to improve the process.
In addition to the triple alliance, the team also developed a “best practices” guide for other governments that were seeking to participate in the PROCOMPITE law in the future. This way, the other district and regional governments did not have to go through the pain of hiring more external consultants to successfully implement the process.
Overall, the government was very pleased with the Thunderbirds progress in seven weeks, even having offered the Team Lead, Zak Gerdts, a job for the coming summer. The three of them will be wrapping up their studies at Thunderbird this year and really enjoyed the opportunity and challenges that the TEM Lab provided them.