Goal 2 of a Community Economic Peace Corps volunteer is to help promote economic opportunities for women and young people through trainings and education on income generating activities. To help fulfill this goal, I spent 10 weeks from October through December teaching a course at the high school called, Somos Emprendedores, Somos Perú. This course is designed to teach skills of entrepreneurship and business plan writing so that students are empowered to start businesses in their communities, which ultimately helps the economy grow.
In Peru, an extremely small percentage of people work for medium or large businesses. Somewhere around 90% of the population of Perú works for MYPES (micro and small businesses). However, in my community, not very many small businesses receive any sort of education or training on business, so it is uncommon to see a system of inventory or marketing, like we typically see in even the smallest businesses in the United States.
That is where SOMOS comes in! This course is broken into 3 modules and each module teaches certain themes of business- starting with idea generation. This is probably my favorite lesson because the students reflect on their community and are able to use creativity to fill gaps in the needs of their community members.
Module 2 of SOMOS mostly covers the skills involved with finance and operational management, while Module 3 is the softer skills such as Marketing and Environmental Consciousness. Each class is designed to be interactive, fun, and educational.
Originally 45 students signed up for my class, but by the end, I only had 4 graduate. To my US readers, you probably are thinking, “Wow, Caron must be a terrriibbbllee teacher!” To my other Peace Corps volunteer readers, you’re probably thinking, “That sounds about right.” For me, I’m really proud. I made the class rigorous and I made stricter rules than the students are accustomed to. Therefore, by the end of the class, I had the students who were super serious about starting their businesses, so they were fully engaged in my classes and I could always count on them to be on top of the work. Plus, I taught a 1o week course in Spanish! How cool is that!?
At the end of the 10 weeks, I arranged a certificate ceremony with my Municipality where the students had the opportunity to present their business plans to the mayor and the gerente, or manager, of the Province of Asunción. The mayor absolutely loved their projects and vowed to work with them on funding and more education so that they could successfully pursue their business ideas.