Tell us more about the project in Peru
The name of the innovation project is Work 4 Progress, which we will be joining alongside our partners Codespa, SIC4Change and University San Marco. The aim is to help to create an opportunity for the emergence of local solutions in Peru to generate economic empowerment in rural areas.
It has been running for two years so far and La Caixa, the organisation which is funding the whole project, wants to open the door for other organisations to have more social impact.
We’re focusing on the social innovation development of ecosystems in two rural regions of Peru: Condorcanqui and Quispicanchi. These areas which have little access to opportunities, they’re in the Amazon and close to Cusco – the jungle and the mountains – so the people that live and work there generally have little access to opportunities. They are distanced from the ecosystem and the metropolitan areas.
So, what’s your impression of the ecosystem in Peru?
It’s interesting because the ecosystem in Peru is quite developed, but it’s not well organized. This was also the opinion of the locals I spoke to on my trip.
Their general view was that there are resources because there’s money, there is a structure of organizations – so there’s also an understanding, but work needs to be done regarding training and innovation.
In other words, people understand the message but there are few projects and initiatives which are long term and share the same objectives. There’s a lot of talent, but there’s not a history of formal entrepreneurship or methodology. This shows the two sides of the story – the positive and the negative.
Who did you meet?
In Lima, we met some of the entrepreneurs who have been with the project for two years. They usually work in very local businesses, like farming and animal care, and have a solid understanding of their work but don’t have access to many opportunities. This project helps to provide a solution to this. These people are of course entrepreneurs in their own right, although the world may have a different understanding of what entrepreneurship may look like.
What’s interesting is there are differences on a cultural level. For example, language and the way of understanding business and the market. The objective was to get to know the local reality so we can understand what type of entrepreneurs they are, what they’re doing and what they need.
Some of the entrepreneurs don’t have access to the internet and only speak their local language. This makes them different to some of the entrepreneurs we usually work with here at Bridge, but this is one of the reasons we exist: to build diversity within the entrepreneur ecosystem.
What are the next steps for the project?
We are working collectively with our three new partners to revise our strategy, now that we have a better understanding of the local area and a clear vision. We know what we want to do and what we need to make that happen.
We’re going to carry out the project in 3 stages:
1. Active listening – understanding the local reality of the entrepreneurs so that we can create impactful solutions.
2. The second step (which is where Bridge comes in) is the project development stage, so once we have our clear objectives and the solutions we want to focus on, our platform is going to be the tool the entrepreneurs use to really build their business plans.
3. We call the final part scaling. This is the moment where we create systems and structures which connect these solutions and allow entrepreneurs to meet people within their network of interest.
It’s a lot of work, but luckily there are four companies involved in the project, so we have a really experienced team. Our objective is that during these two years, 70 or more businesses will be able to develop as a result of the innovation project.
In this sense, we hope that the project will achieve economic empowerment for the entrepreneurs in these rural areas since they will be able to create local solutions designed specifically to suit their needs. We hope that this will boost value creation in Peru since it paves the way to a sustainable, collaborative and high impact future, by focusing on local solutions and building a network of businesses that implement these.
And on a personal level, how was Peru for you?
Peru blew me away – it was a really great experience. In terms of culture and personal experience, the trip has been 10 out of 10! I felt great there – I want to go back already. It’s also a really resource rich country which really caught my attention. In this sense I think it’s a country which has the tools to keep growing and get to where it wants to go.