Taking the Barefoot MBA to as many places as we can has led me to cross paths with many things I might not have discovered without it. Certainly I have seen places and met people I might not have been able to access – rural parts of Thailand this past summer and rural parts of Guatemala in the days to come, incredible people in far corners of the world, and our own backyards, doing incredible things to help others.
I have also had the pleasure of meeting organizations pursuing similar goals of education, community and economic development, and poverty alleviation, our host being one such example.
I am in Guatemala at the invitation of the department of engineering at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (UVG), and specifically one professor who has been working to add entrepreneurial aspects to the curriculum. Not only are they trying to provide a more well-rounded education for their graduates, they also have a campus on a former army base in Sololá that works closely with the people of the region doing work in job creation, economic development, and sustainable agricultural practices.
I have read their studies of the types of businesses owned and run by the rural women in and around Sololá, and have a sense for the numbers describing the income levels there. I have been told, and will see firsthand tomorrow afternoon, how these women struggle to provide for themselves and their families, many having lost their husbands during the 36 years of civil war that ended in 1996. Often times poverty is better understood when seen in person, and I hope to not only begin to understand it, but also how the Barefoot MBA can help.
While the document has not yet been translated into Spanish, we have, and will, conduct all our work in Spanish (or local dialects through Spanish translation). After all, the goal here is to help the faculty at Sololá understand how to use the curriculum so that they may continue to follow the adaptation guide after I have left and can continue the work in my absence. Hasta mañana.