OUR FIRST STEPS TOWARD OUR FUTURE

Bolivian youth are changing the way of thinking in a new business. 62 youth were part of an innovating project funded by Barnfonden to help them to create and develop their own business plan.

bolivia_2016_mh_01_entreprenorskap-s16-03

THE BEGINNING

Oruro is a small town located in the Bolivian southern side, last century the region had its golden era with mine activities but today most of its populations work with formal and informal commerce, due to the near Chilean border, this is the main economic activity. Youth in this town look for an income source to help their family but the lack of knowledge about basic business management is an obstacle. “There are courses about this but they are expensive”, tells Alvaro Vargas, ´Estrella del Sur´ program coordinator, “enrolled youth can´t afford them and their future is unknown. With this opportunity we can give a hand to great youth ideas.”

ChildFund Bolivia and Barnfonden from Sweden developed a project to help these girls and boys with free technical and financial instruction about business development, “we must help our families, this is a great opportunity because they give us technical training, and also materials are free. Of course we must compromise our time and commitment to complete the course and create our small business” says Diego, one of the youth entrepreneurs.

bolivia_2016_mh_020_maria-de-los-angeles-castellon-vasuez_entreprenorskap-s16-03

THE PROCESS

This project had different steps: 62 girls and boys were selected by their ideas and commitment, each one with a business idea. There were chefs, artisans and engineers who trained them and helped to develop that primal idea. Then, they also learned about business image and marketing; of course finance managing took part in training too. “These boys and girls are an example for us. I know many of them since their first years. There is hidden genius among us” tells Isabel Mamani, ‘Jesús de Nazaret’ Project coordinator. “they learned about finance and numbers very fast. Suddenly they were able to calculate costs and benefits,” tells very happy.

“It is amazing how these young boys and girls have unique ideas”, tells, Mayra Andrade, chef in charge of baking courses. “They have huge expectations, and the most interesting is their age: fourteen, sixteen year-old boys but with big dreams.”

Finally, after 9 months of technical training, they can proudly present their ideas to the public. They managed to have an exposition in the local government hall. That morning investors and local authorities visited every stand where girls and boys explained their ideas.

THE RESULT

That day, eight projects were selected by different investors and other 42 are in a promising negotiating process. That new experience for all youth entrepreneurs was also a value lesson. “I feel I am a winner,” says Max, he is 16 and created an electrical repair services business, “despite I get an investment today or later, or if I must re think my idea, I know I can reach my goal now because learned how to improve my ideas.”

What comes next? Every project selected by an investor must prove it works; the other ones must improve some weak points to get investments too. Oruro might look as a small city but it is full of gigantic ideas for sure.

bolivia_2016_mh_023_entreprenorskap-s16-03

A beautiful landscape

IMG-20160125-WA0008

Kimberly visiting rural areas in Oruro

Kimberly is 16 and lives in Oruro with her family near a hill called “Rooster’s Claw”. Every day she must walk carefully the old stone stairs to go downtown. At night she must climb the stairs again. Despite this climb she feels happy living there just because a few blocks up, at the top of the hill stands one of the most important monuments in Oruro, the big statue representing Mary,  Christ’s mother and patroness of the city. This religious monument is visited by many people, national and international tourist every year; February and March are the highest seasons due to one of the biggest religious parties in Bolivia, Carnival.

“I love going out with my family to visit Mary’s monument, we have a marvelous landscape view from the city; especially at night.” Kimberly lives with her 3 younger siblings and her parents. “My mom is housewife, we study and my dad works. I will graduate from high school soon and I would like to learn some occupation because I’d like to help with my family’s economy too.” Unfortunately, the situation for teenage workers is not very good in Bolivia. Many of them wish to learn a technical ability but they lack the resources to do so.

IMG-20160125-WA0007

The group visiting one of the archeological places in Oruro

ChildFund’s Local Partner in Oruro, Estrella del Sur, developed an entrepreneurship program with youth in 2015. Fourteen teenagers signed up to learn how to be a tour guide. “Oruro has a huge potential as a touristic destination” tells Alvaro Vargas, Estrella del Sur’ Program Coordinator, “Especially during Carnival season, Oruro also has many touristic places to visit and enjoy.” These youth learned about tourism, Oruro’s history, the region’s legends and tales for 8 weeks.  After the training, Kimberly and her friends will be able to associate and offer tours, earn their own money and improve their lives.

“They taught us many things, even simple details as talking in front of the public, manage stage fright, talk properly… I was very shy and they helped me a lot,” tells Kimberly smiling. “Besides, I had the chance to visit beautiful places I didn’t know in my city.”

Kimberly and her friends created now their own organization, “Jóvenes guías turísticos”, and are preparing a business plan and searching for alliances with the local government.

“Now I can work as a tour guide, earn some money and help my family” tells Kimberly as we climb the last stairs up to the Virgin monument. “And of course, show the entire world this beautiful landscape.”

img_0628

Night view of Oruro’s monument with blue light