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Berkeley/Panajachel

Leaving one beautiful place for another – (Top) Berkeley hills; (Bottom) Panajachel, Guatemala

Three months from today, I will be on a plane heading back to Panajachel, Guatemala – where this whole experience started for me almost two years ago. It all actually happened pretty inadvertently. I loved my time in Guatemala, and have always talked about going abroad again right after graduation – somewhere, anywhere – but I never thought that it would actually happen, especially not to Panajachel.

But – it’s happening! On May 28th, just a few days after my final graduation ceremony, I will start my new position as a Field Consultant for the international social enterprise Community Enterprise Solutions for the Sololá region, and will begin my work in supporting, implementing, and monitoring the organization’s unique “microconsignment” model (MCM). Essentially, the MCM works to provide socially useful and socially necessary products and services at affordable prices to the rural poor in the developing world through empowerment and entrepreneurship. To do this, CES identifies and trains individuals (predominately women) in rural communities to be “microentrepreneurs” – providing them with the skills and background necessary to sell products like eyeglasses, high-efficiency stoves, and solar-powered lights within their communities. Rather than providing the entrepreneurs with products on loan or on credit, CES consigns these products, thus mitigating the initial financial burden/risk. For more information on the microconsignment model, click here!

My Field Consultant position will hold me responsible for the entrepreneurs and communities within my region – working with Juana, the local regional coordinator for Sololá – I will identify, train, and monitor entrepreneurs, manage the office/storefront in Sololá, and conduct evaluations and research for new partnerships and innovation (among other responsibilities). It’s a dream position and I can’t wait to get started! The summer will be particularly exciting, as I will be helping to coordinate the organization’s summer internship program, run through a program called Social Entrepreneurship Corps, which will allow me the opportunity not only to travel and familiarize myself with the organization’s work on a broader scale, but also to work with students (not unlike myself) to maximize their potential impact and to think critically and reflectively about their work. As a (soon-to-be recently graduated) student of international development and global poverty, I know I’ll be able to relate to these students’ experiences and I’m really excited for that part of my new position.

But between now and May, there’s still so much I have left to do. Aside from finishing up my classes, my capstone project (which I’ll be doing about the microconsignment model), and my pending graduation, I want to make the most of these next three months – continuing to explore the Bay Area, spending time with friends (both those graduating and those who will be sticking around), and soaking in as much California sun as possible before heading off for another torrential rainy season in Pana (albeit a rainy season on the shores of the most beautiful lake in the world, Lake Atitlan). Stay tuned here for more updates!

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