Women in Entrepreneurship in Peru – The 10 days I spent in Arequipa, Peru was nothing short of a beautiful and memorable learning experience, both personally and educationally. I will always remember the learning moments, the rich culture and history, the food, the warm weather, and of course, the people. It has been a positive, life changing experience for me; one I will never forget for the rest of my life.
While we were working and collaborating with the students from Institudo del Sur (ISUR) and the women from the 100 Women Entrepreneurs Program, assisting them in building upon their business plan with the Business Model Canvas, it helped me come to realize that no matter where we are located geographically, we are all connected as human beings.
As a Canadian woman in business, I learned we face similar challenges that the Peruvian women entrepreneurs encounter.. Such as access to capital, self confidence, and networking opportunities. These women were mindfully open and engaged over the past 2 weeks while we worked with them, which means they were willing to do what it takes to help themselves, their business, and their families. I have learned when “we” as people, invest and help women entrepreneurs in becoming successful, not only do we invest in the women and their future, but we invest in their entire families. This can have a positive, economic impact to their communities and most importantly, their present and future lives.
Aside from the Business Model Canvas, I learned about Peru’s rich and cultural history of the Inca’s, experienced fresh,traditional dishes (‘Cuy’ or Guinea Pig and Alpaca meat), and was fortunate enough to see the Andes Mountains and ColcaCanyon (which is 3000 meters deep!). A series of volcanoes dominate the Arequipa city skyline: Misti, PichuPichu and Chachani. This is a breathtaking view! Near the mountains, you will see the traditional heritage of the Peruvian culture and farming practices of the people. I learned the Peruvian people are very resourceful and true to their culture, regardless of where they live.
On the weekend, we had a city tour and visited the Museo Santuarios Andinos of the Catholic University of Santa Maria. This museum is dedicated to the preserved body of a frozen ‘mummy’ named Juanita: the 12-year-old Inca girl sacrificed to the gods in the 1450s and now preserved in a glass refrigerator. We also took a tour of the Santa Catalina Monastery or the ‘Santa Catalina Convent’. This is a Monastery of nuns of the Dominican Second Order. Constructed in 1579 and made from ‘sillar”, a white volcanic stone sourcedlocally, the convent is considered the most important, impressive, and religious colonial structure in Arequipa.
Along our travels, we visited and learned about the historical Plaza De Armas. This is home to Arequipa’s cathedral and colonial buildings, with lots of great restaurants and cafes. We took a guided tour of a Peru manufacturing company called Art Atlas. They specialize in clothing and accessories which are made from natural fibres from Peru, such as alpaca and organic cotton. This company takes pride in the clothing they produce, to their high corporate social responsibility business model. They practice this by giving back to the communities and families of Peru.
Studying and travelling abroad is endlessly rewarding. The money I have spent on travel is money I have spent on experiences, and these cannot be substituted by material items. Having the opportunity to travel abroad with NSCC International has expanded my views and understanding of the world. Not only have I deepened my appreciation for the Peruvian culture and their country, but I have also became richer in knowledge, cross cultural communication, diversity and inclusion, and interpersonal skills. These are skills I will benefit from in the business world and for the rest of my life.
In the midst of it all, I have also made long lasting friendships and relationships with the students at ISUR and the women we have helped. This part of the program will always rest deep in my heart. Until next time, Peru.
Business Administration, Management Student
NSCC Cumberland Campus