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By Gwyn Nichols '17
Not many courses simultaneously advance your education, grow your career, and help entrepreneurs in struggling countries amidst beautiful scenery, but Thunderbird’s Emerging Markets Laboratory (TEM Lab) does all that. Five Thunderbird students (Dell Chaakrapani, Naveen Chennubhotla, Jonathan Krupko, Meng Liu and Danny Pickett) were selected to provide pro-bono business consulting for 20 Guatemala companies, partnering with Business Council for Peace/Bpeace. This year, the team not only participated in the consulting program, but there was also a $1,000 prize given away to one of the Guatemalan companies!
This was the second year that Thunderbird has worked with Bpeace, a natural partnership because of compatible missions. Thunderbird was founded to prevent conflict through international trade, and Bpeace’s mission is to create more jobs in countries impacted by conflict and violence while increasing employment and increasing the number of successful women entrepreneurs. Bpeace has been hugely successful.
“55% of the entrepreneurs who have participated with Bpeace since 2004 are still engaged and in business, 100% of them are generating income, 93% are self-sustaining, 54% maintained employment levels and 32% posted job growth.” --bpeace.org
Each day TEM Lab members met with two businesses from a wide range of industries, from manufacturing restaurant salt packets, cosmetics, or pharmaceuticals to web design and promotional printing. The team helped entrepreneurs complete SWOT analyses, establish realistic goals, and plan marketing strategies. Stephany Gonzalez, Bpeace’s Country Manager for Guatemala, praised the partnership with Thunderbird because students “are great and have skills in global management.”
“Our clients are really appreciative of the vision and knowledge of the Thunderbirds. The TEM Lab students have a great impact on the future business of our clients.” --Stephany Gonzalez, Bpeace’s Country Manager for Guatemala
One of the highlights of the experience was a “Pitch Your Business” competition. As founder and CEO of Launchers Inc., a company that helps startups launch their businesses, TEM Lab member Danny Pickett decided to award $1,000 to the company with the best pitch. The winner was Rolando Reyes with Ka’Kaw, a line of beauty products made from locally grown cocoa beans. The quality of the presentations was so impressive, two other TEM Lab members Dell and Naveen awarded a second-place winner $500 and a third-place winner with $200. Second place was David and Oshi de Farchi from Quinfica. They are a Guatemalan company dedicated to caring for the health and wellbeing of their community and their partners by providing quality raw materials for supplements and food products. The third-place winner was Ricardo Romualdo from Batz, a clothing manufacturing company.
TEM Lab members volunteered for this elective opportunity hoping to learn, apply, and help others, and they were personally and professionally impacted beyond measure. They expected a once-in-a-lifetime experience and returned driven to stay involved with programs such as Bpeace, maybe even creating partnerships with them.
This is a priceless experience and incredibly rewarding for everyone involved—one of the best ways Thunderbirds can fulfill the mission of becoming “global leaders who create sustainable prosperity worldwide.”