In early March, a team of ten volunteers from the economic development sector launched the first national business workshop for Paraguayan entrepreneurs. Planning for CRECE (Colaboración Regional de Educación Comunitario Empresarial) began in August and culminated in a free, three-day workshop that reviewed the following concepts:
- Team dynamics
- Leadership styles & management
- Inventory control methods (to my excitement included LIFO, FIFO and Average Cost methods)
- Pricing strategy
- Market research
- Risk management
Our team brought in guest speakers from Producción Paraguayo (a 3-year project sponsored by USAID) and COOPEDUC (a large, local cooperative). However, volunteers planned and facilitated a majority of the workshop’s activities.
The single greatest challenge in pulling off an event like CRECE was communication. In-person meetings were difficult to arrange because volunteers on the steering committee lived as far as 8-hours away from the capital. Online meetings were challenging for several reasons: no electricity due to a recent storm, no computer, bad internet connection, etc. Phone calls worked, but were only effective if only two people needed to participate in the meeting, which was rarely the case. The communication barriers were small reminders that we were in fact working in a developing nation.
The greatest achievement for my city occurred when my community participant told me that he wanted copies of the workshop materials to distribute to others in my site that would benefit from the knowledge that was shared. I trust that he was not the only participant at the end of the workshop advocating change. Whether the information covered at CRECE was shared with a community or encouraged a single entrepreneur to start documenting debits and credits at his/her own business, it is change nonetheless.
Visit the CRECE website to view additional photos of the event.