[Note to readers: My plan is to gracefully pass over that 2 year gap that was my Darden experience, just for ease of transition really. I’m happy to talk about all things business school in a different venue, if you are interested in my thoughts, learnings, etc. Moving forward, the purpose and function of this blog will be the following:
- Chronicle my experiences and learnings during my work, and in Colombia in general
- Retain a somewhat-articulate grasp of the English language
- Have a central repository of the basics, so that when I DO actually connect with friends and family, I don’t have to repeat the same details on my end (so self-serving, I know!)
- And finally, lure visitors to this fine country. See you all soon.]
First, let’s cover the basics: What am I actually doing in Bogotá?
My employer in Bogotá is BizCorps, a US-based nonprofit that places recently graduated MBAs with growing companies in developing countries. BizCorps was founded by Rob Mosbacher Jr., former head of OPIC, a federal organization tasked with “mobilizing private capital to help solve critical development challenges.” Through his tenure there, Rob learned that the real constraint to addressing these challenges was not capital flows, but human capital – access to highly trained managers who bring knowledge of best practices and global markets. He mobilized around this central learning and created an organization to fill this need – hence, BizCorps. In country, we operate as long-term consultants, embedded in our placement companies for about a year, working to diagnose and address a variety of issues (more on our clients & this process later).
By the numbers: 6 of us comprise BizCorps’ 2nd cohort in Colombia, hailing from 5 different American universities and 4 different countries. BizCorps also operates in Kenya, based in Nairobi (Nick and Heather are both blogging from Nairobi, if you want to keep up with that side of the world too).
My client is Fruandes, an organic, fair trade dried fruit company that exports 96% of it’s product to Canada & Europe (& a little to the US). They have sold out their planned production through most of 2015, and are looking to expand their capacity (& rethink their operations strategy) by likely moving out from Bogota. I’m helping them with this process by both assessing the feasibility a relocation and of new possible locations, while then working to build processes that will make them less-reliant on individual’s knowledge and save time and money as they grow.
All you have to do is google ‘Colombia turnaround’, or something of the like, to be introduced to the loads of literature recently published on the subject of Colombia’s emergence on the world stage. Some recent free trade agreements have boosted this too.
Here is a sample of how Colombia is performing in what someone-who-has-a-website called the “Top 10 Growth Markets in Latin America”:
- TV sales in Colombia will go up by 30% in 2014
- Pets market: average annual growth of 13%
- Cosmetics: grew 31%, 2011-13
- Hotel rooms under construction in Colombia: 2,805
- Luxury boat sales: up 27%, 2009-13
Also, if you’ve never played around on Google’s Public Data Tool, it’s pretty fun:
GDP growth rate