May 24, 2017

Social Entrepreneur Corps Internship

Social Entrepreneur Corps

Soluciones Comunitarias campaign with water filter banner my team designed

Summer 2016 – Guatemala

Artifact: Centro Explorativo Flyer  (marketing material I created for after school program to attract more students)

In Summer 2016, from May to July, I interned with Social Entrepreneur Corps as part of the DukeEngage Guatemala program. There, I was assigned to one overarching marketing project and multiple side microconsulting projects for the community. As part of the program, we shifted to different locations in Guatemala every two weeks, and with each rotation, we were assigned a new community project.

The parent organization that Social Entrepreneur Corps worked with was Soluciones Comunitarias, which translates to “Community Solutions”. To give some background, Soluciones Comunitarias provides products that improve the daily lives of Guatemalans at a subsidized cost.

This summer, I was put on the marketing and branding team for Soluciones Comunitarias; my team was responsible for increasing the brand presence of Soluciones Comunitarias and improving marketing efforts for the four core products Soluciones Comunitarias sold in the Guatemalan community (efficient water filters, stoves, reading glasses, and solar lamps).

My team of 3 was directly responsible for the water filter product line, and after learning more about the dynamics of the Guatemalan community, as well as customer needs and reactions to different marketing efforts, we launched the “Visual Numbers” campaign (shown in the photo above). The aim of “Visual Numbers” was to visually show how much money could be saved in a year by purchasing a water filter versus by individual jugs of water.

In addition to my marketing project, I also worked with a restaurant to set up a nutritional health program for children, an after school program in Nebaj to engage more students, and a bee farmer to increase tourist traffic to his farm.

Reflection:

This internship was crucial in defining what social entrepreneurship means to me. Even though I had taken Social Innovation with Matt Nash in the year prior to this internship, it was a completely different experience to go into the field versus reading and hearing about social entrepreneurship in a classroom setting.

Mainly, my Social Innovation course had never prepared me for the challenge of language barriers. Perhaps the hardest part of my internship was the sheer difficulty of communicating to community partners and Guatemalan citizens because I had no background in Spanish. I eventually picked up enough basic Spanish (and memorized a good amount to quickly pitch on water filters) to get by, but I definitely felt pushed out of my comfort zone by not having the ease of language to guide me. However, this experience helped me understand that there will be unexpected roadblocks in the path of entrepreneurship, and I will have to find creative ways to address those challenges. Because I was not as involved in the speaking to customers portion, for example, I was able to learn more and be much more active in designing and creating marketing materials for campaign days (days in which Soluciones Comunitarias markets and sells its core products in a community space).

Overall, my summer with Social Entrepreneur Corps has encouraged me to think more about how I can apply social innovation to issues I see in my day-to-day life. I am incredibly thankful that I was able to partake in this journey.