By C. Taylor Brown — In February of this year, a small group of William Jewell College students traveled to Honduras to provide business advice to the Patronato (village council) of Embarcadero. Embarcadero is a village of about 100 residents and 18 families. On previous trips, students at Jewell helped clean the village well system and construct latrines, as well as buying and helping the villagers to install stoves in every home.
This time the villagers were passionate about creating a Tienda de Consumo, essentially a variety store. Since residents have no cars, this variety store would serve as a local outlet for products transported from nearby cities that are too distant for frequent visits. Additionally, residents envision the Tienda de Consumo as a marketplace for locally produced corn, beans and other locally raised and produced goods.
The Jewell team began by organizing a meeting with the Patronato to brainstorm the project, identify needed products, desired costs, and operational requirements. With guidance from the Jewell team, another group of business students from nearby CURLA (Centro Universitario Regional del Litoral Atlantico) have begun assembling the necessary components for the creation of a business plan that will be produced by a joint effort.
The Jewell student consultants and members of the Patronato have estimated an initial startup cost for the store of approximately $5,000. The Jewell chapter of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity has pledged all proceeds (estimated $2,500) from their annual Battle of the Air Bands event to support the startup, and additional initiatives are being considered to help raise additional funding.
Nate Chastain, a senior at William Jewell, was one of the students who journeyed to Embarcadero and engaged the villagers. “The purpose of this project was to assist the villagers in pursuing an opportunity to improve their community. Our main focus was to act as catalysts as the villagers develop realistic ideas and business plans surrounding important local projects”, said Chastain.
The Honduras project provides Jewell business students with important insights into the conditions, needs, and opportunities of impoverished communities. When asked how this trip impacted him as business student, Chastain said, “As a business major, this trip has been incredibly beneficial. I’ve had the chance to engage with Honduran students and discuss business plan concepts, as well as converse with Embarcadero residents about their own business and community ambitions.”