A group of 16 students and at least two faculty members from Wake Forest University and the Babcock Graduate School of Management will share their skills with Nicaraguan business owners while learning about business outside the classroom during spring break.
The March 7-14 trip will be the fourth made by Babcock students in a little more than a year and marks the one-year anniversary of the first business seminar held in Managua as part of the school’s ongoing Project Nicaragua. The students’ goal for this trip is to “scale up,” according to the project’s faculty adviser Sherry Moss.
“They are going to offer two simultaneous business seminars, making it possible to keep the intimate classroom environment, but serving twice as many people,” she said. “They are also going to work one-on-one with several of the returning participants before and after the seminar in an effort to sharpen their consulting skills while helping the entrepreneurs with their specific challenges.”
Chris Yuko, a Babcock student, is one of the project’s founders and the Nicaragua program director. He has been based in Managua for the past year and helps make the trip arrangements for the other students and faculty members. The two seminars will allow the students to work with 40 Nicaraguan business leaders.
“We are very proud of the impact we have had on these business leaders,” Yuko said. “Now we desire to take it to the next level and find a way to quantify the impact we are having. We are looking to establish a video conference center in our partner organization’s office here in Managua. This will allow us more continued direct contact with the network of businesses. Student teams at Wake Forest will be able to speak directly with their businesses and continue the two-way learning and transfer of knowledge that takes place during the trips to Nicaragua.”
This trip also marks the passing of the baton as the original student leaders turn over their responsibilities to a new crop of Babcock students. More than 30 individuals at Babcock are currently working on the project that was started in the fall of 2006 by several Babcock students who wanted to make a difference.
“Project Nicaragua allows students to learn that we, as future business leaders, have a responsibility to society,” explained Neela Rajendra, a second-year Babcock student who is making her second trip to Nicaragua. “These experiences can’t be duplicated in the classroom. The impact that we have on the Nicaraguan business owners is small; the impact they have on us is much greater.”
Moss praised the students for creating a sustainable business model for the student-driven project. “The students who originally started the project have put together a way of bringing in the new people and having them lead the next trip,” she said.
In addition to the business seminars, the students plan to launch their first children’s activity day at La Chureca, the city dump, which is home to approximately 1,500 people, more than half of whom are younger than 18. “The students are collecting donated supplies to give to the school there and are putting together a short program of activities that will include a craft, story time and possibly games,” Moss said.
Related articles and information
- Read the Project Nicaragua blog by Chris Yuko
- Learn more about Project Nicaragua
- Listen to an interview by 88.5 WFDD's LeShea Agnew as she discusses the December 2007 trip to Central America with MBA students Megan Glaser and Jayson Johnson, two of the leaders of the ongoing Nicaragua Project.