Project Sacred Valley: Education and Entrepreneurship in Peru

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To address quality education and poverty with social entrepreneurship, Enactus Ryerson has created Project Sacred Valley. It has been a successful project, even winning the title of National Youth Empowerment at Enactus competition. As it is currently in the process of graduating, we decided to talk to Project Manager Aneesa Ramkay to find out more about Project Sacred Valley’s journey thus far along with her experience at Enactus’ competition.

Aneesa Ramkay is a fourth year Global Management Studies student at Ryerson University. This is her second year with Enactus Ryerson as a Project Manager for Project Sacred Valley.

What is Project Sacred Valley?

“Project Sacred Valley is a youth empowerment project. It’s about bringing education, but more importantly, choices to the youth in the Sacred Valley within Peru. Their lifestyle is obviously very different from ours. As well, their upbringing, their values, and their traditions [are different]. So what we wanted to do was take that in and encompass it, and create a solution that would allow them to still hold onto their values while also pursuing things that would bring them more entrepreneurial skills. Through that, we brought them education, certain things like accounting, entrepreneurship, human resources, things that are applicable to the markets that are around them. They have two choices: they can [either] go work in a different community or they can go work within the mines. What we wanted to do was give them more options. The second thing is empowering the youth to pursue education outside of grade 12. It starts really dense in the first couple of grades - there’s probably about 25 students in each class and as you go up to the high school grades between 9 and 11, it trickles off to almost about three. So we wanted to retain more of these youth through our program and through an integrated learning program including through a garden as well.”

What has been the most rewarding part of being a Project Manager for Project Sacred Valley?

“The most rewarding part was actually going to Peru and putting everything we’ve worked [on] into action. There’s action going on throughout the entire year, but [we’re] behind the scenes; [we] don’t get to see it. We got to meet the children and actually see their faces and the programs that we created and implemented. That was the most rewarding part, as we got to see it all come together, there is no words for it. It was absolutely amazing.”

What do you think is a common misconception about entrepreneurship and why?

“A common misconception is that you have to have a business idea. You don’t have to have a business idea to be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is [about] having the confidence, it’s having the grit, it’s having the wear with all, to pursue something that either you’re passionate about or just an idea that you think could make a difference in the world. It doesn’t have to be a new business idea. It can be anything. It’s cool to see that we’re doing social entrepreneurship, which is on the flip side of doing the business because we’re making changes in people's lives by being these consultants, by being these partners, that are helping them create a different life, choose a different path, and pave a new way for their future generations.”

Have you always been interested in project management?

“I actually have. Prior to joining [Enactus] as a Project Manager, I got to go to the Virgin Islands in the summer through Ryerson, through a program, and they asked me to make a five year business plan of where I see myself. That can be kinda tough if you haven’t thought about it. If you’ve thought about it - that’s awesome, but to actually put it on paper can be challenging. I kinda sat down and realized that project management is something that I am really interested in because I have skills that are applicable to bringing resources together and then making them into an end result. So I started to get really interested in it and when I saw that there was a Project Manager opening for Enactus, I was so excited about that; because I thought ‘hey that is a great opportunity to kinda dip my toes in something that I’ve always been really interested in, and to join a student group that I have really been interested in.’ So, it was a great kinda mix between the two, and I was really luck to get this position.”

What are some of your goals for PSV?

“Our goals by the end of the year are to continue to provide consulting services to our on ground friends in Peru. What they’re looking for right now is, we’ve bought a second piece of land with them to create organic quinoa. More importantly, they wanted to create a protein bar production facility. We had to wait three years for it to become certified organic and now it is, which is awesome. Yay! So now they're looking at ways that they can implement it into the protein bar production facility. We did a lot of research on this last year. And now, i’m helping them to get to where they need to be in terms of setting up the initial things. And that’s our goal by the end of the year - to help them get to the point where they’re able to actually start implementing the business plan.”

What is Enactus competition and how would you describe your competition experience?

“Enactus competition is a competition against all the schools in Canada, and then hopefully worldwide. You get to present on the projects that are currently being implemented within your branch. You get to choose between different roles [when joining]. I personally chose the presenter role. What you’re doing is you’re making either a five minute or a 17 minute presentation to showcase your accomplishments and to even showcase your hardships if you went through it. It’s just to show how you’ve made a difference in the world within the year; which is the coolest part because it’s this year. The numbers you end up seeing, the impact you end up seeing, is absolutely phenomenal.

My personal experience was great. We won Nation Youth Empowerment. So, now Project Sacred Valley is the number one youth empowerment project in Canada currently; which is super cool to say.”

How do you think being a project manager helped you grow as a person?

As a Project Manager, it’s been an interesting journey to juggle something that is not school or work related on the side. So right now, I’m working and I’m going to school full-time but I also have this project on the side as well. It’s nice to have something that you’re really, really passionate about, that you chose to do. When I am planning my time [PSV] it’s something that I am always really excited [for], whenever I have a meeting, or whenever I have work to do for the project because I know that whatever we put into it, we get back; in terms of effort and seeing the difference you’re making in other people’s lives. That’s invaluable I believe.”


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Interview by:

Emma Young-Buchalter

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Edited by:

Jenny Bang