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.”


Want to find out more about Enactus Ryerson and Project Sacred Valley?

Like Enactus Ryerson on Facebook.

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Interview by:

Emma Young-Buchalter

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Edited by:

Jenny Bang

 
 

All About Restore: Affordable, Sustainable, and Eco-friendly Housing!

An interview with Restore's Project Manager

An interview with Restore's Project Manager

Enactus Ryerson is comprised of a variety of projects, created by students, which aim to make a difference to the communities and the students we work with. We want to share with you more information about our projects and show you how we empower others, so we sat down with Project Manager Anthony Garcia to find out everything you need to know about Restore and his journey so far.

 

Anthony Garcia, a fourth year Accounting and Finance student at Ryerson University, founded Restore in 2017, and has since been working with Enactus Ryerson, Ryerson University, and the Social Ventures Zone to grow and raise awareness on the housing crisis in Indigenous reserves.

 

What is Restore?

“Restore is a social venture that aims to tackle the housing crisis in Canada. We are currently working on trying to alleviate the housing issues on Indigenous reserves. What a lot of people don’t know is that 1 in 5 Indigenous people live in homes that are overcrowded, mold infested, and just unsafe to live in. Restore is a company that helps to bring affordable houses, but also couples it with construction training, and different transferable skills; so that people are well equipped to maintain the homes as they live, and to ensure that they not only have these opportunities to a house, but they also have these different skills that they can put towards their own lives and better their entire lives altogether.”

 

How did the idea for Restore come about?

“The idea for Restore came when we were put in contact with a community here in Ontario called the Mississauga New Credit First Nation, where we had the initial meeting to talk about how Enactus could help them with their different issues. The concept of housing kept coming up, and then we started to really talk about how bad the housing is on different Indigenous reserves across Canada. Together, we started figuring out different ways to figure out a faster, more affordable solution. Hearing about the different trends about how people are using shipping containers to create all of these really cool, innovative structures – we looked into it, we had constant meetings with the reserves to see if this was something that was of interest, something that works with the community and different people. Slowly, we started crafting Restore, our different business models, and figuring out what it is exactly that we wanted out of this project and that’s how it came together.”

 

What do you do as a project manager?

“As a project manager the main thing is keeping the relationships with our different partners. We’re currently working with a number of partners; we have Giant Containers, which is our main supplier of different shipping container structures. We’re also working with Ryerson University, Enactus, and George Brown College. So, a big part (of being a project manager) is keeping the communication with all our different partners, but also ensuring that the vision and the goals of the company is followed through, and to making sure that all the tasks we have are being done by all our members; making sure everybody has all the tools and resources that they need to complete all the different tasks. It’s also a lot of creating different ways on how to move forward, how to tackle this issue in different ways that it hasn’t been tackled before, figuring out how where governments are going wrong, where they are going right and figuring out how we can really nail this issue at the roots – just to ensure that you know these people are living a proper life.”

 

Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?

“No. I originally wanted to be an architect, and then when I got into Ryerson, I started studying finance, so I wanted to be a financial consultant or a strategic consultant. I don’t know how I ended up with entrepreneur – I think it was Enactus, just being more involved with creating your own things, not listening to people, and just doing it. That’s kind of what made me want to be an entrepreneur, which I never thought I’d say because I always thought entrepreneurship was something really scary, something for people who like risks, people who are okay with failing, which I’m not – I’m really scared, really shy. I prefer being at home just listening to someone tell me what to do, but, somehow, I ended up liking that feeling of creating something and feeling that you made something instead of just being a little pawn and working for someone.”

 

What was the hardest challenge with getting restore off the ground?

“The biggest challenge was to get people to take me seriously. A lot of people don’t take you seriously when you’re a student trying to do something; mostly when you’re trying to provide people houses. Since I’m not really a handsy person, I don’t think I could lift something up and put a house or something together, so it’s really hard to get people to take me seriously. Also, we’re trying to work with Indigenous communities, and the hardest thing is to connect with these people because you don’t fully understand exactly what it is that they’re going through. The way we overcame that is to partner with different companies and different people who are experts at what they do to ensure that we have those spaces covered. The other part that’s an ongoing obstacle that we’re still trying to figure out is how to properly connect with these different communities, how to ensure that we never overstep – that we’re always including them in everything and just to really ensure that you know that connection is there and to ensure that we do everything in the proper way that it should be done.”

 

What’s something you think you could improve on as a project manager and entrepreneur?

“I think the biggest thing is communication. I’ve always been a very shy, very reserved person. I think as time is going on I’m getting a little bit better; it’s easier to talk to people, and I think that’s something I’m constantly working on; public speaking and talking one on one with different people. That’s something that I can work on and continue to work on because as an entrepreneur, as anybody, you need to have proper communication skills, especially in this age when everything’s about communication, who you know, how you know them, and how you connect with people.”
 

What has been the most rewarding part of being a project manager for Restore?

“I think the most rewarding moment was presenting for the McCain Social Enterprise Accelerator Challenge. It was the first time that we ever kind of talked about our idea to these big, important industry people. Getting that feedback and having everybody really into it, and liking the idea, we moved past the first round. We ended up not winning, but we came in second place, which was really rewarding. I wanted to win of course, but the fact that we came in second and there’s people that believed in us, believed in what we’re trying to do – it was amazing to see, to be on that stage and have all these people look at us and be excited about what we’re doing, think that it’s something that could be done and completely support us; that was really exciting.”

 

Want to find out more about Enactus Ryerson and Restore Housing?

Like Restore and Enactus Ryerson on Facebook.

Follow Restore and Enactus Ryerson on Instagram.

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Interview by: