In January 2017, ten students, one faculty member, and one Mizzou alumna, traveled to Nicaragua on a project to consult with a women’s coffee cooperative. For more details on their global trip, check out Part 1, 3 and 4. The following is a reflection from Morgan Steward, one of the participants.
Work Hard and Persevere
When I became a member of the Crosby MBA program last fall, I was excited to gain a deep understanding of business along with the opportunity to obtain a global perspective. Due to the large growth in globalization in companies and my interest in international business, I was drawn to Mizzou. I realized that it provided great opportunities to expand one’s thinking in not only how to run an effective business domestically but internationally. With that said, when I became aware of the consulting trip coordinated by our program to Nicaragua, I was ecstatic for the opportunity!
Prior to the trip, my classmates and I prepared with limited knowledge of the co-op and high hopes of success for the company. We knew we would be working with a women’s cooperative in a rural community called Santa Julia. Many in the group did not have over a 5th grade education, and all came from tough backgrounds such as abuse and poverty. Although the women spoke Spanish, we would have translators to help aid our communication. In terms of the company itself, we were aware of a few problems the cooperative had been dealing with such as accounting practices to keep track of their sales, profits, and inventory. Also, the co-op needed equipment evaluations for future investments and improving production. We agreed that it was additionally important to document all our findings so that future global MBA groups would have a business case to refer to. During our preparation, the traveling team split into three groups that focused on accounting, equipment, and documentation. I chose to be a part of the accounting group.
After a rigorous period of learning the coffee-making process, and investigating on what improvements could be made, we came up with solid numbers. Not only were we able to help create a successful accounting system, but also production charts, scenarios, and design a tracking system for the whole co-op to use!
While in Nicaragua, we were also given the opportunity to interact with the people of Santa Julia which was one of my favorite things to do. Not only was I able to practice my Spanish, but I was able to get a better understanding of the culture and experiences that the people had in the community. Many would say things like, “as we learn a little bit from you, you can learn a little from us.” That I certainly did. I saw women who didn’t have much but gave as if they had plenty. I saw close knit community members looking out for one another, family or not. I saw determination in overcoming adversities to provide daily necessities such as food, water, and shelter. One of my favorite quotes comes from Eloísa del Carmen Garcia Castro, President of the cooperative, “I was born poor, and I’ll die poor, so I want to help others in between.” These women amazed me with their strong desire to put others before themselves. I was very encouraged by the things the women taught me, and left inspired to love, give, and relentlessly persevere more.
In addition to working with the co-op, and learning about their culture, I was also able to learn about Panorama Service Expeditions (PSE), the non-profit organization that connected us to the cooperative. I was able to sit down with the owner of PSE and many of the employees to learn what it would take to own my own service-oriented business, another one of my future aspirations!
I was surprised how many experiences we were able to have outside of working with the co-op and learning about international business. Outside of seeing the community of Santa Julia, we were additionally able to visit volcanoes, city markets, watch traditional Nicaraguan Dancers, travel on the largest lake in Nicaragua, and even participate in an ancient Mayan sauna! I am so grateful for the opportunity, memories, and adventures, and am excited for what is next to come during my time getting an MBA!
Morgan Steward is a first-year Crosby MBA student pursing a focus in International Business & Entrepreneurship with a certificate in non-profit management. He is a former student-athlete and member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee. He now serves as a graduate assistant within the Athletic Department where he assists with student-athlete financial aid and is head of the student-athlete opportunity fund.