International Business

After eight very interesting weeks at the Municipal Government of Tena, my internship has ended. As if they were all waiting for my departure, most of my department took off for a vacation the same day I left. My internship answered many questions for me and also raised a few new ones. During my time there I realized that I was much more interested in the commerce of the Amazon than the government. My internship introduced me to many aspiring businesspeople as well as established successes. A few small business owners quietly confided that Ecuador does not have enough of a market for their mid to high level merchandise, but had no idea how and where to export. I had many conversations with these owners, and the career path I had always tentatively envisioned for myself (working for a non-profit) gave way to the exciting possibilities in the world of business. What I have seen as a trend for non-profits is to focus on the very poor. That is where the need is greatest and of course should be the priority group, but in looking at lower-middle class small business owners (there are a large amount in the Amazon) I saw that there was little help available to them, and I expect that is a trend across the developing world. Many never went to college and with the groups I talked to, there was a consensus that they wanted to expand their businesses but did not know logistically how to do it. Lack of knowledge, not money, was their principle problem. Unfortunately, I know very little about international shipping, so I could not help them; but their problem is one that will stick with me, and in the future, maybe I can. They are in need of mentorship and advice from an established international businessman. Maybe this is the just the combination of non-profit and business I was looking for after all.

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