1st Place!

Today was the small business competition for training, and my group got first place!

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There were six teams and our jelly brought home the gold for San Juan de Oriente. The competition was stiff too. The other products were:

  • Natural soap
  • Cuatro Leches Cupcakes (kind of like a dulce de leche flavored very moist cupcake)
  • Tortilla Española
  • Paintings inspired by the pre-Columbian petroglyphs of Nicaragua
  • Peanut Butter

Ever product was good, without a doubt. The paintings were really nice, the soap was packaged beautifully (just in time for Mothers’ Day down here, I might add to their credit) and the cupcakes were delicious. The only thing I didn’t get to try was the tortilla Española (I’m not an eggs guy anyway). What put the jelly over the top was a combination of factors, but I think what was most important was how our kids seamlessly linked the product to the culture of Nicaragua. They took inspiration for the name of their jelly from a Rubén Darío poem, “Del Trópico,” which perfectly encapsulates the tropical essence of the fruits we selected for our jellies. The poem has six stanzas, and we had five kids presenting, so each kid started their portion of the presentation by reciting a stanza, and then they all read the last stanza together to conclude our presentation.

We’re most proud of our little jelly entrepreneurs because we had the youngest group. There were participants as old as 25, but all of our kids were in either seventh or eighth grade.

Our kids also took home a pretty purse. Margins on their jelly are roughly 50%, so the kids have more than 1,000 Cordóba to their name (I haven’t done the final bookkeeping yet, but for your knowledge $1 = 25 Cordóba, so that’s around $40, which goes a long way down here). They now have an important decision to make. Do they want to keep the business going or take the money and run? Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if they decided to call it quits. They are all still in school and running and growing a jelly business is no small task. I would be just as happy if they took home the money and the lessons they learned. But if they decide to keep it going I’ll do as much as I can to help them long distance from León (for anyone’s who is wondering, to get from San Juan de Oriente to León it is a one hour bus ride to Managua, a taxi ride to a different bus terminal, and then a one and a half hour ride up to León).

Training is pretty much done for us. I had my final language interview on Tuesday and I am now “Advanced – Low”, which is a great accomplishment and I am very happy about. Hopefully when I leave Nicaragua I will have advanced a few more levels. Yesterday we had our “Readiness to Serve” presentation, which I already expressed my feelings about. Honestly, my group’s was terrible, but no one seems to care. I blame Ryan for having to go to Managua because he got a “virus” and missing the presentation. All we have left in training are a bunch of talks about all sorts of topics, a visit to the US Embassy next Thursday, and our Swearing-In ceremony on Friday. By next Sunday, I’ll be in León permanently.

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