Sucre (3rd time) and Potosí mardi, Avr 8 2008 

From 14th to 17th of February I had to travel to Sucre. The reason of that was simple, people were asking for me. If you remember well (if not, just check out the blog “Job’s stories” section) a part of my job is to help some cooperatives in Chuquisaca that produces pork and chicken by doing market study. A few months ago, when I got here, those 2 productions were just beginning and it didn’t have that much information to help he in my work. However, since then situation changed and the responsible of those coop. wanted to meet me to pass me all the information that is requested to do a better job. Also, a the last minute, my boss asked me to help him by preparing a 1,5 days formation on good governance and democratic management in cooperative. That formation was part of a formation plan for AGROCENTRAL, the central of agriculture coop. in Chuquisaca. After preparing the formation I had to participate in it as a formatter. So, it was really interesting experience ‘coz I never before did this king of formation, I never did formation in Spanish and it was the first time that I was working directly with the members of coop. So, I say it again, it was really a nice experience and the people told that I was not that bad!

Also, I did enjoy that opportunity (my last one there I think) to pass another week-end in Sucre to visit what I couldn’t see yet and go visit Potosí that is at 2,5 hours from the capital city. This was my original plan, but since a damned salad in a café put me really sick on that Sunday, I just when to visit Potosí and now I hope to have another occasion to go to Sucre and finish to see what I wanted. So let’s concentrate on Potosí.

Potosí, during the Spanish colony, was for a time the biggest city of the world in term of population. Also, the legend says that the Spanish did dig so much silver from the mountain beside the city that they could build a silver bridge to Europe! So, Potosí is miner city and the highest city of the Earth (4200 m). Also, it’s a colonial city with a lot of building and church that has more than 200, 300, 400 and even 500 years old!!! Witch is bad about Potosí is that since the mining industry is down, the city is getting poorer. So I went there to gather with 2 others cooperant friend, visit with them a mine and the first place in Bolivia where they began to do the money, la Casa de Moneda. That building was impressive but what was the most impressive is the visit of a miner cooperative. That visit was not king of tour that you can describe as tourism ‘coz those king of mine are so exploited as it was in the colony that it is hard to see. The miners’ conditions of working (and we should say life ‘coz a miner can work until 16 hours a day) are terrible. For nothing I would go back there as a tourist. Not that I want to escape from that reality but more for respect for those miners that we are going to see their life. I say that ‘coz really I’m happy that I could have seen the reality of the miners that we try to help. I say tray because we are trying right now to develop some miner’s project.

So, this travel was really rich in experience and I think it will stay as one of the best on a professional and a personal way.

Here you’ll find the pictures :

Where is Charlie? No! Where are the coop.? lundi, Avr 7 2008 

Well I didn’t give you news about my work for a long time so now it’s time for some update. First, since March 29th I’m officially a consultant and I’m glad about it. But what does that change? Well, except my salary, not that much! Really, even if I have that new contract my work didn’t change. So, I’m still doing the organizational diagnostic of some organisations here. Recently I finished those of CONCOBOL (Bolivian’s Confederation of Cooperatives) and FEBOCAC (Bolivian’s Federation of Cooperatives of Credit). So, on this side I have only one more to do with a central of coop. that produce quinua. That diagnostic is really more interesting ‘coz it’s an organization more organised than the 2 firsts organisations that I was working for and it’s also closer to the base. Sadly, work doesn’t go that fast since I’m well implicated in the national diagnostic of the coop. that we are also doing (more details down in this text).

Then, what am I doing? Well, like at the beginning of my contract with the oregano, I still have 2 others market study to do for AGROCENTRAL, the coop.’s central of agriculture of the department of Chuquisaca, for 2 new projects : pork’s and chicken’s production. What I like from those market study is that there is nothing to do with what we use to learn at university (useless blab bla bla about a market). No, those studies are really connected with the ground searching to who is buying, at what price, in what quantity, with witch king of characteristics, etc. So I like this king of work and I’ll do it as soon as I finish my work with the diagnostics.

Finally, I’m implicated in the national diagnostic of coop. that we are doing. To understand that work I have to come back a little bit in the past. In April 2007 we began our new 5 years program in Bolivia. In this new program it is planed to work with the representation’s organisations of coop. (like central, federation and confederation) and the government (true de General direction of cooperatives). So, with those actors and during this first year we planed to evaluate the whole coop. movement in Bolivia to orientate our work for the next 4 years. In this sense we are doing right now a diagnostic of all the coop. of the country. What does that mean? Well, an team of consultant are doing visits to all the coop. in all the department of Bolivia. Myself, I’m visiting all the coop. in the departments of Pando and Beni. Those 2 departments are the 2 regions less developed of Bolivia on the transportation infrastructure. It is also for that reason that those 2 departments have less coop. and population than the other regions of the country. So I went once in Beni to begin the work from March 23rd to 30th (here is the link for the pictures : and this Tuesday April 8 I’m going to Cobija, Pando, to do the work there and than finish what I began in Beni. I should leave for 15 days.

I really like this work since it put me in relation with the basic organisation, the coop., and that I have the opportunity to chat with the members and the administrators of those organisations. It really changes from my work in La Paz and also gives a chance to visit some places that even the Bolivians don’t use to know!

New contract… but as a consultant now! vendredi, Mar 7 2008 

Yep! Another time I’ll stay longer than supposed in Bolivia (even if my girlfriend begins to get tired of that!… and I totally understand her). So, a few weeks ago my 2 boss asked if I could stay another 3 months but not as inter in a CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) but as a consultant!!!! (I remind you that I’m here as an intern in a CIDA program for young professional that never worked for salary in his field outside of the country).Well, even if they offered to me that new contract a few weeks ago, nothing was official ‘coz we were waiting to get confirmed other founds from the CIDA, answer that we got lately. So now everything is official so in April I’ll be a consultant in cooperative development and commercial development (it’s the title I guess I’ll have but you know that titles don’t mean that much!). I’m very happy and for first time in my life I’ll get pay as my diploma should be. Also, for the first time in my life I won’t be anymore in the poverty’s statistics! And I’ll even be able to pay my dept!!!

Good new mercredi, Nov 7 2007 

Since last Thursday (November 1st 2007) I know that my contract in Bolivia will be longer than supposed. So, I’ll work here until March 28 instead of January 7. These 3 additional months will be 3 months of work (and salary!), 3 additional months to go to the mountain, 3 more months to discover the country. The only thing that is little bad it’s that I will have to be away another 3 months of my girlfriend. But, I hope really hard that she can come visit me during Christmas vacation.

Not enough time and A few job’s stories mardi, Nov 6 2007 

Section « Boring news »

Not enough time

It is true that I haven’t written so much in these past weeks. The reason is pretty simple, I’m busier with all my Bolivian’s activities, and with principal is work but also my trekking in mountains, so I have less time to write. Also, after being here for 4 months I begin to get use to my new life and I begin to have a routine. So for these reasons I have less adventure to tell and what was so new at the beginning begins to be normal.

Section « Job’s story »

Being with Jocelyne Chagnon or How to improvise himself as translator and tourist guide

3 weeks ago had arrived Jocelyn Chagnon from the Cooperative Direction of Québec. This lady where here on her personal time but gave generously of her times to give some presentations to the principal actors of the cooperative movement in Bolivia to exchange on the Quebec’s experience and structure of the movement. So, for that “mission” I improvised myself as translator and tourist guide! Since the lady was not speaking Spanish, all her presentations needed to be translated. So, when my boss could assist at some presentation, it was I that was translating it. Interesting experience.

Then, to thanks Miss Chagnon for her time, I went with her on my work time to some interesting tourist’s sites like Tiwanaku, Titicaca Laze (Sun Island) and Coroici. So that’s why I say that I was a tourist guide for her! I that time too it was interesting ‘coz I could join work and travel!

Organizational diagnostics

Because of that mission, the last weeks were not that productive on my regular work (combine with formatting my computer), witch is the organizational diagnostic of the principal actors of the cooperative movement in Bolivia. Than, this week and probably the following one will be dedicated to this exercise. In fact, since my boss from Québec was here, I focus on this work since we would like to finish it at the end of November (an ideal). It is really interesting ‘coz I can know more about the cooperative sector especially in microfinance. Also, it is directly related with my studies.

A few interesting results

But before I concentrate on that last point, I finish my market study on oregano that I was doing since a few weeks. And what is really grateful in this work is that doing the analysis, we discover that the market of oregano in La Paz, and more generally in all the country, is really interesting for a secondary product that didn’t have any commercial value before (to give an idea of how big is the market, only in La Paz the is for more than 30 000$ of sales and this amount of money is REALLY BIG for Bolivia). So it is really motivating to see those concrete results.

Avec, Con, With Jocelyn Chagnon: En photos, Fotografías, With pictures lundi, Oct 29 2007 

Voici le lien pour les photos :

Aquí en vínculo para las fotografías:

Here the link for the pictures:

Focus mercredi, Sep 19 2007 

There is a long time since I wrote on what I do pretty all the time, witch means working. Also, since the last time that wrote on the subject (see my article of July), a lot of thing got clearer and even changed since that time. So, know what am I doing? Well, I’m doing right now organizational diagnostic of organisations in 2 sectors: microfinance and agriculture. Also, I’m finishing the market study on oregano for the UNEC and I might in the future participate in the evaluation of the entire cooperative sector. Also, if I have time I’ll do other study market for AGROCENTRAL, the agriculture coop. central of Chuquisaca. I know that in the first article that I wrote I was saying that I was supposed to do some formation in fair trade, organic certification and international commerce but recently, after an evaluation of my work with my 2 superiors, we decided to focus my mandate here. So there it is for my job.

Tomina vendredi, Août 17 2007 

Voici le lien pour les photos:

Aquí la dirección Internet para las fotografías:

Here the link for the pictures:

Inauguration at Tomina vendredi, Août 17 2007 

This week I was in Sucre for the inauguration of new oregano’s plant in Tomina, a small village at 3 hours from Sucre. The way to go was really beautiful and really representative of Bolivia’s geography. The village too was great with his place, church and city hall. Since I’m doing a market study on that, it was really interesting to be there and understand all the production chain of the oregano’s growing. However, speaking with some producer and technician, we could understand all the work that was put in that project since the beginning to get to the construction of that brand new plant. The plant is really beautiful, clean with all the modern equipment, something really rare for that region. So, it was really great to be there and see on of the reason why we do this work.

This is what I do vendredi, Juil 27 2007 

Lately I told you that I would be giving more details about my job in Bolivia. So, after being a month here I can tell you more about what will be my work to do here.

For the next weeks my job is divided in 4 levels: working with the government, working with the nacional federation, working with some of the central of coop. and working with the project in Sucre.

With the government, I will mostly help them with the modification of the actual law of coop. Also, I will hepl them in riding a law and reglementations of the financial sector (credit and save coop.).

With the national federation and the centrals of coop., our goal is to pick some of most significative organisation to reinforce them and turn them into example for the other kings of organisation in Bolivia. More specific, we will evaluate all the org. to see what their strenght is and what it their weakness. After all, we will plan the intervention that will be needed. For the federation, we will work with the national federation in the financial sector, FEBOCAC. For the centrals, we will help CECAOT that produce quinoa in Potosi, EL CEIBO that does cocoa and other products in Yunga, La Paz, CISC that is in the milk industry in Cochabamba and the departmental federation of La Paz in the financial sector.

At the end, we will still help AGROCENTRAL and UNEC that is 2 org. that we help since a long time. Most of the work there will be marketing and formations in fair-trade, organic certification and international trade.

So, I have a lot of work to do… I don’t think that I will be bored!