15 years of Esade Alumni Social
Jaume Aller (Lic&MBA 03) on how economic development can have a positive impact on developing communities
How did you come to collaborate with Esade Alumni Social?
For many years, I worked for a company that developed international projects in Asia, Africa and South America. After a career change, I had more work flexibility and more time for myself, so I was able to focus on some unfinished business: solidarity. Through Esade Alumni, I learned about the collaborations being carried out with third-sector organisations and companies in developing countries. In 2011, I did my first pro bono consulting project, supporting a strategic reflection plan for Teléfono de la Esperanza, an NGO that provides care services to people in crisis situations.
You started with a local collaboration. Then what?
That experience prompted me to learn more about other Esade-backed projects, such as Together, which focuses on international cooperation. In early 2018, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Esade Alumni Social on a project linked to Oxfam Intermón and its “Businesses That Change Lives” programme, working on the development of a company that processes and distributes organic peanuts in Cochabamba, in central Bolivia.
It is incredibly satisfying to help people have better lives through economic development that reaches everyone.
A fair trade cooperative?
APROMAM is made up of more than 200 peanut producers, all family-run. Their output is exported on the basis of a firm commitment to high-quality, organic farming. APROMAM cuts out the middleman, ensures that the families are paid a fair price for their crops and helps them stabilise their income.
Is a month enough time to develop a project?
These consultancy projects can be complicated in terms of defining the assignments. The original request may not coincide with the reality. In this case, the objective was to ensure that the business plan designed to gain Oxfam Intermón’s support was actually implemented. Once on the ground, our rethinking involved a new five-year plan, which we drew up with the manager of APROMAM and in collaboration with Sonia Gómez, a junior alumna from Barcelona. It was an ambitious plan: one of the goals we set for ourselves was to increase turnover fourfold.
When you return home, what do you leave behind?
When you return, you think about whether your work will help them withstand the day-to-day pressures, whether they will be able to think and act with more strategic vision and more internal organisation. I am confident that it will, because the project is moving forward. Two Esade alumni will soon be helping to conduct market research in order to develop a commercial plan that includes a mass-market sales channel. And it will continue with students from the Esade University Development Service (SUD), who will do their internships with this Bolivian organisation.
I was convinced that my participation had to be active, not just symbolic or a financial contribution as a member of an NGO.