The eight New Zealand students who travelled to Latin America for the Entrepreneurship in Colombia programme have had three months to reflect on their experiences. We asked the students to share with us some of their most interesting experiences from the programme and how it has impacted them since returning to New Zealand.
“I think that through this trip I was challenged to come out of my comfort zone a lot and that really helped reinforce some confidence in me, from being terrible at Salsa dancing to eating bugs. It's hard to reflect because so much change happens so fast but ultimately, I do feel more confident… This was just so transformative.”
One of the most memorable parts of the trip was getting to work and converse with four local students who spent the week with the group.
“Meeting and mixing with the Colombian students was one of the highlights! Being able to learn their culture and experience their daily lives was an insight into how our lives compare. The way they were willing to share with us about themselves and Colombia was really beneficial in understanding the way of life. I’m hoping that we were also able to impart some of our Kiwi flavor onto them and hopefully they will come and visit soon enough.” - Caleb Carrasco
The programme included a focus on business in Medellín and the business challenge that took place throughout the week.The students visited several local businesses and gained insights and understanding of practices in Latin America compared to New Zealand.
“The visits and challenges gave us invaluable exposure and insight into a variety of Colombian companies, introduced us to a range of business people and assisted us in developing a deeper understanding of business practice in Latin America as well as see the major differences in comparison to New Zealand business.” – Jemima Peck
“Whilst staying in Medellin, a large portion of our time involved visiting various businesses within the city for a company visit and presentation. This was a fantastic opportunity for us to learn how businesses operate within Colombia and see many of the company values they hold and follow.” – Ben McIntyre
They learnt about ‘coopetition’ – an emerging business concept that’s gaining momentum in Latin American business:
“It was interesting to hear that their company holds a strong value towards the concept of coopetition, something I had never heard of in New Zealand. Coopetition involves working cooperatively alongside other competitors within the same industry, with the hope of achieving mutually beneficial results for both companies.” – Ben McIntyre
The fascinating city of Medellín itself was also a highlight for students. Medellín is known as one of the most innovative cities in the world, and the students certainly agreed! On both a public and private level, the city is working to leverage innovation to develop its economy, reputation, and overall welfare.
“It was crazy to see how Medellin has transformed its reputation in the space of only a few years to become one of the most innovative cities in the world.” – Caleb Carrasco
“Medellín’s focus on innovation was truly inspiring. Each business we visited had a primary focus on innovation and used it to transform the perception of the country. Overall with each company visit I was ever more surprised at the government’s work to implement innovation in order to increase the country’s economy, but more importantly to change its reputation.” – Casey Caminos
The programme was a great success, with the students engaging in all aspects of the trip with great enthusiasm and taking away some invaluable insights into social, cultural, business, and political dimensions of life in Colombia. A number of them say they are already planning to return to Colombia in the future!
“By the end of the trip, I learned so much about Colombia and I feel really confident about moving or setting up a business in the country. Not only that, this wonderful experience has helped me learn and develop important skills that will help me succeed in the real world. I miss the people, culture, food and good vibes. These awesome things make me want to go back to Colombia but for longer than 9 days. See you soon Colombia!” Angelo Murundan