Andean Economic Development: A Journey

I’m Nate Marshall, a junior here at W&M. For ten weeks from May to August 2015 I will be working as an unpaid intern for Awamaki, a nonprofit in Ollantaytambo, Cuzco, Peru, a rural town in the Sacred Valley. During my time there I will be applying skills I have learned in my computer science courses to help provide necessary information systems upgrades. However, I would like to go further than that. As an economics major with a particular interest in development, I want to incorporate an economic research project into my experience. That journey begins here.

Awamaki is a social entrepreneurship that uses profit from sales of local traditional textiles to fund programs that benefit the residents living in and around Ollantaytambo. I want to know what Awamaki—and similar firms—can do to increase productivity and expand sales in order to increase their funds available for promoting local economic development and social welfare. Since I will be working at Awamaki, I will have a plethora of opportunities to observe typical goings on as well as to ask questions pertinent to my research. Vivian Smith, Awamaki’s Volunteer Coordinator, has already put me in contact with a textiles-related NGO in nearby Cusco and has contact information for another located in Ecuador.

This work allows me the opportunity to blend my most intense interests into a single experience. In Ollantaytambo I will be able to delve into Economics, Spanish, and Computer Science. Not only that, but I will be able to explore these topics in a culture different from my own. This endeavor is academically serious but personally exhilarating. I can’t wait to get started with my learning and adventure!

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Ollantaytambo, Cuzco, Peru Taken from