#BusinessBobcats and La Universidad Americana partner with local Nicaraguan businesses
Monday, February 8 2016 12:00am
23 #BusinessBobcats. 20 Nicaraguan students. 15 days. 8 local businesses. Many challenges, many more success stories.
By Brianna Wilson
Raymond Frost, professor, management information systems, supervised ten Global Consulting Program (GCP) trips before this year’s trip to Managua, Nicaragua with Site Director Paul Benedict, instructor, management. But never before had he seen such a transformational experience—both for students and clients.
“We actually had clients crying during the final presentations,” said Frost. “One client said our students were like angels sent down from heaven, and another said they were an answer to her prayers. I simply had never seen that level of gratitude on another GCP.”
Why? A lot of it has to do with the trust clients placed in their student teams. “Small business owners entrusted us with everything,” said Mike Casey, ‘17. “Their livelihood was essentially in our hands.”
Together with two La Universidad Americana students and another Ohio University student, Casey helped owner Eduardo Guzmán market and brand a small, start-up gardening company. They developed a strategy and designed collateral, such as a logo, Facebook page, website, business cards, door fliers, and even employee uniforms.
“Instead of just providing recommendations or designs, though, these students were actually reaching into their own pockets to implement their ideas,” said Frost. “You could tell how much they believed in the business and in helping,” said Frost.
The group also worked with Guzmán to rename the business Jardinería Guzmán—and learned some cultural lessons along the way. “We originally based naming suggestions off of companies here [in the U.S.], but then learned that in Nicaragua, it’s common to name a business using your last name,” explained Casey.
And the work paid off. Before the students even presented their final project, Guzmán had gained two clients through the business’ new Facebook page. And his page continues to grow traction. “When we left, there were 107 likes and three content posts,” said Casey. “He’s been posting almost every day, and it’s up to 185 likes.”
Another participant, Michelle Nelson, ‘16, and her team provided marketing consultation for triathlon sporting goods store 10K Running Center. The team produced a marketing plan per the client’s request—but they also suggested the store carry a few yoga products. “We used Facebook Analytics and Google AdWords to see what other sports were popular in Managua, and found that yoga was searched more and liked more on Facebook,” explained Nelson. “The owner was really impressed by the research, and I think he’ll carry the products. That was the best part of the trip—seeing our client’s face after we presented. It made all the hard work we put in worth it.”
Of course, these are just a few success stories. One group helped a hostel set up a strategic partnership with the Peace Corps. Another built fundraising and volunteer lead generator tools for a non-profit animal rescue. Yet another provided much needed accounting and budgeting for a local bakery.
And the help didn’t go unnoticed. Clients were thankful, and La Universidad Americana students and staff were enthusiastic to work with Bobcats. “La Universidad Americana was a big reason why the programs were successful,” said Benedict. “The students brought cultural insight and worked really hard.”
Further, Nicaraguans in general welcomed the group. “So much so that we were featured on their equivalent of Good Morning America, Sol a Sol,” explained Frost.
The Global Consulting Program (GCP), offered through the Center for International Business, offers seven unique programs around the globe. These programs place students in a cross-cultural consulting team to solve real business problems and gain applied business experience. Though the program is run by the College of Business, all OHIO students are invited to participate.
The next GCP to Nicaragua will be December 26,2016 through January 7, 2017. Applications open March 7 and close April 1.
Learn more about the program online, and stay tuned for dates and times of our upcoming information sessions.