Inspiring Stories at 11,000 feet in The Peruvian Andes – A Visit to Caja Rural Los Andes

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As part of the Summer immersion of Lauder’s Latin America program, we visited Caja Los Andes in Cusco and Puno, in southern Peru. Caja Rural Los Andes is a Peruvian microfinance institution whose Chairman of the Board is Lauder alumna Rosanna Ramos-Velita (G’92). Not only did we go to Caja Rural’s offices but also we got to visit one of its clients in her farm. This was one of the highlights of the trip to Peru –quite an impactful way to start our corporate visits.

We went from Cusco to Puno byblogpic2  bus, stopping at a branch of Caja Los Andes, then at their offices, and finally ending the day’s visit at one of Caja Los Andes’s client’s property. At the branch there was a couple of young clients completing documents with a financial advisor. We were welcomed in Spanish and Quechua, the local language, by both staff members of Caja Los Andes and the clients themselves. Afterwards, at Caja Los Andes’s Sicuani office we had a presentation of the business and a conversation about microfinance in the country and the impact it has as a vehicle for development. We were able to learn more about the progress Caja Los Andes has made through time as well as to understand the challenges it faces. Finally, we visited Señora Rosa, a good client of Caja Los Andes. She told us how she endured hard times, including terrorist attacks in her community, and how with hard work she managed to buy land and machines with which now she produces and sells potatoes and export-quality quinoa. It was truly inspiring to hear her story and to connect it with what we learned of Caja Los Andes’s activity.

In the evening, Caja Los Andes greeted us with dinner overlooking Lake Titicaca in Puno. This was the last time we were together with Rosanna, who had to leave the next day. Throughout the whole day we got to see the deep connection Rosanna had with all of the people from Caja Los Andes, even though she lives in New York. It was remarkable to see such powerful leadership through a Lauder alumna and especially in an industry which entails a profound intercultural understanding and great challenges.
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The following day we had a final presentation and Q&A session done by Caja Los Andes’s CEO. After all the background information we had, it helped in wrapping up our learnings.

Señora Rosa’s story has stuck with us as a powerful evidence of how success can be achieved through hard work and determination even in the toughest circumstances. Also, Rosanna’s story of investing in a business with social impact has touched us in a special way, making us think about our own goals and purpose. Caja Los Andes is a solid proof of doing good and doing well. The visit to Caja Los Andes was a fantastic start to our corporate visits in the region.

Carla Benavides, Lauder ’18, Latin America Program.