Hey to all the readers and greetings from the highest capital of the world La Paz.

My name is Annu and I’m currently in Bolivia doing volunteer work. I have been here from March and will stay until June. I’m here through Suomen Lähetysseura, which I can warmly recommend if you are interested in doing volunteer work. I’m working with the development projects that Suomen Lähetysseura has here in Bolivia.

My work includes teaching local women how to do business in artisan world. I’m teaching them the knowledge I have gotten through my own business in Finland which I have together with four other person. I’m working with an artisan association whose members are making clothes and accessories from Alpaca wool.

The women are very skilled when making clothes but to get the clothes sold still requires some work and that’s where I have been helping them. I have given them presentations about how to value your products, how to make business plan, how to do marketing and explained them the importance of bookkeeping. Together we have also made plans for the store that association will have in June in the centrum of La Paz.

Sometimes we don’t share the same language since many of the women speak the indigenous language which is nothing like Spanish. Despite that there is always someone translating and we have had amazing workshops and lessons together. People here are extremely friendly and so appreciative of my help. Many times they have said that I should marry a Bolivian and stay here 🙂

The working conditions here are quite basic but you don’t need all these fancy equipment to inspire and teach people. Bolivia is a developing country and living standards are very different that we have in Finland. I have had to work with my patience since things here progress really slowly, people have to take care of the kids and house and they don’t always have time to learn about business. Also the bureaucracy here is quite time consuming and sometimes I feel people are doing more paperwork than the actual work.

Here my working language is Spanish and even though it would be easier to talk in English, I’m so happy I have challenged myself and now I can speak Spanish fluently. During my three months here I have felt pure joy and I know that this kind of work I’m supposed to do. I think the purpose of having own business in Finland is to share the knowledge to others.

I really feel that in order to success the project needs to hire a business consultant who knows about marketing, since there are so many opportunities if they could get some more help with branding. Unfortunately I need to get back to Finland but I’m hoping someone will come to continue the work I have started.

Feel free to send me a message if you would be interested doing volunteer work in Bolivia and I can help you with the process. I’m forever grateful of this opportunity and I’m pretty sure this will not be my last visit in South-America 😉

Annu Rantanen