This program is organized by Social Entrepreneur Corps (SEC) in collaboration with DukeEngage.  

Applicant Alert: Non-US citizens should contact the DukeEngage office (dukeengage@duke.edu) prior to submitting an application for the Guatemala program for information on visa requirements.

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Program Dates

May 21 - July 15

Service Focus
Designing and implementing entrepreneurial and educational solutions with constituents in rural communities in the developing world. Specifically, the three service themes that best describe the experience the students will be involved in are: Community Development/Outreach, Economic & Workforce Development/Social Enterprise and Health/Human Services.

  • Community Development/Outreach: Supporting in designing, testing and implementing models and services that create opportunities for the rural families of Guatemala to improve the quality of the lives.
  • Economic & Workforce Development/Social Enterprise: Assisting Soluciones Comunitarias in its efforts to empower the team of local leaders in providing solutions for people of rural communities.
  • Health/Human Services: Assisting with the goal of providing services to the rural population of rural Guatemala that will empower them to improve the quality of their lives.

Program Leaders

  • Greg Van Kirk, Co-Founder, Social Entrepreneur Corps and Community Enterprise Solutions.  Greg is an Ashoka Lemelson Fellow, Ashoka Globalizer and a Schwab Foundation “Social Entrepreneur of the Year for 2012 (Latin America).” He has served as a consultant for different international organizations; has contributed as “Social Entrepreneur in Residence;” and has worked with Columbia University, NYU, Marquette University, Indiana University, University of San Diego and Arizona State University. He taught social entrepreneurship at Columbia University and NYU.
  • , Global Strategic Advisor, Social Entrepreneur Corps and Community Enterprise Solutions. Maria has served in the organization since 2008 after working for different development organizations in India and Guatemala. She consulted for different international organizations in Latin America and Africa.
  • , Ph.D, Associate Director, Markets and Management Studies, Duke University; DukeEngage in Guatemala Faculty Fellow


Upon arrival in country, SEC interns participate in a two-week training course to enhance cultural and country understanding, increase Spanish language capabilities, learn about concepts and best practices related to development work/social entrepreneurship, and gain the content and technical skills necessary to support clients/beneficiaries during the field-work segments of the program. Interns will work with SEC leadership to identify opportunities to make an impact through social innovations, including the Empowerment Model and Grassroots Consulting, and to define client/beneficiary and community-based desired outcomes. This segment provides participants with the necessary knowledge base and skills to be successful in the upcoming field-work segment. The remaining time will be spent in different rural locations implementing community development projects.

The SEC mission – “change the world, change your world” – is implemented through a DukeEngage program in Guatemala that fosters:

  • Social Entrepreneurship Impact Immersion: Participants will study and think critically about aid strategies and social entrepreneurship models with expert leadership; and they will learn technical skills “tools” and apply them in a dynamic and challenging developing world environment while traveling to a variety of regions and engaging with a multitude of rural communities, local organizations, small businesses and entrepreneurs.
  • Pioneer Social Innovation: SEC is constantly looking for new ways to engage with communities and build on current relationships in communities with organizations and microentrepreneurs. Interns play a direct role in designing and developing innovative social entrepreneurial intervention based on local needs through their immersion and engagement with families, communities, organizations and entrepreneurs over the course of eight weeks.
  • Empowerment: We believe individuals, families, and communities are empowered to change their own lives and the lives of those around them when they have the ability, means and inspiration.

Students’ work with SEC intervenes and provides a positive impact in one or more of these areas based on our clients’ expressed needs and desires, taking into account their challenges and opportunities.

Duration: Eight-week program includes foundation building (two weeks), field-work immersion (two weeks), reflection (one week), field-work immersion (two weeks), and achievements (one week).

Student Learning Objectives/Outcomes

Through participation in innovative rural development work within a challenging cultural, language learning, and grassroots environment, SEC ensures that interns will:

  • Gain insight into the opportunities, inherent risks and limitations involved in third world development;
  • Have ample opportunities to significantly increase Spanish language proficiency;
  • Observe, learn and live in a diversity of cultural settings;
  • Experience homestay living with local families;
  • Have the opportunity to work with and support an array of development and relief organizations; and
  • Be offered the opportunity to make a significant contribution in a highly structured manner working side-by-side with field-based social entrepreneurs.

Through classes, case studies, discussions, analysis and living with the local population, as well as through visits and active participation with local NGOs and social entrepreneurs, interns will make a profound community impact whilst gaining an in-depth knowledge of rural economic development.

The desired social entrepreneurship outcomes for the program are that interns:

  • Will have gained an understanding of the key differences, advantages and disadvantages of varied international relief and economic development models;
  • Will feel knowledgeable with regards to the challenges and opportunities inherent in the creation of successful social entrepreneurship models, implementation strategies and tactics
  • Will have learned and practiced effective strategies for training, mentoring and supporting local social entrepreneurs; and
  • Will have contributed to the identification and design of new social entrepreneurship opportunities for local constituents.

The desired cultural outcomes for the program are that interns:

  • Will have gained an understanding of the challenges confronting the rural population specifically
  • Will feel comfortable interacting with the local population on a general, family and individual level
  • Will have gained an understanding of the cultural and professional "dos" and "don'ts" of living and working in a rural development environment such as those in Guatemala
  • Will understand how the rural population lives and works as well as what they aspire to achieve

The desired Spanish language outcomes for the program are that interns:

  • Will have significantly improved their conversational Spanish capabilities; and
  • Will have gained an understanding of the nuances of language in developing country environments.

Service Opportunities

Placement will be determined based on the application and on the interview that students will conduct during the selection process with a leadership member of SEC.

Grassroots Consulting

  • Plan and prepare workshops, presentations, and training sessions that “teach a person to fish” and aim to empower small business clients to strengthen, improve, or enhance their work.
  • Deliver one-on-one consulting, group trainings, community outreach/marketing development, and short-term human resource assistance to a variety of clients in a rural setting.
  • Get hands-on grassroots experience with clients that may lack knowledge on how to use a computer; presentations will be made using poster boards more frequently than power point, and planning skits to demonstrate important points may be more valuable than graphs and charts.
    • Examples from past workshops have focused on topics that include: leadership, strategic/tactical development and execution, SWOT analysis, administration, human resources, financial management, program development and implementation, income generation, partnership development, evaluation, marketing, positioning, planning, technical skills, organizing skills, and other areas of organizational and individual development.
  • Create specific deliverables that can add value to the client’s work.
    • Example projects from past interns include: creating brochures, flyers, logos, marketing plans, social media guides, and accounting tools.

MircoConsignment Model (MCM)

  • Create access to health care and education-related goods and services in rural communities.
  • Visit up to a dozen communities, speak with families, support entrepreneurs in offering services and goods, deliver presentations and learn about community needs from community members.
  • Consult a locally established and sustainable social enterprise, Soluciones Comunitarias, by investigating, vetting and field-testing appropriate products and services to be implemented within the MCM as well as strategies to make the MCM more applicable in urban settings or with higher level service products and products that require an educational element.
  • Lead special projects in teams and provide recommendations informed by engagement in six categories of field-work including needs analysis, feasibility analysis, project launch, support, expansion and evaluation.

Students will travel to a new field sites twice throughout the program. Teams will rotate though at least two sites.

Program Requirements

Language: Basic Spanish is advantageous but not required. To begin the program, two weeks of intensive Spanish language classes are designed based on individual needs and desires so that all participants can be effective in the field as soon as possible and leave with a much greater command of the language.

Coursework: No specific academic experiences or GPA are required.

Other Skills: For all program participants a history of achievement is important. As well, given the nature of the program, an applicant’s personal qualities play a large role in determining whether or not he/she is accepted. Participants will be living and working in challenging environments and as such the “intangibles” are fundamental to participant success.

Personal Qualities:

Participants in all SEC programs should:

  • Recognize that they are going to have a profound impact but are not going to “change the world in a day;”
  • Possess a positive outlook on the prospects for assisting local people to solve local problems;
  • Be hard-working, open-minded, open-hearted, collaborative and teamwork-oriented individuals;
  • Be individuals who take initiative and are resourceful self-starters;
  • Take their work and responsibilities very seriously but not take themselves too seriously;
  • Be very desirous of learning about development, relief and social entrepreneurship;
  • Be willing and able to live for a time in a challenging developing country environment; and
  • Be willing and desirous of “getting your hands dirty.

Participants in Social Entrepreneur Corps programs need not:

  • Have international living experience;
  • Have Spanish language experience (language classes are a part of the program and one’s success is not necessarily correlated to Spanish speaking skills before entering); or
  • Have business or development experience.

Program Details

Description of Community: During orientation, students will be living in rural communities located just a short bus ride away from Antigua. Field sites will be rural, urban, and semi-urban depending on the project.

Headquarters: La Antigua

The tight-knit communities in the Sacatepéquez region of Guatemala are best known for their strong traditions, home to the biggest Catholic Holy Week festivities as well as skilled leatherworkers, metalworkers and furniture makers. The heart of this area is Antigua, a colonial town nestled below the three volcanoes of Agua, Fuego and Acatenango. It is one the finest surviving examples in Latin America of colonial town planning, laid out on a grid pattern emanating from the central park, whilst its examples of Spanish colonial architecture have earned it the position of UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Satellite Site: Nebaj

Nebaj is the home of the Ixil, one of the most distinct Mayan cultures. The Ixiles are world-famous for their intricately woven traditional clothing. The local culture feels uniquely traditional and vibrant in this region. Nebaj is far from the cosmopolitan sophistication of the capital, but it is a bustling, lively town. The people are warm and offer participation in traditional customs such as the local sauna, a tamascal, or the cooking of the traditional food, boxboles. Nebaj offers options for hiking, sitting as it does in a valley surrounded by mountains. Exploring the villages around Nebaj will take the visitors to some of the most remote places in the Americas. The combination of landscapes and local culture makes Nebaj a destination in Guatemala for many visitors.

Satellite Site: Lake Atitlan

For many, there is no more spectacular site in the world than the sun setting over the Lake Atitlan as the evening mist descends. English novelist Aldous Huxley described the lake as like "Lake Como with the added embellishment of several immense volcanoes" and decided it was the most beautiful lake in the world. The lake itself is great for swimming. Dotted around the shore of the lake are dozens of towns, from busy Panajachel, with its international scene and restaurants, to sleepy indigenous towns such as San Juan La Laguna. Whether for a short visit or a longer stay, the beauty of the Lake will stay with you forever.

Satellite Site: Xela

Quetzaltenango, or Xela as it is more usually known, is fast becoming one of the most popular places in Latin America to learn Spanish and do volunteer work. Offering the advantages of a city — with cinemas, restaurants and entertainment — Xela has much more the feel of a large town — easy to navigate and get to know. It's a friendly place, with the typical bustle of highland Guatemala very much present, and the beauty of the surrounding mountains is always visible. What's more, within easy reach are many beautiful rural areas, such as to the hot springs of Fuentes Georginas.

Housing and Meals: During orientation, students will live with Guatemalan homestay families who have been trained and certified by SEC. Depending on field sites, students may be staying in hotels, group apartments or homestays. In all locations, students have access to water, laundry services, toilets and study/private spaces and are located minutes ways from each other.

While living with a homestay, all meals will be provided by the homestay family. During hotel and group living stays, students will receive a daily stipend for food.

If you do not eat certain types of food for cultural, religious or personal reasons, please contact the DukeEngage office, , to discuss whether or not your dietary needs can be reasonably accommodated at this program site.

Transportation: Local public buses, taxis and private program bus.

Communication: Students will be given a cell phone that can make and receive international calls. Cell phone signal/service throughout Guatemala is generally strong. Interns will have access to internet, but access to wifi networks is more limited than in U.S. and interns should not expect to be connected to wifi on a regular basis. Homestays do not typically offer wifi, but wifi is available in many cafes and restaurants in cities. Students can decide to bring their laptops, but internet cafes with computers are available.

Opportunities for Reflection: Site coordinators will lead regular reflection sessions in which students will be expected to participate. More details will be shared with students once they arrive in country. Reflection topics can vary from cultural, professional, personal, educational aspects of the experience.

Other Opportunities: The program is designed so that students live a group experience but also have spaces and time on their own or with their homestay. They are constantly immersed in the community, therefore they have many opportunities to interact with community members.  Students will have freetime on Sundays and some evenings, and normally SEC suggests appropriate enrichment options based on students' interests. Also, throughout the itinerary there are built-in work periods where students can work independently if they choose.

More Information

The following is a list of additional websites and other resources regarding Guatemala and social entrepreneurship. 

General Information About Guatemala:

·       US Embassy Website: http://guatemala.usembassy.gov

·       InGuat (Guatemala Department of Tourism) Official Website: www.visitguatemala.com/

·       State Department International Travel Information: http://travel.state.gov/travel

·       State Department Website (social/political information: www.state.gov

·       Guatemala general information: www.countrywatch.com/

·       Travel advice and information: www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations

·       Official Government Website Links: www.psr.keele.ac.uk/official.htm

·       Geographical information and Maps: www.geography.about.com/library/maps/blindex.htm  

·       Statistical Information from the UN: www.cyberschoolbus.un.org/infonation/info.asp

·       Current World historical and cultural information: www.worldinformation.com

·       Basic Timeline of Guatemalan History: http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/guatemala704/history/timeline.html

·       Database of Information on Guatemala: http://lanic.utexas.edu/la/ca/guatemala/

·       Human Rights Watch Report: http://www.hrw.org/en/world-report-2011/guatemala

·       Freedom House Report: http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=22&country=7832&year=2010

·       World Bank Country Brief: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/LACEXT/GUATEMALAEXTN/0,,contentMDK:20904081~menuPK:328123~pagePK:1497618~piPK:217854~theSitePK:328117,00.html

·       World Bank Poverty Assessment (page 9-14):


Websites about Social Entrepreneurship/MicroConsignment:

·       Community Enterprise Solutions: www.cesolutions.org

·       Social Entrepreneur Corps: www.socialentrepreneurcorps.com

·       Soluciones Comunitarias: www.solucionescomunitarias.com

·       MicroConsignment: http://microconsignment.com/

·       NDSG Social Media:

o   Facebook Group- Social Entrepreneur Corps

o   Twitter- @MCMimpact

·       Stanford Social Innovation Review: http://www.ssireview.org/

·       Ashoka Innovators for the Public: http://www.ashoka.org/

·       Mini-Lecture, Greg VanKirk: What is MicroConsignment? http://youtu.be/nrA6gvn5xD0

·       MicroConsignment Story: http://youtu.be/4ctI0xoA5Uk

·       CNN Money interview with Greg Van Kirk: http://money.cnn.com/video/news/2010/08/13/n_cc_microconsignment_model.cnnmoney/ 

·       TEDxUNC Talk: Greg Van Kirk, Social Entrepreneurship: You are the Relative Expert http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZSRSz4M6z8&feature=related

·       TEDxBYU Talk: Greg Van Kirk, The MicroConsignment Model http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRCIXlZpEX4

·       Social Entrepreneurship: The MicroConsignment Model, by Brett Smith http://www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2011/05/10/social-entrepreneurship-the-microconsignment-model/

·       NY Times, Opinionator, When Microcredit Won’t Do, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/31/when-microcredit-wont-do/

·       NY Times, Opinionator, How to Grow a Social Business


Recommended Books on Guatemala

  • The Art of Political Murder by Francisco Goldman
  • I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala by Elizabeth Burgos
  • Blood of Guatemala by Greg Grandin
  • Last Colonial Massacre by Greg Grandin
  • Paradise in Ashes by Beatrice Manz
  • Eternal Spring Eternal Tyranny (Photo Book) by Jean-Marie Simon
  • Between Two Armies in the Ixil Towns of Guatemala by David Stoll
  • For Every Indio Who Falls by Betsy Konefal
  • Bitter Fruit by Steven Schlesinger
  • The CIA in Guatemala by Richard H. Immerman
  • Unfinished Conquest: The Guatemalan Tragedy by Victor Perera and Daniel Chauche

Recommended Books on Social Entrepreneurship

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