“The program awoke in me further the desire to be an entrepreneur, the value of perseverance and work, and the importance of creativity. Besides, we learned new cooking techniques to add a personal taste to everything we do.”
These were the opening words of Rita’s speech, one of the mothers participating in Emprendimiento y Nutrición - Gastronomía360 (Entrepreneurship and Nutrition - Gastronomy360). Her classmate Marly added, “I feel very fortunate for everything that I have learned, for the teachers I had, and for the opportunity to grow both professionally and personally. Being united with my classmates was very important because we are a big family. Besides, I discovered what I like to do and I learned how to do it well.”
We could fill this editorial with testimonials from our Valencia alumnae, which reflect in a simple way the value of what they have found. Their children currently attend a soup kitchen managed by Caritas in that city, but it has been awoken in them the desire to be entrepreneurs to provide for the basic needs of their families.
Our country needs a cultural change that is only possible through an encounter. Because it is not enough to offer opportunities and, in our case, good training to those who need it. It is important to look at, listen to, and share the needs for the change to happen.
In February (our anniversary month) we decided to go out and meet people nationwide, and the result exceeded our expectations. The culture of encounter is the foundation for a social friendship that is capable of creating the common good.
Under the current global circumstances caused by COVID-19, we are unable to meet in person. Many families are split up, and we feel helpless in front of a reality that paralyzes us. We must be responsible and follow the guidelines issued by the appropriate authorities to stop the spread of the virus and to bring this pandemic to an end. This challenges our creativity to keep the culture of encounter alive.
Rita said that “although all of us have weaknesses, Venezuela needs us now more than ever. We need to do our part for our country to reemerge, to recover, and to be prosperous, with plenty of opportunities, so that it can develop in all directions.”
Vaclav Havel’s words are key, because “hope is not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”
We met with our alumnae from Valencia!
On February 18, as part of the celebrations for the eleven years of Trabajo y Persona (TyP), Alejandro Marius and the TyP team met with alumnae of the different programs carried out in Valencia: the first cohort of Emprendedoras del Chocolate (Chocolate Entrepreneurs)—within the Venezuela Tierra de Cacao Project (Venezuela Land of Cocoa)—and the first cohort of Emprendimiento y Nutrición-Gastronomía360 (Entrepreneurship and Nutrition-Gastronomy360). The encounter included testimonials, life experiences, and insights about the value of work. The entrepreneurs also talked about their concerns and dreams, which will enable our NGO to support them as they go through the Emprender360 process.
Participants of the diploma course in Mérida presented their business plans
On February 19, twenty-six participants of Diplomado en Emprendimiento Chocolatero (Diploma Course in Chocolate Making Business) presented their business plans. This course is carried out as part of the Venezuela Tierra de Cacao Project, in partnership with Universidad de Los Andes. The presentation was held in the Banco Central de Venezuela room, at the School of Economic and Social Sciences of said university, where the entrepreneurs-to-be showed their outstanding products. Teachers, business owners, project experts, and TyP team members participated in the event.
Entrepreneurs were trained by master chocolatier Giovanni Conversi
On February 27, Giovanni Conversi, founder of Mantuano Chocolate, gave a workshop on flavored chocolate bars called Taller de tabletas intervenidas. This theoretical and practical training was held in the kitchen of Fundación Espacio Suizo. Nine entrepreneurs took the class and learned about chocolate tempering, chocolate flavors, and chocolate formulations.
Rum and chocolate tasting in Carúpano
On February 29, as part of the Venezuela Tierra de Cacao Project, a rum and chocolate tasting took place in Salón Mediterráneo at Hotel Euro-Caribe Internacional in Carúpano. Thirty-eight people attended, including the Italian ambassador and his diplomatic service, who tasted delicious bonbons made by Emprendedoras del Chocolate from that city. This activity was possible thanks to the partnership between CAVENIT, Ron Carúpano, Fundación San José, Casa Franceschi, Diócesis de Carúpano, and Hotel Euro-Caribe Internacional.
Carúpano has new Emprendedoras Gastronómicas (Culinary Entrepreneurs)
On February 29, the graduation ceremony for the second cohort of Emprendimiento y Nutrición- Gastronomía360 was held, after which fifteen Carúpano women became Emprendedoras Gastronómicas. The event, which took place in Salón Mediterráneo at Hotel Euro-Caribe Internacional, put an end to a phase of continuous development and marked the beginning of a mentoring process that will help graduates boost their businesses and strengthen their values. This program is possible thanks to the partnership between Ford Motor Venezuela, Fogones y Bandera, Caritas Carúpano, Diócesis de Carúpano, and Trabajo y Persona.
Emprendedoras Gastronómicas from El Tocuyo presented their final dishes
On January 30, the participants of Emprendimiento y Nutrición - Gastronomía360 from El Tocuyo amazed the examining board with the diversity of flavors and colors in their final dishes. Using local products and applying what they learned in the course, the entrepreneurs presented various dishes, including a traditional Tocuyan breakfast, goat cheese ravioli, and delicious fried guabine fish. The dishes were evaluated by chefs Sergio Arango, Nora Muñoz, and Pedro Briceño, from Escuela de Cocina Adelis Sisirucá of Barquisimeto.
- Silvana Rondón, alumna of the first cohort of Emprendimiento y Nutrición - Gastronomía360, did an internship on February 19-27 at the soup kitchen Comedor San Rafael, managed by Caritas Carúpano, in Urbanización La Michelena, where she applied what she learned throughout the course.
- María Duarte, alumna of the first cohort of Emprendedoras del Chocolate from Valencia, within the Venezuela Tierra de Cacao Project, did an internship, from February 26 to March 3, at Chocolates Valle Canoabo, where she brushed up on her skills and was introduced to an assembly line production process and dynamics.
- David Torrealba, alumnus of the fifth cohort of Conduciendo Tu Futuro (Leading Your Future), participated in the workshop Importancia de la ley de impuesto sobre la renta (Importance of the Income Tax Law), given by KPMG Valencia on February 7.
- Darling Rendón, alumna of the eighth cohort of Emprendedoras de la Belleza - Belleza por un Futuro (Beauty Entrepreneurs - Beauty for A Future), and Lizmar Oscarina González, alumna of Diplomado en el Cuidado al Adulto Mayor (Diploma Course in Senior Care), participated in the workshop Contabilidad básica (Accounting Basics), conducted by KPMG Caracas on February 12.
- Maura Moreno, alumna of the second cohort of Emprendimiento y Nutrición – Gastronomía360 from El Tocuyo, started her business Fresas con Crema ROMO. The products have been widely accepted by the public, and their appearance and quality are outstanding.
- Génesis Pereira, alumna of the second cohort of Emprendimiento y Nutrición - Gastronomía360 from El Tocuyo, continues with her family business Teque Wow, offering customers a high-quality product: extra cheese tequeños in different presentations.
- Mercedes Escalona, alumna of the second cohort of Emprendimiento y Nutrición – Gastronomía360 from El Tocuyo, started a family business called Caprilacteos R&M, which offers goat’s milk-based products that are manufactured by the owners themselves.
- Emma Torrealba, Marlene Briceño, and Verónica Prieto, alumnae of Emprendedoras del Chocolate and founders of Chocolates Las Heroicas, opened Las Heroicas store on February 12, in Centro Comercial Daymar, city of Guatire, Miranda. Their products will be manufactured, displayed, and sold in the store.
- Elizabeth Caraballo and Norienagel Rodríguez, alumnae of the first cohort of Emprendedoras del Chocolate from Valencia, within the Venezuela Tierra de Cacao Project, partnered to meet the demand for chocolate due to the Day of Love and Friendship in Venezuela, thus boosting their bonbon making businesses.
- Geraldine Melo, alumna of the first cohort of Emprendedoras del Chocolate from Petare, within the Venezuela Tierra de Cacao Project, did an internship on February 3-28 at Talokohc Chocolate, in Caracas.
- Zuleima Velásquez, alumna of Emprendedoras del Chocolate from Guarenas, did an internship at Mantuano Chocolate's lab in Caracas, on February 10-14.
- Gladys Licón, alumna of Emprendedoras del Chocolate from Invecapi, El Rosal, did an internship at Mantuano Chocolate's lab in Caracas, on February 17-20.
- In February, Escuela de Gastronomía Adelis Sisirucá, in the city of Barquisimeto, Lara, celebrated its anniversary with different activities, such as Amazonian food workshops, cinema forums, and seminars about the history of gastronomy. The seminars involved prominent figures, including chef Nelson Méndez and anthropologist and historian Emanuele Amodio. The latter facilitated the seminar Como cilantro en sancocho cruzado (Like Celery in Sancocho Cruzado), in which he described Venezuelan gastronomy in the 18th century. Two alumnae of the first cohort of Bombonería Artesanal (Chocolate Bonbon Making) and the local coordinator of Venezuela Tierra de Cacao Project attended the event thanks to the invitation made to Trabajo y Persona.
- In February, Trabajo y Persona formed a partnership with Talokohc Chocolate, which will allow alumnae of Emprendedoras del Chocolate to continue developing professionally with the support of industry experts.