14 October 2015

The true spirit of cooperation!

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Dear readers, before getting into the topic at hand, allow me to quickly introduce myself: My name is Émilie, I’m 28 and I’ve been working as a public relations advisor at Promutel Insurance for nearly three years. I’m passionate about communications and public relations, I’m a part-time gym buff, but a full-time foodie! Nice to meet you, and thanks for letting me share my travel story with you.

Through my job at Promutuel Insurance, I’ve had the chance to work with Société de cooperation pour le développement international (SOCODEVI). SOCODEVI is a network of cooperatives and mutuals that have been sharing their technical expertise and know-how for 30 years with partners in developing countries to generate, protect, and distribute wealth in these countries. Promutuel Insurance is a member of this network. The SOCODEVI team asked me to carry out a mission: to rethink a communications plan affecting a group of agricultural cooperatives in Peru.

The mission

During my mission, I met with the main contacts for these agricultural cooperatives in order to learn about their needs and their realities, as well as assess the situation and recommend some solutions.

We had the opportunity to discuss best practices in communications: participating in trade shows, organizing coop store launches, and selecting  content to use based on different communication tools.

The main challenge of the mission was to coordinate  communication between the cooperatives, their members, their partners, and the local population. And the more people there are, the more a message can be distorted.

So my first recommendation was to improve internal communication.Rethinking the communications plan will provide the tools required for members to adopt the values of their cooperative.

The main objective of the communications plan is for the cooperatives to be able to complete their projects in an organized way and communicate them to their various audiences.

semaine de la coopération

The country

Wow! That was my first impression that comes to mind. It was my first time visiting Latin America. I landed in Lima and the cultural immersion started right away—first the language, then the people. Lima is a sprawling city of 10 million residents! My trip took me from Lima to Trujillo, Huarmey, and Barranca. They are farther away from the big urban centres, but they blew me away! Farming is the main activity in rural areas. I even had the opportunity to visit an organic asparagus cooperative.

The people

I was lucky enough to cross paths with so many people that were passionate about cooperation and development. The onsite SOCODEVI team and the Peruvians welcomed me and were very open to all the recommendations I made throughout my mission. I also spent most of my mission working with Joëlle Bernard, another Quebecer who has lived in Peru for over a year and is the project management assistant. Joëlle was my interpreter and more than that, she was an indispensable guide and travel companion during this discovery-filled journey.

Things I couldn’t fit in the story, but that struck me:

  • Losing my luggage arriving in Lima, and getting it back only four days later
  • All the times I struggled to make myself understood with my very basic Spanish
  • The daylight, the smells, and the colours of the city
  • Arriving in spring while it was fall in Québec
  • The road between Trujillo and Lima across a breathtaking desert as far as the eye could see
  • Staying a few nights in Miraflores, a coastal district of Lima right on the Pacific Ocean—the water there is apparently freezing, but it’s a great spot to surf!
  • Tasting amazing ceviche, desserts with exotic flavours and colours, and sipping pisco cocktails (a traditional Peruvian drink)
  • The stunning landscape of the Sacred Valley of the Incas
  • My “climb” up Machu Picchu—the highlight of my trip!

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank my employer, Promutuel Insurance, for giving me the opportunity to complete this project at the other end of the Americas, and to once again emphasize its commitment to cooperation and teamwork! 

semaine de la coopération Promutuel assurance