Colombian Cauca Local Economic Development project in review


Another year has passed, where travel and meeting restrictions were not as permanent as we expected and therefore, we were able to resume many face-to-face activities. In the past year it was possible again to work with the different organizations in the municipalities and continue with the project objective.

To close year 3 of the CLED project, we would like to summarize some of the activities that took place:

Participatory Rural Innovation Training
In March, the rural innovation training was resumed in person in the municipality of Silvia with the following new producer organizations:

  • Coomuren, the coffee association of the municipality of Caldono.
  • Nasa Café, the coffee Association in Pitayó, Silvia
  • Misak el Tejar, Ecotourism Association of the Municipality of Silvia.
  • Piedra Santa, Tourism Association in Pitayó, Silvia

In August, the workdays with the project partner´s officers started at ESAP facilities in Popayán. Besides the project partners, the Departmental Committee of Coffee Growers also attended. The participant associations´ premises were visited to apply the tool "signs of progress", which consists of a participatory assessment for the main managerial functions that must be performed within a rural, associative enterprise. the purpose of this assessment was to build trust between institutions and rural enterprises, strengthen cooperation capabilities to find ways to solve the problems jointly and use the educational institutions' resources.

The second training phase for the participating associations in the municipality of Silvia was held in September. The associations were visited in their territories again a month later to follow up on the implementation of the "innovation route" for the workgroups and strategic guidance. The last session was held at the FUP´s headquarters where San José Cloister in Popayan; Silvia and Caldono associations´ members attended. This process was assessed in a participatory manner, and the consensus was satisfactory regarding the lessons provided and the inputs learned. Project partners acknowledged that the new methodologies allowed them to improve their facilitation processes in the different interventions carried out in the field. Rural associations appreciated the importance or learning and implementing managerial tools for good business practices and how relevant these are to acquire soft skills such as leadership, communication, and teamwork.

Promoting Triple Helix models for Tourism in Silvia and Totoro
Following the prioritized issues in the proposal, meeting days were held between August and November with officers of the project partners, the local governments of Silvia and Totoró, and the tourism enterprises from both locations. The purpose was to strengthen the governance schemes in the tourism industry and promote triple helix agreements. Some participatory methodologies were implemented in the first sessions, and it allowed tourism enterprises and educational institutions to provide contributions and inputs to identify and mention the following aspects:

  • Touristic product offer
  • Short, medium, and long-term goals.
  • Stakeholder mapping
  • Barriers
  • Desired tourist profile

A strategic map was prepared according to the inputs generated during the workshops, in which the "strategic capital" of the territory was analyzed: infrastructure, natural capital, cultural capital, intellectual capital, brand and relational capital. The tool also identified key processes such as governance, strategy, alliances, management, communication and monitoring.

The accompaniment to consolidate the governance scheme in the municipality of Silvia and the design and planning for the municipality of Totoró under the triple helix model has allowed sensitizing the participating communities in both localities about the pivotal role of the academy and educational institutions. ESAP is interested in assisting the formulation of tourism public policy for the municipality of Silvia and SENA mentioned  a  need to review whether its academic programs meet the current expectations for the tourism entrepreneurs and the community.

The natural capital located in both municipalities is of high potential, and it is a key to undertaking actions and policies for protecting these strategic assets. The project partners need to play a prominent role in these tasks. The idea of ​​deepening or consolidating the regions brand was discussed,  and implementing strategies to get a great national and international positioning. The outputs of this intervention are input for formulating the public policy on tourism in the municipality.

II Seminar on Conflict and Peace Studies
In 2020, when we were immersed in the pandemic and all the global restrictions that this has entailed, we held the first version of the Conflict and Peace Studies seminar, aimed at officers from partner institutions and beneficiaries of the CLED project. At that time, the seminar was held online through the Zoom platform, given the impossibility of a face-to-face meeting.

The second version of the seminar took place face-to-face in the city of Popayán on December 9. The II Seminar on Conflict and Peace Studies focused on methodological aspects of research in this area. It had two modules: the first one, led by Dr. Daniel Castaño Zapata (University of Medellín), discussed precisely the methodological foundations for social research. The second module, led by Dr. Chris van der Borgh (Utrecht University), was about the practice of field research.

The seminar took place at the Fundación Universitaria de Popayán (FUP) headquarters, The San José Cloister, and several of the participants of the first session attended, as well as other professionals from SENA, FUP, and ESAP. Some students from the University of Medellin also participated in this seminar; as part of their research training process.

Training research assistants
As part of the capacity-building process, the CLED project has also involved undergraduate students as research assistants. Indeed, three Political Science students from the University of Medellin have collaborated and participated in the project as part of their training as academic researchers.

These three students have carried out research support tasks: they have helped plan the field trips, they have tracked down secondary sources to complement the information compiled by the project's researchers, and they also attended the II Seminar on Conflict and Peace Studies, which took place in the city of Popayán on December 9, 2021. 2021.

The University of Medellin has recognized these students for their work on the CLED project as equivalent to their degree work.

We also were supported by an intern from Maastricht School of Management, who, despite the distance, was a key in assisting activities related to assessing gender perception on the project's partner institutions. Her thesis was based on this work, and we highly appreciated her input.

2022 will be the last year of the CLED project. We appreciate all partners and benificiaries collaboration and hope to have your support to finish the scheduled activities and reflect together on the lessons learned during this period.

About the project
The Cauca Local Economic Development (CLED) project is managed by Maastricht School of Management (MSM) and promotes sustainable peace and economic development by integrating entrepreneur / livelihood capacity building and peacebuilding activities in its three project phases: mapping, capacity building, and incubation/roll out. The project develops a Triple Helix+ framework for integrating capacity building, peace building and rural economic development in a holistic, inclusive and sustainable manner. MSM, along with UU-CC and the University of Medellin (UdeM), will work with key Colombian partners (the University Foundation of Popayan (FUP), National Service for Learning (SENA), Higher School for Public Management (ESAP), and the Regional Centre for Productivity and Innovation of Cauca (CREPIC)) to implement the CLED project in three rural Municipalities: Caldono, Tororo, and Silvia. Taking a Train the Trainer approach, the project will capacitate FUP, SENA, ESAP and CREPIC to be more effective training, research and extension organizations, with improved capabilities in offering market based and conflict sensitive programs. The approach will address the educational and opportunity gap in the project area while promoting and documenting peace building and economic development lessons learned.

Orange Knowledge Programme
This project is part of the Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP) which is funded by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and managed by Nuffic. For more information click here.

MSM's Expert Centre for Emerging Economies

This institutional collaboration project is part of MSM's Expert Centre for Emerging Economies. The department is an expert centre on local economic development in emerging and developing markets.​ We capacitate managers and professionals from government, private sector, NGOs, and post-secondary education in Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Latin America. We offer consultancy and customized training programs, and we manage complex projects in key sectors, e.g. water, agriculture and health. For more information click here.

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