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Aaron and Abby's Adventures

World Wide Wonderings

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Mon
30
Jan '17

5 years and a lifetime ago

backpackers

So young, so naive, so 5 years ago…

It’s been almost 2.5 years since my last post on World Wide Wonderings, and this month marks 5 years from when we left for our first South American Adventure in Ecuador and Colombia.

While all of that feels like an eternity ago (and reminds me how bad I am at keeping up with my writing!), there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about that trip. It set in motion a vision and plan that we have been eagerly (and admittedly slowly) pursuing.

When we made the decision to leave South America in 2012 after what we’ve dubbed our “vision trip,” we did so with a very deliberate plan to return.  Our plan was to return home, gain the skills we needed and get back “to the field” as soon as possible. While we had a few additional steps along the way (ok, who am I kidding?! Mainly the addition of a walking, talking tiny human being named Andrew who brings us more joy than words can explain), we have never wavered from our vision to return to Latin America and start a social enterprise.

And, so, it is with great excitement (and a whole lot of apprehension!) that I get to tell you that we are headed out! We are moving to Cusco, Peru and leave in one week (Eeeek!)! We will be continuing our work to bring financing options to rural farmers and can’t wait to start meeting with actual farmers and organizations again – Lots more on the business later!

We’ll have more details and updates soon, but we wanted to take a minute to thank every one of you who has supported us over the past 5 years. We thrive on your words of encouragement and appreciate you letting us share our journey with you!

baby in toy car

This kid is ready to roll!

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Tue
15
Jul '14

What’s Next?

What's next? sign

This evening, Aaron and the rest of the Growing Capital Team will return from Nicaragua. I hope that you have been able to follow the adventure on our Facebook page , but, in any case, it has been an amazing trip, filled with great connections and loads of learning.

farmer meeting

Don Pedro discussing the challenges of market access

A few highlights:

  • Meetings with Farmers: Throughout the weeks in Nicaragua, the team spent time with more than 10 farmers, hearing their concerns, discussing the current situation and brainstorming solutions. We were thoroughly impressed how knowledgeable the farmers’ were and appreciated their honesty whenever we discussed our ideas. We know it’s cliche, but there is no substitute to talking to people!
  • Meetings with Organizations: We also had the opportunity to meet with many organizations doing absolutely incredible things. One that was very encouraging to me was iDEal, a social enterprise working to sell drip irrigation systems throughout Nicaragua. They identified that one of their big challenges was finding financing for the farmers who could not afford the systems outright.
  • Business school presentation: We were also lucky enough to get to present the Growing Capital idea to a group of about 80 students at INCAE, one of the leading business schools in Latin America. The feedback and encouragement we received has been helping us to further refine our model and it was awesome to hear from students who were familiar with the cultural context of Latin America.

While I am beyond excited to have Aaron back home, we have been struggling a bit with the “What now?” piece of the puzzle. This trip has provided us with so much information and so many new ideas that we need to look into. However, it can be really difficult to see the path forward from here. What do we do next? How do we pilot the program? Are we ready to pilot the program? How do we need to modify the model?

These questions have been gnawing at the back our minds and I was afraid that as soon as Aaron returned home, we would be struggling to know what to do and we would risk stagnation in our venture.  However, as has been the case lately, God just keeps opening up the doors for us, helping us to know not only that we should keep moving forward, but showing us how. To that end, last week, Aaron and I found out that we have been accepted into the Venture Accelerator Program at CSU!

This program is sponsored by the Institute for Entrepreneurship and is a 16 week course focused on developing your venture and getting it ready for a successful launch. The timing could not be more perfect for us, and we are very excited to have the support, network and, when needed, swift kick in the rear that the program will provide us.

Below is the video we submitted as part of our application to this program. We think it does a pretty good job explaining what our vision is, but we’d love to hear from you about our idea!

Growing Capital Venture Accelerator Video

Wed
4
Jun '14

Normal?

When Aaron and I first left for our South American Adventure in Spring 2012, I think in the back of our minds, we both kind of thought that this would end up just being one of those “great experiences” that you talk about for the rest of your life. We would come home, get regular jobs and every few months, reminisce about some funny story from our trip. Life would return to “normal.”

Oh, how wrong we were. Somehow, 6 months of travel really gets under your skin and changes who you are. There was no more normal for us.

And now, here we are, in Colorado with Aaron pursuing an MBA focused on solving some of the world’s most stubborn issues.Growing Capital Logo

Except that, Aaron isn’t even here! On Monday, Aaron began his trip to Nicaragua, where he will be spending the next 6 weeks working on our business venture, Growing Capital.

As completely crazy as this can sometimes seem, we cannot imagine life any other way. We feel we are where we should be, gaining the skills we’ll need for the next step. We don’t yet know what that next step will be, but this uncertainty has become the new normal for us and we are beyond excited about it!

So, get ready, Round Two of our WorldWideWonderings is about to begin!  This time, hopefully we’ll have a lot more clarity and purpose, but of course, continuing to share with you the joys of traveling!

fb likeWhile Aaron is gone, he and his team (and occasionally, yours truly) will be updating their venture Facebook page. If you would like to be included in these updates, be sure to Like their page: https://www.facebook.com/GrowingCapitalLatAm