March 21, 2003: Headlines: COS - Mali: Business Development: PCVs in the Field - Mali: Paciic Business News: PCV Steven Chang works in Business Development in Mali

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Mali: Peace Corps Mali : The Peace Corps in Mali: March 21, 2003: Headlines: COS - Mali: Business Development: PCVs in the Field - Mali: Paciic Business News: PCV Steven Chang works in Business Development in Mali

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Sunday, January 16, 2005 - 1:59 pm: Edit Post

PCV Steven Chang works in Business Development in Mali

PCV Steven Chang works in Business Development in Mali

Peace Corps recruits business expertise
Prabha Natarajan Pacific Business News

It was a daily ritual for Steven Chang and Bourama Dembele to sip green tea with sugar in a shot glass and talk about Dembele's store in Dougoulo, Mali.

"He was my best friend in Mali," Chang said. "He owned a convenience store and had about 30 products on his shelves. It was smaller than the cosmetics section at Longs. I saw him every day. We talked about how much money the store made, where do you want to take the shop, ideas he had for the shop analyzed sales and revenue. I think after two years I helped him become a better businessman."

Chang traveled to Dougoulo, a village of 4,500 people, as a Peace Corps volunteer after graduating from the University of Hawaii with a business administration degree about three years ago. He's among 410 Hawaii residents who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961.

The Peace Corps thinks it can recruit more volunteers from Hawaii, especially specialists in business development. It opened a recruiting office at the UH-Manoa campus last month in a bid to increase the number of volunteers and raise awareness of its various programs.

"There usually are not a lot of Hawaii volunteers as there is not [as much] interest here as on the East or West coasts," said Sydney Iaukea, Hawaii's Peace Corps recruiter.

That's one of the reasons the San Francisco regional office, which oversees Hawaii, decided to open an office here.

"People have the impression that Peace Corps volunteers are social workers and community workers," Iaukea said. "There are many positions for business advisers who can help set up small businesses in small communities, teach technical skills like how to do a startup plan and different levels of business planning, and train people with basic skills on how to run a business.

"It's sustainable development," he said. "We don't have a lot of tools and just have our basic knowledge and willingness to put together whatever the community wants from us."

A Peace Corps volunteer typically invests three years and three months in an overseas project and spends two years of that time in a community within a foreign country. The Peace Corps pays for transportation to the country, a monthly allowance, medical coverage, 24 vacation days annually, and $6,075 after the completion of service.

Iaukea plans to talk to the UH business school to generate interest in Peace Corps programs that develop entrepreneurial skills and credit programs for women.

That's how Chang heard about the Peace Corps and got recruited to go to Mali in West Africa.

"I was interested in doing some kind of consulting work for small businesses, interact with entrepreneurs and work with them on a personal level," said Chang, whose previous business experience was helping his father operate a manapua truck in Kaneohe.

Chang worked for Nyesigiso, a savings and loan operation in Mali, as Dougoulo's community liaison for two years. Nearly 80 percent of the villagers live on subsistence farming and have no money to spend on goods, or to set up a business. However, Dougoulo is a regional business center thanks to the weekly fair that brings vendors and shoppers from 10-15 neighboring villages.

"There were more stores and entrepreneurs in my village," Chang said. "Most of them have their own mom-and-pop operations, primarily convenience stores, which sell tea, sugar, cookies, matches and slippers.

"My task was to help them out with their business plan," he said, "and if they want to take out a loan help them understand what they were getting into and make sure they had a good business plan to follow up. I was basically out there to promote savings."

Most borrowers defaulted on loans business and personal because they didn't understand how the system worked and hadn't planned before taking the loan, Chang said. Nyesigiso, the savings and loan operation, made its profit on the 21 percent interest it charged on all loans.

"That rate had to exist for the operation to exist," Chang said. "Of those people who had taken out loans, some were in a good position to take a loan and make that kind of an interest payment. But for most, I was advising them to save a little bit at a time and eventually have enough so as to not take a loan. I was trying to run the savings and loan company out of business and telling people don't take loans and save instead."

Chang also taught an introductory business course to ninth graders at the local school to give them a head start in understanding the world of finance.

For all of this, Chang was paid a $130 monthly allowance and lived in a two-room mud hut with no running water or electricity.

Reach Prabha Natarajan at 955-8041 or

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Our debt to Bill Moyers Our debt to Bill Moyers
Former Peace Corps Deputy Director Bill Moyers leaves PBS next week to begin writing his memoir of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Read what Moyers says about journalism under fire, the value of a free press, and the yearning for democracy. "We have got to nurture the spirit of independent journalism in this country," he warns, "or we'll not save capitalism from its own excesses, and we'll not save democracy from its own inertia."

December 10, 2004: This Week's Top Stories December 10, 2004: This Week's Top Stories
Dodd says Rumsfeld's answer was unacceptable 9 Dec
RPCV Blake Willeford runs classic movie theatre 9 Dec
RPCV says education is key to curbing AIDS 9 Dec
RPCV Dannielle Tegeder opens exhibition 9 Dec
Shalala 1st Woman In Touchdown Club 9 Dec
"Today we have a new country" says Toledo 9 Dec
DDN wins Investigative Reporting Award 8 Dec
Celeste on Panel to study Colorado finances 8 Dec
RPCV leads Rotary Club medical team to Togo 6 Dec
Vasquez to speak at Hawaii, Wisconsin commencements 6 Dec
Tom Murphy warns Pittsburgh on budget abyss 2 Dec
Venezuela RPCV Martha Egan runs Pachamama imports 30 Nov
more top stories...

RPCV safe after Terrorist Attack RPCV safe after Terrorist Attack
RPCV Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the U.S. consul general in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia survived Monday's attack on the consulate without injury. Five consular employees and four others were killed. Abercrombie-Winstanley, the first woman to hold the position, has been an outspoken advocate of rights for Arab women and has met with Saudi reformers despite efforts by Saudi leaders to block the discussions.
Is Gaddi Leaving? Is Gaddi Leaving?
Rumors are swirling that Peace Corps Director Vasquez may be leaving the administration. We think Director Vasquez has been doing a good job and if he decides to stay to the end of the administration, he could possibly have the same sort of impact as a Loret Ruppe Miller. If Vasquez has decided to leave, then Bob Taft, Peter McPherson, Chris Shays, or Jody Olsen would be good candidates to run the agency. Latest: For the record, Peace Corps has no comment on the rumors.
The Birth of the Peace Corps The Birth of the Peace Corps
UMBC's Shriver Center and the Maryland Returned Volunteers hosted Scott Stossel, biographer of Sargent Shriver, who spoke on the Birth of the Peace Corps. This is the second annual Peace Corps History series - last year's speaker was Peace Corps Director Jack Vaughn.
Vote "Yes" on NPCA's bylaw changes Vote "Yes" on NPCA's bylaw changes
Take our new poll. NPCA members begin voting this week on bylaw changes to streamline NPCA's Board of Directors. NPCA Chair Ken Hill, the President's Forum and other RPCVs endorse the changes. Mail in your ballot or vote online (after Dec 1), then see on how RPCVs are voting.
Charges possible in 1976 PCV slaying Charges possible in 1976 PCV slaying
Congressman Norm Dicks has asked the U.S. attorney in Seattle to consider pursuing charges against Dennis Priven, the man accused of killing Peace Corps Volunteer Deborah Gardner on the South Pacific island of Tonga 28 years ago. Background on this story here and here.
Your vote makes a difference Your vote makes a difference
Make a difference on November 2 - Vote. Then take our RPCV exit poll. See how RPCV's are voting and take a look at the RPCV voter demographic. Finally leave a message on why you voted for John Kerry or for George Bush. Previous poll results here.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Paciic Business News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Mali; Business Development; PCVs in the Field - Mali



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.