by Darren Moon.
I arrived to Lima on June 26th and began my internship – as an Emzingo Fellow – the following day at Asesorandes, a small financial consulting firm. My project involves helping them understand and promote a new tax law (OxI) in Lima, that allows corporations to provide economic development – such as road building, providing clean water, schools, and hospitals – with part of their income tax instead of paying it to the government.
Fortunately, as it’s quite challenging, I’m working with some very nice, well-connected people from whom I’m learning a lot. I’m discovering how Peru’s business culture works, as well as understanding their social dynamics, and ways to overcome weaknesses and exploit strengths in this new law.
I’ve learnt that most people in Peru are quite poor; with the current system, being born into the right family is everything here. I’ve been told only a handful of families hold the majority of wealth and power in the country, and that corruption and inequality are still a big problem here. Peru is one of the “tigers” of Latin America with over an average 6-7% GDP growth rate the past 10 years. Unfortunately, even with strong growth, most people here are still poor; and the government is not using effectively (if at all) the extra tax revenue generated by the mining industry.
The after mentioned OxI law aims to put more of those tax revenues directly to use by the rural poor communities instead of getting caught up in bureaucratic messes or in the pockets of corrupt politicians.
During the first days of July, our group visited a school, setup by a foundation, in a really poor area called Pachacutec. We met 15 and 16 year olds who were really interested in learning about all of us, where we come from, why we chose to do the MBA and why on Earth we took the time to go out of our way to visit Pachacutec!
Driving through some very downtrodden areas to get to the school made me realize that the majority of children growing up in this area probably have little to no chance to go to a university or gain skills that will allow them a better life than their parents.
I feel extremely privileged and grateful to have grown up where I grew up; I am deeply saddened recognizing that so many economically disadvantaged people, around the world, will never have the opportunities that I do simply because of where they were born.
The children in Pachacutec who are fortunate enough to be supported by this foundation, that provides academics and trades which will allow them to have a much better future, have an incredible opportunity to escape from poverty, and it’s clear that they are highly motivated.
I’m certain that there are plenty of capable, talented children that aren’t taught to care about their grades or learn skills, and instead get caught in a life of poverty, gangs, and criminal activity. I’m very thankful that I live in a country that permits me, and the kids I grew up with, have a chance to make a decent honest living. Heck, even the kids that underperformed at my school have still found a way to have a pretty high quality of life.
It’s heartbreaking that so few children in rural Peru, and many other parts of the world, live in system that offers not enough chances to escape poverty.