The United Nations offered senior Manuel Barrantes a grant for a business project of his on Feb. 18.
Barrantes was one of 20 undergraduate entrepreneurs who presented a business plan at the United Nations headquarters in New York City at its annual Sustainable Business Student Conference. Only the top three presenters received grants. Barrantes is finalizing paperwork to receive his grant, but said it should be between $1,500-$3,000.
Stipulations required that the plan be able to help society as a whole, ecology and individual people. Barrantes said he started thinking of his business plan when he interned in the Philippines for two months last year.
“I love (the Philippines) a lot, especially the people,” Barrantes said. “I want to help them not by aid, but by trade. I think aid creates dependency, and I want to help them in a different way where they can be entrepreneurs and know more about sustainable development and businesses. A lot of them struggle with poverty, and I know they can fight that.”
Barrantes’ business model revolves around teaching people from underdeveloped countries renewable energies. Senior Josh Joiner, an entrepreneur who said he wants to help put Barrantes’ plan into place in the Philippines, thinks solar panels would be particularly helpful.
“Josh wants to teach them how to use solar panels so they can start their own business,” Barrantes said. “One example is that the people from this island are good fishermen, but they don’t sell the fish they catch because they can’t freeze them. They don’t have any electricity. We want them to have solar panels so they can freeze their fish and sell it so they can make profits.”
Even though Barrantes believes he has a good plan, he said he is worried about how the plan is going to be implemented in the Philippines. He said that if it can be executed there, though, it can also be executed in his home country of Nicaragua, which is Barrantes’ ultimate goal is.
“In the Philippines, I have a lot of help,” Barrantes said. “I don’t have a lot of help in Nicaragua. I have my family there, but they don’t know anything about sustainable development. I was born there, but I don’t know where to find those people. In the Philippines, I already know a lot of those types of people.”
One of those people is Salvador Cariaga, an organizational host for case studies and business plans with the Center for Business as Mission. Barrantes said Cariaga has done work in the Philippines in the past and wishes to help Barrantes with his current plan.
“It has been a privilege working with (Barrantes) on this endeavor over the past two years,” Cariaga said in a Facebook post. “I encourage (people) to keep the team in prayers as we implement this plan in the Philippines this summer and beyond.”
Barrantes said he plans to use his grant money to buy solar panels and then sell the panels to people in the Philippines. He said he will put all of the money he makes into his future business plans in Nicaragua. He said he also plans on spending a lot of his time researching the Nicaraguan market. Before he graduates in 2017, he said he hopes to learn where resources are in Nicaragua and how to use them to help people.