Wells Fargo Global Fellow Theresa Alvarez: My First Week in Medellin

Theresa Alvarez is spending five weeks in Medellin, Colombia as part of Wells Fargo's Global Fellows program. Theresa is one of six Wells Fargo team members volunteering at Grameen Foundation Latin America. While in Colombia, Theresa will conduct a market and risk analysis assessment that will help Grameen Foundation develop and provide appropriate financial service offerings for smallholder farmers enabling them to improve their businesses and livelihoods.


Wow! What an intense week of traveling, reading, learning, meeting people, and getting acclimated to the altitude of the beautiful Andes mountains. I have learned about coffee production, microfinance corporations in Colombia, banks, and all of the Grameen Foundation programs that help small coffee farmers access credit. Pilar and I put together a high-level work plan that outlines who we will be meeting with, and everything we will
be doing in the next four weeks.

Our Work Plan:

Week 1: Meet team, introductions, onboarding, background information, research, develop work plan, identify four financial service providers week will be meeting with while they are there, and agree on deliverables

Week 2: Present work plan to director, continue research, schedule meetings with financial service providers, have first meeting with Interactuar, a micro-credit lender, begin first draft of final report.

Week 3: Wrap up meetings with Interactuar, COOCAFISA, Banco Agrario, and World Women's Bank; work on draft of final report

Week 4: Follow up visits, review draft with Grameen Foundation.

Week 5: Wrap up, polish report, and turn in final report.

On a personal note, I found a friend who is living here that I haven't seen in eight years. When I saw her, I was literally in tears of happiness and joy. I had lunch in her home, and spent time with her children, which made me miss mine all the more. The best part of the weekend has been long Skype chats with my kids. During the week, they were very rushed with all of their activities and school, while I was busy with work.

We took a trip to Parque Avi, an ecological park at the top of the mountains. We took the metro far out, and then a metro cable up into the fog over the mountains. When we came out of the fog, we were surrounded by pure beauty: birds, butterflies, and so many green plants and trees. What a beautiful country!