Home / Article / Business Training Program “Proyecto Salta” Reaches Goal of Educating 100,000 Peruvian Women

Business Training Program “Proyecto Salta” Reaches Goal of Educating 100,000 Peruvian Women


Proyecto Salta’s 100,000th graduate,María Zulema Ballona Morante, pictured center.

Free business training has been provided to 100,000 women entrepreneurs in Peru, marking the goal of an initiative of the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), Grupo ACP, Mibanco, Thunderbird School of Global Management, and the Australian government through Australian Aid. The program, called Proyecto Salta or “Project Leap” was launched in 2010 and aimed to train micro and small-scale entrepreneurs in a country with one of the highest percentages of female entrepreneurs in the world.

“Training this many women to start and grow small businesses is a huge accomplishment,” said Kellie Kreiser, Executive Director of Thunderbird’s social impact initiative Thunderbird for Good. “Women entrepreneurs have been proven to be powerful economic drivers, and I expect that Peru will see benefits from this newly educated group. We are delighted to have partnered with so many impressive organizations to achieve something that will have such a meaningful impact.”

Proyecto Salta made news after its initial launch for its creative delivery. The program offered women a new approach to learning business concepts through the incredibly popular telenovela format. The format was adapted to provide much more than just entertainment—instead, offering real business skills training. Each of the three seasons of the telenovela, called “El Gran Salto” or “The Big Leap,” followed the trials and tribulations of a main character as she struggled to run her own business. In the second season it was a woman named Pilar, a feisty and independent owner of a Lima-based catering business. As the star navigated several business obstacles, viewers were exposed to constructive lessons, such as how to create a balance sheet, basic marketing tips and accounting essentials.

Thunderbird professor Christine Pearson, Ph.D., helped to create the program’s educational framework and materials, which were then developed into a telenovela. Pearson says the story lines and characters featured in the telenovela mirrored experiences that participants could relate to and captured their attention. “Gasps from the audience were audible when challenges intensified on screen,” she said, “and you could always hear a collective sigh of relief when problems were eventually resolved.” Pearson explained that because the central characters in the telenovela were patterned after participants, their triumph over business and family hardships helped the women to feel like they too could prevail.

“Women in Peru and the region are strongly entrepreneurial,” said Nancy Lee, General Manager of the Multilateral Investment Fund. “Surveys suggest that 31 percent of women in the region, 44 percent for Peru, intend to start businesses in the next three years. Most do so because they see opportunity. Giving these motivated women the skills they need to grow their businesses will generate disproportionate gains for the region. Proyecto Salta demonstrates that relatively short but innovative training programs can have real benefits and are scalable.”

The training was delivered to groups of about 200 women at a time through seminars in various cities throughout Peru. Combined with one-on-one mentoring, access to microloans and other educational resources, the program has made a huge impact. A study by the independent organization International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) was conducted during the second year of the program and found that women who had completed the group training were able to better track their income and manage their businesses. The study also showed a significant increase in the number of women paying themselves a fixed salary.

Thunderbird MBA students helped with the mentoring element of the program, providing more than 4,000 hours of one-on-one or small-group mentoring to 591 women entrepreneurs throughout the duration of the initiative. Each summer a new group of students was sent to Peru to spend three months meeting with business owners in different districts in and around Lima.

Patricia Magallanes, a baker based in Callao, was one of the program participants paired with a Thunderbird MBA student consultant in the summer of 2013. The student, Richard Carter, helped Magallanes with a cash flow statement, pricing and competitive analysis, and a marketing plan that focused on what differentiated her product.

“When I began to work with Patricia, her potential was immediately apparent,” said Carter. Before Magallanes had children she had worked in a professional setting as an office assistant and he was impressed to see that she already knew the basics of sales and customer service. However, he noticed that the knowledge wasn’t translating into her business. “Despite her knowledge and experience, she hadn’t been able to apply it to help her business grow. Her confidence in her business abilities was lacking.  During our time working together, we were able to not only reinforce her knowledge of things like cash flow statements and budgets, but also increase her self-confidence.”

As a result of the consulting and the lessons taught through Proyecto Salta, Magallanes told Carter she was able to boost her cake sales from 30 per month to 80 per month in just about four weeks’ time and planned to implement new ideas that would help her more effectively market and manage her business.

Magallanes is one of many women who found value in the mentoring program. In December 2013, Peruvian company SASE Consultores completed a study that found 75 percent of women who were surveyed after receiving Proyecto Salta mentorship were able to better analyze their businesses. In addition, more than 30 percent reported an increase in sales and 24 percent had reduced their costs since implementing the suggested changes in their businesses.

Proyecto Salta was the first component completed as part of a larger project called Strengthening Women Entrepreneurship in Peru (SWEP). SWEP’s second component, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Peru, also reached its goal in December 2013. Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Peru is a business certificate program for small-business owners that aimed to provide 700 women with access to advanced business education, international networks, monitoring and capital. Thunderbird also helped to develop the curriculum for that program, which ultimately graduated 728 women.

A closing event encompassing both of the SWEP training programs is the third and final component. The event is planned for late February 2014 in Lima, Peru, and will include opportunities to examine the overall project experience, share lessons learned and foster debate around women entrepreneurship development. Participants from bothProyecto Salta and 10,000 Women will be invited to the closing event, along with government officials, microfinance institutions and nonprofit organizations working to support women’s entrepreneurship and economic development. 


Media Resources:


Proyecto Salta’s 100,000th woman recognized — The name of the 100,000th entrepreneur from The Big Leap (El Gran Salto) seminar is Maria Zulema Ballona Morante, an AVON consultant.

El Gran Salto Telenovela (Episode 2) — This is the second episode of El Gran Salto (The Big Leap), a telenovela that premiered in August 2011 as part of Proyecto Salta.


Proyecto Salta Photos — Photos from all aspects of Proyecto Salta, including the 100,000th woman to complete the training.


Media Contact:

Virginia Mungovan

602 978 7081


About Thunderbird School of Global Management

Thunderbird is the world’s No.1-ranked school of international business with nearly 70 years of experience in developing leaders with the global mindset, business skills and social responsibility necessary to create real, sustainable value for their organizations, communities and the world. Dedicated to preparing students to be global leaders and committed global citizens, Thunderbird was the first graduate business school to adopt an official Professional Oath of Honor. Thunderbird is sought out by graduate students, working professionals and companies worldwide seeking to gain the leadership skills they need to succeed in today’s global economy. For more about Thunderbird, please visit:

About the Multilateral Investment Fund

The Multilateral Investment Fund/MIF, funded by 39 donors, supports private sector-led development benefitting the poor - their businesses, their farms, and their households. The aim is to give low-income populations the tools to boost their incomes: access to markets and the skills to compete in those markets, access to finance, and access to basic services, including green technology.It is the largest international technical assistance provider to the private sector in Latin America and the Caribbean and always works with local, mostly private partners to help fund and execute projects - civil society organizations, industry associations, foundations, universities, cooperatives, companies, and financial institutions. For more information, please visit:

About Grupo ACP

Grupo ACP is a leading Latin American corporation with a Social Mission that defines poverty as a set of exclusions. Exclusion from knowledge, capital, insurance, decent housing, health and markets, from communications and technology. For each of these exclusions, Grupo ACP creates a specialized company that provides access. And this set of companies gives entrepreneurs at the bottom of the pyramid, the tools they need to start making their dreams come true.

The Group´s education and training outfit, Aprenda creates and disseminates knowledge among microbusiness professionals and entrepreneurs. Aprenda designs and implements training projects and business training for entrepreneurs and microenterprises in partnership with private and multilateral organizations. Aprenda also works on value chain development for bigger companies. The entity trains more than 26,000 persons every year. It fosters a culture of sound values and business excellence. Since its inception, Aprenda has trained more than 200,000 people in Peru, Mexico and Uruguay. For more information about Aprenda, please visit or

About Mi Banco

Mi Banco is the leading bank in Peru’s microfinance sector, with the mission to offer micro and small business entrepreneurs fast and ready access to credit. Today, the bank has more than 500,000 clients and 112 agencies throughout the country. Mibanco is recognized for its fast growth and its outstanding performance in promoting bank usage in the country, particularly in rural areas.  For more information about MiBanco, please visit

 About Australian Aid

The Australian Government’s overseas aid program is improving the lives of millions of people in developing countries. Australia is working with the governments and people of developing countries to deliver aid where it is most needed and most effective. For more information, please visit