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Unique, Interactive Online Business Program Helps Women in Latin American Mining Communities

Thunderbird partners to reach 3,400 women with Freeport-McMoRan program


DreamBuilder graduate Hilda Tamayo with the Minister of Chile’s National Women Services (SERNAM), Carolina Schmidt Zaldiva, at the Candelaria graduation ceremony in Copiapó, Chile on January 28, 2013

Interviews, quizzes and telenovelas sound more like content in an online pop culture magazine than a business management course, but it’s these unique interactive tools that an online business skills training and certification program will employ when it launches this month in several Chilean and Peruvian mining communities. The new program titled DreamBuilder: The Women’s Business Creator, was developed through a partnership between Phoenix-basedFreeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (FCX), Thunderbird School of Global Management and Bluedrop Performance Learning.

Spearheaded by Freeport-McMoRan, DreamBuilderaims to help women entrepreneurs from the mining communities in which the company operates turn their dreams of starting or growing their own businesses into reality with the goal of increasing their economic prosperity.

The targeted mining communities of Tierra Amarilla, Copiapό, Caldera and Calama, Chile and Arequipa, Peru have high levels of un­employment and poverty, and high numbers of women-headed households. DreamBuilder specifically looks to help the population of women sometimes referred to as “the missing middle.” These are women who own small or medium-sized businesses and simply need additional support to increase their success and income. In recent years, a growing body of research indicates that efforts to increase economic opportunities for women can have lasting impact on communities, alleviate certain social problems and contribute to sustainable social development.

“We are so pleased to be able to increase our commitment to women, their economic empowerment and the opportunity to make a substantial and lasting investment in the sustainable development of the respective regions targeted for the roll-out of the DreamBuilder program,” said Tracy Bame, Director of Social Responsibility & Community Development for Freeport-McMoRan and President of the Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation. “Using a technology solution to serve entrepreneurial development needs at the base of the pyramid in many ways is uncharted territory.”

Freeport-McMoRan turned to Thunderbird, the world’s No. 1-ranked international business school, to create the course content and manage the program. Thunderbird’s philanthropic arm, Thunderbird for Good, focuses on educating businesswomen in developing countries and has helped provide business training to more than 75,000 women in 25 countries since 2005. The project is also supported by Bluedrop for development of the courseware. The goal of DreamBuilder is to reach 3,400 women in these initial markets over a period of five years and many thousands more across Chile and Peru once the program is rolled out nationally.

DreamBuilder consists of 12 online courses that can be completed at the participant’s own pace, on any computer with Internet access, at any time. Core business management topics such as business planning, market research, marketing, budgeting, accounting, financial reporting, branding, pricing, cus­tomer service, human resources, and goal setting are covered in fun and interactive ways. The program incorporates activities, quizzes and telenovelas to teach and test comprehension of business concepts. Testimonials from successful women entre­preneurs from Latin America with whom the participants can relate are also incorporated in the courses.

Throughout the program, participants are given opportunities to capture their thoughts and ideas through directive questions that feed their answers into a business plan portal tool. At the end of the program, the participants can use the tool to generate their own actual business plans. 

DreamBuilder was designed to run smoothly in a low-bandwidth environment, and women who don’t have personal computers can gain access to them through partner organizations within the communities. These local partners also are in charge of recruiting women and implementing the program in their regions. 

In addition, Freeport-McMoRan has invested in computers and Internet access that are now available to residents in its Chilean and Peruvian operating communities. The company will continue to invest in these tools to ensure DreamBuilder is accessible to the greatest number of women. This investment in technology also provides a range of additional uses and learning opportunities for local communities.

“DreamBuilder allows partner organizations to integrate their existing programs or services, and – thanks to the partner organizations’ already established networks – provides the women with enhanced business skills, and a broader business network,” said Thunderbird for Good’s Nathan Ulberg, the program manager for DreamBuilder. “The partner organizations host DreamBuilder courses to encourage brainstorming and cross-pollination of ideas, and the technology behind the learning platform allows for ongoing interaction. Built-in social applications, including online chat, event scheduling and the ability to follow one another’s postings all contribute to building connections we hope will last long after the women graduate from the program.”

DreamBuilder was first announced as a commitment by Freeport-McMoRan at the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative. In August 2012, 78 women from the targeted communities were enrolled in a beta version of the program. Those women are already seeing the positive impact of the program in their businesses.

“My business has changed 100 percent,” said Jimena Beatriz Salas Cancino. “You can see in my notebook the changes I’ve made. I am more organized, I’ve gotten more business. Now no one can stop me!”

América Cristina Tito Paz said Dreambuilder helped her to better plan for improvements to her business. “I have since purchased new equipment in order to improve the ambiance in my computer lab. Now I am earning more and have a store that I can be proud of.”

The women also complimented the delivery of the program.

“The methodology was very clear, precise and easy to understand,” said Nelly Puertas Gallegos. “Any person at any level can learn from this program!”

Pilar Antonieta Apaza Huaman said, “Lucrecia’s story in the telenovela was very inspiring and relatable. Learning her story helped me to change my own story for the better. I am strong and more confident because of it.”

Freeport-McMoRan and Thunderbird are planning to make the DreamBuilder program available nationally in Chile and Peru. That expansion is expected to start later in 2013.

Media can contact Virginia Mungovan at or (602) 978-7081 for more information about Thunderbird’s involvement in this program.


About Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.

Freeport-McMoRan is a leading international mining company with headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona. Freeport-McMoRan operates large, long-lived, geographically diverse assets with significant proven and probable reserves of copper, gold and molybdenum. Freeport-McMoRan has a dynamic portfolio of operating, expansion and growth projects in the copper industry and is the world’s largest producer of molybdenum. The company’s portfolio of assets includes the Grasberg minerals district, one of the world’s largest copper and gold mine in terms of recoverable reserves; significant mining operations in the Americas, including the large scale Morenci and Safford minerals districts in North America and the Cerro Verde and El Abra operations in South America; and the Tenke Fungurume minerals district in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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 equipping global leaders with the business skills and global mindset necessary to create sustainable prosperity worldwide. For more about Thunderbird, visit

About Bluedrop Performance Learning

Bluedrop Performance Learning (TSX-V: BPL) is an innovator in workplace training for individuals, corporations, military personnel and the public sector. The company was launched in 2004 and has more than 100 employees in six offices across Canada. Bluedrop is transforming workplace learning by designing and delivering training content that enables individuals to improve their skills and their employers to increase productivity. is Bluedrop’s cloud-based training delivery platform and contains more than 5,000 third-party online courses from the world’s leading publishers and subject matter experts. Launched in 2011, the CoursePark platform is growing quickly, with registered users in more than 100 countries. For more information, visit