DUSTIN POH


As part of Endeavor’s Bain & Company externship program, consultants from Bain offices worldwide to work closely with Endeavor offices and Entrepreneurs on a variety of business development and operational projects. Externs represent top business talent trained in strategic, operational, and financial frameworks who can focus on high-priority initiatives without redirecting existing staff. Here, consultant Hirsh Shah reflects on his time spent working with Peruvian company La Grama. 

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As he reached to pick an avocado, a farmer told me, “This year because of El Niño we have had droughts, floods, and heat waves. Our harvest was much smaller than in past years. It’s becoming harder to predict the yield, which means it’s harder to predict our income.”

Thanks to Endeavor, my work in Peru tied together multiple topics that interest me: climate change, agriculture, economic development, and fresh produce. I spent three months working for La Grama this fall during a leave of absence from Bain & Co.

Based in Lima, Peru, La Grama is a for-profit enterprise on a social mission. The company trains smallholder farmers throughout Peru on organic cultivation methods and certifies their output as organic. La Grama then purchases and processes the crops to export them abroad. This process provides the farmers with access to foreign organic price points and increases their crop yields, all the while safeguarding soil quality.

Dressing up with the La Grama team on Halloween

“We want to turn La Grama from a 20th century company to a 21st century company,” Rodrigo Bedoya, Chairman and co-founder of La Grama, told me.

My mission was to design and execute a digital transformation strategy that would 1) Empower farmers to optimize their cultivation practices, and 2) Increase operational efficiency of La Grama’s processing facilities and export operations. The work taught me project management, and it felt fruitful – I worked with La Grama’s internal teams and the farmers themselves to build a nascent mobile platform for data collection, as well as a roadmap for the remaining implementation work.

Visiting local ginger farmers with La Grama.

I departed La Grama to spend a few months with Endeavor Peru, which opened in 2014, making it one of the younger offices in the network. Endeavor Peru is at an inflection point; the organization has ambitious expansion goals, and its rapid growth necessitates careful financial planning. I worked closely with the team to produce a cost forecasting model to assess how Endeavor needs to grow its revenue to achieve its performance targets. Like my time at La Grama, this project was a great way to flex both analytical and client management muscles, and I had a blast doing it; the Endeavor Peru team is a collaborative and fun group, constantly working cross-team and punctuating their discussions with outbursts of reggaeton.

Now back in the States, I have time to reflect on how unique and transformative my time was in Peru. Beyond the professional learnings, I had the chance to make lifelong friends, eat world-renown Peruvian cuisine, and absorb the sites and sounds of different regions of the country.

Career-wise, my adventures have led me to my upcoming job at a vertical farming startup. Vertical farming is partly aimed at providing fresh produce to major cities around the world using a fraction of the water of conventional farming. Situated indoors, it is also resistant to the pressures of climate change. My unconventional experience externing with La Grama made me aware of and keen on addressing these issues, and I am grateful to Endeavor for making it possible.

!Arriba Peru!

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