Location: Tena, Ecuador
Duration: Minimum 2 months (flexible for min 2 weeks depending on intern’s qualifications), Maximum 1 year
Start Dates: Project is ongoing, and you can join at any time, depending upon availability
Cost: $450 USD for the first week, $250 for each additional week (2 month minimum is recommended) – see ‘Costs’ tab for further details
- Work closely with staff experienced in forest conservation, agroforestry, agronomy, participatory community development, social entrepreneurship, and marketing/communications.
- Hands-on experience in all of the above plus agriculture, landscape management, organic certifications, Fair Trade certification, indigenous rights, climate change mitigation, biodiversity monitoring, women’s empowerment, grant writing, and online marketing/media.
- Numerous research & dissertation opportunities available if requested, including Agricultural Economics, Social Entrepreneurship, Forest Conservation, Climate Change mitigation, Environmental Education, Agroforestry, Community Development, Indigenous Cultures, Gender Rights, and more.
- Participate in and help develop cultural exchange events including ecotourism, farm to table Amazonian forest foods meals, and guayusa tea ceremonies.
- Keywords: agroforestry, agricultural economics, biodiversity, sustainable development, research, community development, economic development, social entrepreneurship, climate change, indigenous groups, new product development, women’s empowerment.
College students, graduate students, industry professionals, and anyone interested in our work are warmly invited to the Ecuadorian Amazon to support our organization and/or conduct research in a number of areas related to forest conservation, biodiversity, community development, and sustainable development. Working with our dynamic NGO, indigenous communities, and other researchers and consultants, you have the opportunity to support participatory community development and conservation projects and expand a new, green industry in Ecuador that is already receiving national and international attention.
The NGO for which you will work provides direct market access, agroforestry training, and holistic development services to local indigenous Amazonian farming families, by leveraging Fair Trade partnerships to create sustainable social change. With a network of over 2,500 farming families, a 10 person staff, and a diverse network of advisors and consultants, our well-known organization is pioneering a social enterprise model that has the potential to transform local Ecuadorian economies and provide sustainable livelihoods for local people, while preserving the rainforest.
We have already planted over 1.2 million guayusa trees (a holly tree native to the Ecuadorian Amazon) and currently work with over 200 indigenous communities to develop new livelihood opportunities that enable families to increase their income while conserving their forests. Through the organization, farmers have an avenue to sell culturally significant, environmentally friendly, and economically valuable species, greatly reducing the need for farmers to degrade the protected primary forests they live beside. Through their collaboration with our NGO and Fair Trade, farmers learn conservation tactics as well as the skills they need to sustainably produce and sell certified native products – creating a system that is mutually beneficial to the local people and the forest.
You will be able to work together with locals in the Amazon, helping to build a new industry and commercial structure for guayusa and other non-timber forest products, learning from a pioneering social enterprise that has the potential to transform the way that indigenous people interact with the international economy
This is an opportunity for motivated, enthusiastic, and adventurous interns to work in the Amazon rainforest and help support the growth of a budding social enterprise with a unique social and environmental mission. You will have the chance to participate in groundbreaking research and innovative projects in a range of areas which are essential for the growth and development of guayusa and the local communities. This work is highly dynamic, field-based, collaborative, and exciting.
Our NGO’s mission is to create new value for native plants that benefit local people and the forest ecosystem. The guayusa tea leaf is an excellent example of how we’ve started with our mission and now we are looking to the future for other native Amazonian plants that could create new value and opportunities for farmers. Interns will assist us by looking into creating new supply chains for other species commonly found in the area.
Our social entrepreneurship interns will work alongside staff to look at new potential products, carry out market research, and create a short business plan to commercialize these new potential products from Amazonian plants.
Intern activities include:
–Research supply chain development, international markets, and processing capabilities for these new potential products.
-creating short business plans for new products and supply chain management.
-Work with local farmer cooperatives to plan new product development activities.
–Participate in trainings in organic production, value-added processing, financial and organizational management, and commercialization of non-timber forest products.
– Carry out field visits in local indigenous communities.
Option for Research Projects:
We would be excited to receive researchers or university students that need to complete field research – specific research projects will need prior approval of project directors and will depend on experience and staff availability. Past projects have involved market value chain development of Amazonian products, biodiversity evaluation sampling, impact studies on benefits of Fair Trade, and more.
Beyond Social Entrepreneurship, there is also an opportunity to engage in all aspects of the NGOs work, especially including:
Social Impact Storytelling
There is the option to help create engaging and provocative videos and written stories about the foundation’s work in the Ecuadorian Amazon, highlighting the farmers we work with, the significance of guayusa to the Kichwa culture, and the dynamic Amazon jungle. Beyond longer stories and videos, you can assist us to develop brand awareness by creating digital online and web media by preparing, editing, updating, and composing online material such as graphics, photos, and audio/video clips, which will be integrated with our social networking mediums. This role allows you to build a unique media profile whilst supporting our work and sharing Guayusa with the world.
We have supported development of a community ecotourism project to follow the “guayusa trail,” observe the process of growing and producing guayusa drinks from beginning to end, explore indigenous Kichwa communities, and participate in authentic Kichwa cultural activities (early morning guayusa ceremonies, creating jewellery and clothes from natural fibers, etc.) Interns can help to develop this ecotourism center within one of our collaborating communities!
Travel & Accom.
The best airport to fly into is Quito (UIO, Mariscal Sucre International Airport) as it is only 4 hours from the project. You will be put in contact with the director of the program upon applying and they can give easy to follow instructions to get to the project Headquarters from Quito or Guayaquil International airport.
Interns will live in the vibrant “Casa Runa,” a space of intercultural sharing and intellectual engagement located in the center of Tena a few blocks from restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies, public parks, forested trails and meandering rivers. The two-story building houses both intern accommodations and the Foundation office space. The main office space is located on the first floor, but group work spots and desks are scattered throughout the house to accommodate both collaborative and individual work. The first floor also includes a large outdoor terrace; a communal kitchen fully stocked with a stove, refrigerator, and cooking equipment; three bedrooms with bunk beds capable of sleeping 10 interns; and two bathrooms.
Bedding and towels are provided. On the second floor of the house there is a large meeting room that is great for group work or as a quiet space away from the office. There’s another outdoor terrace on the second floor which is an excellent space to eat meals, workout, and enjoy beautiful views of the city and its surrounding mountains at sunset.
We request that interns commit to a minimum of 8 weeks on the ground in Ecuador, have an intermediate level of Spanish proficiency (or a strong motivation to learn quickly before and upon arriving!), and bring knowledge in their area of research if looking to do a personal project. Interns are expected to finance their own travel costs and food.
For those interns looking to do their own research or fieldwork for university – we offer the knowledge and time of our engineers and field technicians, technical knowledge and informational databases, access to communities, NGOs, government agencies, and consultants, and pre- and post-research support.
Industry professionals, graduate/undergraduate students majoring in international studies, environmental science, policy, business, agriculture, or a related field.
- Minimum age 18
- Minimum 2 weeks commitment (40 hours/week), recommended 8-12 weeks.
- Industry professionals, graduate/undergraduate students majoring in international studies, environmental science, policy, business, agriculture, or a related field.
- Full travel & medical insurance
- Necessary vaccinations
- Necessary flights & visas
- Experience in Latin America and/or working in a rural setting desirable
$450 USD for the 1st week, $250 USD* for each week thereafter.
* Check xe.com for the latest updates.
** All payments incur a 5% bank transfer fee
*** Places is confirmed with a 1 week deposit
Project Fee includes in-depth pre-departure and orientation training, living accommodations in our fully-equipped and beautiful shared intern house (electricity, drinking water, wifi, basic cleaning/laundry services), 24/7 emergency support, and project costs.
We have a homestay option available, which includes all food and accommodation for an additional $60. Enquire with us if interested.
What’s not included:
Food (unless in homestay), flights, insurance, visas (if applicable) and vaccinations. Full assistance will be provided in getting all these arranged if you choose our Premium Support.
Premium Support Upgrade
We understand there’s a great deal to plan and organise for your trip. When booking a Placement, many of our participants choose to purchase our Premium Support Upgrade to benefit from the expertise, knowledge and experience of our Project Coordinators. We can provide the personal advice you need to ensure your trip is organised with excellence and planned with efficiency; ensuring the very best experience possible. Read more about how we can help you.
Note: Map coordinates are approximate