Entrepreneur bites on mosquito, chocolate ventures in Colombia
When Terry Green Jr. received his MBAe from Clemson in 2014, little did the Anderson native know he’d be building mosquito traps in Colombia and working to elevate that country’s global stature in producing cacao beans for chocolate.
But that’s where a five-year stint in the Peace Corps has led Green. And although the aspiring entrepreneur doesn’t have a start-up on the front burner, he has found great personal satisfaction in contributing to those community health and economic development projects in the South American country.
“My work with Peace Corps has been a stepping stone and at some point I’ll likely shift gears,” Green said. “But until the right start-up or job opportunity presents itself, I’m enjoy helping in development work and doing some good for the people here.”
Green, who has been five years of experience in the Peace Corps, started in Peru as a community economic development specialist. He returned to Clemson and graduated with the MBAe before heading back to South America where he continues in economic development and health-related projects.
A project he just completed aims to boost Colombia’s global stature in the chocolate industry. The USAID/USDA Cacao for Peace Initiative, of which nine U.S. land-grant universities are a part of, aims to leverage the country’s quality cacao crop, a raw bean that when fermented and processed becomes cocoa, chocolate’s main ingredient.
“Colombia is blessed with quality beans for chocolate, and there’s a strong belief cacao can become as valuable as the coffee bean is to the Colombian economy,” Green said. “This initiative will create economic opportunities for the U.S. chocolate and confectionary industries, which import high volumes of cacao, and thousands of Colombian farmers and their families throughout the country.”
Green’s current endeavor has ties to Clemson and a graduate school cohort of his, Even Skjervold. It was Skjervold who made Green aware of a community health issue in Colombia that is occupying his time these days.
“Mosquito-borne diseases are a real problem in Colombia’s sub-tropical climate. Now, I’m working with health and environmental enforcement officials in producing and deploying low-cost mosquito traps in San Juan Nepomuceno, in northern Colombia,” he said.
The hand-made traps are constructed from discarded tires that are cut up and filled with a vegetative, algae-like attractant that lures mosquitoes. When the insects lay eggs, they are collected and destroyed before they hatch.
“Colombia doesn’t have the resources to diagnose Zika or Chikungunya viruses at the community level, so they are looking at ways to reduce the mosquito population and these traps have shown to be effective,” he said. “We are cutting up motorcycle, truck and car tires as traps to lure the mosquitoes. Every three days the eggs are collected and destroyed. The goal is to reduce deadly mosquito-borne diseases by limiting the number of insects that transmit the viruses.”
Green said his interest in producing the mosquito traps was inspired in part by his desire to help fulfill a local need.
“Even though there isn’t funding yet, there is a lot of interest in this project from health and government officials. And, I sort of have a personal stake in this as I’ve known a lot of people who have had the viruses since I’ve lived in South America,” he said.
Though he doesn’t view the Peace Corps as a long-term career choice, Green said his experiences in Peru and Colombia have been enriching and have the potential of opening doors to the next chapter in his life.
“There may be some entrepreneurial options for me in the cacao project, and a possibility exists for an entrepreneurial venture with the mosquito traps. They might be sold to health agencies in other tropical nations with similar health issues,” he added. “I would be happy to discuss the possibilities with anyone interested in learning more details. Until the next opportunity presents itself, I feel good about how I’m using my skill sets to contribute.”
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