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Learning a lot

This is the seventh blog-post from Paola Loy Villagran, the recipient of the ESOMAR Foundation scholarship in Guatemala. 

The last months I have been so busy that I have not even felt them, I am really learning a lot, working hard for the final exams this year.

I am recently receiving an Anthropology of Consumption and Neuromarketing course which introduces us to study different areas of consumption from a multidisciplinary perspective, combining approaches of the social sciences to understand the decision-making process of the consumer in a globalized environment. The main research method we are using is qualitative, particularly ethnographic. The course combines theoretical, analytical and methodological elements, all based on academic books and journals of recognized prestige.

Also, we are working in the design of effective and innovative distribution channels for real companies during classes, so it gives all students the opportunity to learn about current trends of distribution, communication and digital management to achieve business efficiency. The courses challenge us to solve cases of real companies, defend points of view as a team, like people in real companies do every day.

My friends and I during a presentation about cardamon companies

In personal terms, my birthday is coming soon, so I am really looking forward to celebrating it with all my family and enjoy one of the many traditions of the country and that I like so much to mention in this blog.

I am talking about the enormous and colorful kites soaring over the skies of Guatemala on the first and second of November of each year, a tradition that is part of the All Saints’ Day celebrations.

Kites with diameters between 24 and 30 meters are made of cloth and paper with bamboo frames, they usually contain religious or folkloric themes so they can be flown in the nearby Sacatepéquez cemetery to honor the dead during special dates.

People from all around the world visit Santiago Sacatepéquez during this event in order to learn about the legends of the country and that special day. According to the elders, the impact of the wind against the paper takes away the bad spirits, so the locals spent hours to make kites so the good spirits remain calm and stop receiving unwanted visits.

Giant kites during the celebration in Guatemala.


Great to see Nicolin’s progress!

Nicolin Mamuya, who was granted the first ESOMAR Foundation scholarship in South Africa, is broadening her experience as a graduate trainee and is thinking about a permanent job! 


The year is ending and I still feel as though I have a great deal of work to complete before visiting my family this December. I spend my days and weekends doing school projects and work. Massmart has really taught us, graduate trainees, about merchandising, strategic management as well as other different aspects within an organisation. I tend to converse with employees, from the different divisions under Massmart, to build insight on the different methods of marketing and operations in order to broaden my perspective and possibly draw branches on innovative ideas.

I was recently transferred to the marketing operations area under Builders, one of Massmart’s divisions. This means I assist with the store openings and events as well as the in-store radio management in South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia. I am truly happy with the position as it provides the opportunity for me to travel around Africa, something an extrovert like myself would fully enjoy.

On the 25th of October, I experienced my first Builders store opening. I had to prepare the materials on the day before, set up on the day of the opening and then ensure to manage the marketing activities in order to make certain that everything works out as planned. Pictures of the store opening are as below:

As tiring as it was, it was a great experience. We presented the first customer with a free braai stand (barbeque stand) leaving her very cheerful. The customers were amazed with the amended design of the new store. We offered free popcorn and slush puppies as well as advertised the new services that the organisation offered.  All of this was occurring while a local radio host played music and further advertised the offerings of the new store to the community. It was truly amazing! I cannot wait to open the next store to gain greater experience in order to lead the marketing of the future store openings.

I am also looking forward to visiting my family back in Tanzania. It has been over a year since I last spent time with them, which means seeing them would just boost my happiness and at least bring me into the year 2019 with greater confidence and bliss. Trusting to get a permanent position, I am looking to save money to try and invest in some form of woman empowerment group with the plans to empower females and fight against rape and other forms of abuse in Africa. I further plan to move into my own apartment and create a home for myself, instil better confidence in me and lastly, take greater care of my mother. I can only pray to succeed with my plans.


A Catch Twenty Two…

Blog post from Innocent Rwamba Nyaga who is following the MS in market research at the University of Nairobi, Kenya. Innocent is the recipient of the ESOMAR Foundation / MSRA Scholarship sponsored by WIRe and Unilever.

So, after a whole year, my course work is over! Thank God! Just putting things in place in order to begin my thesis. Well, I haven’t really decided on what I shall be researching on therefore I need divine guidance on this one but hopefully I get that part done soon. Any ideas kindly share them with me on innocentimon@gmail.com if any.

A lot has been happening in my country (Kenya) and I’m pretty sure many might have caught this on international news and as perplexing as it is to outsiders, trust me it’s even more so to Kenyans (maybe worse). Just got me thinking on the many ways our public offices (the occupants of course) fail us as a people. The University of Nairobi, where I am currently studying, is a high calibre public institution. My just concluded semester saw me running around many of the finance offices just to get something so simple fixed and I got so frustrated, raised a great hue and cry but still my issue went unsolved. I had to involve two of my lecturers to have anyone listen to me at all. Eventually I had my issue resolved but not in the timely manner I would have wished.

I should probably mention that I started, at a very tender age, working in a well-known hotel (Sarova Hotels) and if there was something that was drilled into me was excellent service! So I have a serious problem accepting shoddy services. The same way attorneys make for bad witnesses, I cannot stand bad service. I should also mention that I work for a public institution (The National Museums of Kenya) well isn’t that interesting! I see the small and big ways we could improve. In short I have an inside and outside view of our public institutions.

As I write this I want to record, for my personal use, an account of the experiences I face now and compare them to those I shall go through in my future and I pray for a great shift. I don’t know about you but how effective are your public offices? Are they run successfully? If so, then we need a serious crash course!! Don’t get me wrong, I love my country dearly and the potential here (and in Africa) is insurmountable. I think till you live here one would never know the treasures that lie in our continent and this is what I want to see for myself and the future generations.

So in my capacity as a public officer, I try as much as I can to infuse a better attitude when dealing with internal and external customers and as always change the little world around me. Can interpersonal skills be taught or is one born with said skills? Opinions here might differ but I believe that a love for people (yes people) is necessary to be exceptional in dealing with customers. And this is true even when carrying out research studies.

In the same vein, great things are happening here. We are currently hosting the largest East African Travel Trade expo that is seeing travel agents from all over the world having a firsthand experience of Kenya and all it can offer. The one thing that has been standard on their (travel agents) reviews has been how awesome the Kenyan people are, we do love people here thus the topic. You’ll have to experience it to believe it, so come all and sundry.

Guatemala – A country with the most supportive people

This is the sixth blog-post from Paola Loy Villagran, the recipient of the ESOMAR Foundation scholarship in Guatemala. 

Guatemala is going through very difficult times recently, because just a few weeks ago an intense volcanic eruption in the country sent lava flowing into rural communities, killing at least 500-600 families and leaving thousands homeless. Dangerous flows of lava, ash and toxic gases took many people by surprise, practically most of them ended buried because they were not able to get out that day. The scenes on tv were so sad, worse than horror movies.

Many of them stopped on the road to watch the advance of the giant ash plumes, but soon the panic began as they realized how fast the plumes were approaching the community. Hundreds of rescue workers, including firefighters, police, and soldiers, worked to help any survivors and recover any more bodies amid the still-smoking lava.

A firefighter helping an elderly woman the day of the disaster

Firefighters said they had seen some people who were trapped, but roads were cut by pyroclastic flows and they were unable to reach them. Photos from days after the disaster zone showed images of ordinary life frozen under a coat of dust. The national disaster agency of Guatemala said weather conditions and still hot volcanic material were making it dangerous for rescuers, so the search stopped soon, however many families are still looking for their relatives.

Buried houses

Businessmen, employees of companies, celebrities, media and even the humblest people of the country have agreed to help all the people who lost all their belongings and their families. I want to talk about the recent disaster in this publication for two reasons: The first one is that every human should know about these natural events (referring to volcanic activity) and that this could happen in their countries too, we have to identify the signs and take precautions in our house and work. And the second thing is that all of us should enjoy all the moments with our families because sometimes we just complain about what happens around us but we do not realize how lucky we are, just by having health, food, and people to love.

My family and I have been working and trying to help this cause. The contribution may be small but with little, we can help much.  With my studies everything is going well, I have learned much and have known new friends.

My friends and I eating after classes


Social Dynamics – A Conundrum

Blog post from Innocent Rwamba Nyaga who is following the MS in market research at the University of Nairobi, Kenya. Innocent is the recipient of the ESOMAR Foundation / MSRA Scholarship sponsored by WIRe and Unilever.

I have been thinking about how fortunate I am to have been awarded this scholarship by WiRE as I am a silent feminist (my apologies, I digress). But I am overly blessed as there have been so many doors opened for me whether directly or indirectly through the ESOMAR Foundation. I mentioned before that the Green Marketing class of 2018 has constituted a 47million trees project (for the 47 counties). This is a ginormous undertaking so we have to pace ourselves thus we have partnered with other individuals who did this unit a while back, PhD students, meaning there is a wealth of information in one seating. Besides that, we have taken it upon ourselves to categorize green companies in Kenya through measures like where they source raw materials. Are the materials sourced locally or imported? And many other such like measures. We have been meeting and so far so good.

Greema Secretariat

This semester has brought with it a favorite lecturer Dr. Owino. My classmates and I went to him last semester to request him to ensure that he teaches us Research Seminar unit. He is so passionate and he has truly honed his teaching skills I figure very few miss his classes. I’m a staunch believer in giving credit where it’s due and I want to appreciate everyone that has held my hand on this journey.

My main reason for penning this article is to share a fear most have but do not know how to overcome it, or does one really? This fear is the one that comes with meeting new people. I should know as I am very categorical in my thinking and voice it too! So how does one balance between staying true to one’s thoughts/opinions (and sharing them) and managing other people’s egos? I bring this up because for anyone who has entered a new environment, be it work related, social gatherings, school/university et al has experienced this. Like I said, I happen to be a silent feminist (not the chronic one, again I digress) and being born a female in a third world country, one has to know what they are about and learn to fight for what one believes in. So having joined the University through the scholarship, I have learned that I’m definitely not the only one that has opinions and most times these opinions differ. I have had some arguments here and there while in class so I tend to think that after a big disagreement, the person I differed with might want nothing to do with me. Most times this is true but not always. Having said that, I recently rowed with a certain gentleman during a Research Seminar class and I was so sure we would never see eye to eye again but I was pleasantly surprised (we now are working together on the green marketing project). This hasn’t been the case as there are those we cannot work together outside of sharing a class. We all bring unique ideas and opinions in the fold but we still respect one another which I think for any social setting, is crucial.

Also, when I started this program I made quite a number of friends, we shared the same classes so we saw each other quite often and kept up with each other. But as most of us are done with the core units and currently finalizing with the specialization units, most of these friendships have wilted and withered. What makes it even more awkward is when we meet unexpectedly and apologize for all the unfulfilled meetups (on both parties of course). But such is life!

My take away is nothing is set in stone and not everything I engage in will stand the test of time. Or that some of these things (or people) aren’t meant to have a permanent place in my life so I should enjoy the moments (and people too) as they come and go. That is such a cliché statement but nonetheless so true!

Nicolin is excited about what the future holds!

Nicolin Mamuya, who was granted the first ESOMAR Foundation scholarship in South Africa, works in the marketing department of a large department store and is on her mission to be a strong and successful female!

Seven months into the year and so much has happened. I finally moved out of the place that I last lived in with my mother. It was such a big step however; it was what I needed to remind myself that I am actually growing. After all, with growth comes change. I have gained confidence due to how far I have come and my future goals are only becoming clearer as time goes. I only have God to thank for all the opportunities I have been blessed with.

To recap, I work in the marketing department of the Builders organisation under Massmart-Walmart. I have been shadowing many of the employees in the department to get an idea of how the different roles and activities influence one another. I’m currently working on an event called Decorex, a common Builders event that provides DIY techniques as well as effective gardening techniques. The amount of detail required in planning events is more than I imagined. I’m also working closely with the public relations coordinator by assisting with the planning of other events and creating press releases as well as social media posts. With such good managers by my side, I attend many of the executive meetings and get the chance to listen to the strategy formulations. This makes me feel very much included and I love it!

The company culture is another amazing factor with a DNA in place to remind employees about the behaviour the company seeks to maintain. Everyone is very helpful, happy and patient which also gets me excited to actually go to work. The company has enrolled the graduates into a business school to study for a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Management as part of the graduate programme. The subjects include marketing, finance, human resources, operations management as well as organisational planning, strategy development and implementation. I wrote my first exam on the ninth of July. It wasn’t very good but I’m very hopeful.

I have also started frequently watching inspirational videos seeing as there really is no formula to this life. One of the interesting videos by Jim Rohn in 1981, provided great food for thought. He mentioned that unless you change how you are, you will always remain with what you have. He continues to state that success is something you attract, not what you pursue. Self-development is therefore important. You can start by changing your attitude and then after, understand all you can do through “childish curiosity”. Childish curiosity means that you should not be skeptical but rather be as curious as a child.

All of this adds to my mission to be a strong and successful female. I’m happy with how far I’ve come and I’m excited about what the future holds.

A year down.. 1 more to go!

Blog post from Innocent Rwamba Nyaga who is following the MS in market research at the University of Nairobi, Kenya. Innocent is the recipient of the ESOMAR Foundation / MSRA Scholarship sponsored by WIRe and Unilever.

This semester has been one of the hardest and most enjoyable in equal measure. I have to admit I didn’t think I would have made it without dropping the ball but I am glad I’m at the half-way junction! Second semester exams are now over with the third semester beckons!

The units this semester have been great, especially Green Marketing. I don’t think I had ever thought of sustainable marketing before I interacted with this unit. The unit was taught at such a crucial time in Kenya, where as a people we haven’t been environmentally conscious. Kenya’s forest cover is less than 10% of total land mass and there are no initiatives to rebuild it and sadly so because we have been experiencing heavy rainfalls the last couple of months. So the Green Marketing class of 2018 in the University of Nairobi, we want to be the next Wangari Maathai’s and take care of our trees as she avidly had before her passing. Please check out Kenya’s Nobel Peace Prize 2004 winner for her “contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace’’.  She founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women’s rights. Isn’t that a fitting description!! I hope I get to make any kind of positive influence, change in the little world around me.

Wangari Maathai, Kenya’s Nobel Peace Prize 2004 winner for her “contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace’’.

I have been so inspired by the Green Marketing lecturer, Prof. Mary Kinoti. She has brought forth a yearning to be better, to dream and to see it through no matter what. We still have weekly meetings even when we have finalized her classes already but the fire in us to make a difference burns so hot for us still. She nurtured us and hopefully what she taught us will not be in vain!


Prof. Mary Kinoti

I look forward to a new year, there have been lecturers’ strikes still in this beautiful country of ours so hopefully it will not affect us this coming year.

It has been pure pleasure and hard work being honored with ESOMAR-WiRE Scholarship recipient of 2017-2018. I now want to branch out and work with you personally, I hope I shall be worthy of that extended honor!

How you can support

If you are a market researcher, a national market research association, an NGO involved in research or a university interested in a scholarship in your country please contact us at info@esomarfoundation.org

Partners & Sponsors

We are always on the lookout for partners and sponsors. If you are an organisation looking to understand more on how you can support us, please find more information here or contact:  info@esomarfoundation.org


My experience of being a first time traveller and alone!

Blog-post from Esther Tot, who received the ESOMAR Foundation Scholarship to study at the English based Bachelor Degree program in International Business at the National University of Management (NUM) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

This is how my new chapter of 2018 began! On January 8th I won a SHARE Scholarship to study in Myanmar for one semester and I have been there for three months from January 8th 2018 until April 4th 2018, which is the day I left, and I wish I could have stayed longer!

That is where God created a new chapter for my life on New Year Eve. I couldn’t be more thankful to him and everyone who leads my way including my family, my teachers, all the people who are working at the ESOMAR Foundation and WIRE who helped me reach one of my wishes that is to at least travel once in my life. But now after my first experience I actually want some more. This reminds me  of my teacher Ms. Kerry Slattery who once told me that you get addicted when you have traveled once! It’s never enough because that experience is changing you in some way like being more cheerful and happy in life, you meet new people and make new friends and your life would never be the same without making new friends and experience new things.

From that persuasive phrase from my teacher I started to view life from a different perspective. Then lately I started questioning myself, what is life without moving? It’s nothing without moving because you will be stuck in the same place, same zone, and probably your comfort zone. This experience has changed my thoughts and my perspective, as well as my view from being pessimistic and become more optimistic. Honestly, this is the first time that I really broke out of my comfort zone and stepped into a real world. Travelling alone is the scariest thing I decided to do and would like to thank my mom and my family for supporting me to reach my goal. Travelling alone at just 19 years of age has built up my confidence to step out of my comfort-zone and explore my life. These 3 months have been amazing and more than what I had expected!

During these 3 months I met new people, made new friends, and I survived in my new environment even though there were some difficulties at first with the foods texture, ingredients, and smell. I ate both Myanmar food as well as Indonesian food as I was staying with Indonesian students and they were like siblings to me. They always cooked me Indonesian food and I was quite ashamed as I rarely cooked for them any Khmer food (Cambodian food) as our ingredients are rare and hard to find in there even though we are Asian, but we are not the same because we are unique in our own ways.

It was more interesting when it came to religion because in Myanmar it is allowed to embrace many religions. I have now many friends from different religions such as Baptists, Catholic, Buddhists, Muslims. It is quite interesting to get to know and understand and observe the inner behavior of each of my friends from different places and different religions and different languages. This experience has been an important part of my exploring.

During those 3 months I haven’t really stayed in contacted with my family or friends in Cambodia because the Internet connection was really bad, so I wasn’t able to call home often and haven’t really kept up with what’s going on in social media, but it was a nice experience being able to stay away from social media and really connected to people around me physically. I’ve been spending time with my Burmese, Indonesian, Korean, and American friends, discussed about our experiences and exchanged our knowledge, we ate dinner together and cooked for each other and went out and explored Myanmar together which helped make me make new friends almost every day.

On the other hand, I want to talk about the difference between Cambodia and Myanmar in the way people worship Buddhism.  In Myanmar I have seen people going to pagodas to worship their gods everyday as we all know that Myanmar has thousands of temples. In  Cambodia people don’t go to worship in Buddhist temples everyday. I have a relative who practices Buddhism so I learned a little about this fact as I see my relative go to temple to worship his gods only on what is called the “holy day” or on special occasions such as Khmer New Year, Pchum Ben, or Visak Bochea Day and many other days, but as I have mentioned above that it is not every day as in Myanmar. It is my own observation and experience so only if you experienced it yourself you would know what I am saying is true or false, but based on my own experience I can prove myself 75% right at this point. Anyway, this is not about making a declamation about religion; it is just what I have learned from being there which helped benefit my knowledge in observation and understanding and seeing something different from my own country.

People in Myanmar speak many of their own ethnic languages which I can’t understand but I could still communicate (half of the Burmese now can speak a little English including some taxi drivers and food sellers at the supermarket). It is amazing how sometimes me and my Indonesian friends walked across the local food stores and the sellers were not able to speak English, but we could still communicate and buy food by using our body language and we have even learned a little Burmese! To pay we usually opened our phone calculator for the seller to type the price (because it is a local food shop, street food so there is no price tag). When I look back at those moments I feel amazing and proud of all people who are able to communicate to each other no matter how hard it is and this is the amazing fact about our human being that I admire most.

Lastly, I would describe Myanmar as an amazing country even though it has been through a hardship of political background and damaged but it never gave up and it keeps on growing and developing. I am full of admiration of the country and the people. They are so friendly and so hospitable and food is somehow delicious. The thing that I love most is the beauty of their nature. In some places it is the best thing I have ever seen!

I would like to recommend anyone who would like to visit Myanmar, to go to Mandalay, Bagan, Shan State (Innlay Lake, where they speak a language similar to Thai), Yangon, Chin State, and if possible also Kachin State  but a little dangerous as there is a conflict still going on and a small war in that region, so better do some research about the situation first before heading to visit there, but it is such a nice place. I have friends who live there and they told me that they also have snow in December. This place is on my bucket list and I definitely want to visit there some day not just for the snow but for many other beauty of nature they have there, including the Heart Shape Lake (can research in Google), some of the other beaches site which are really, really wonderful.

For this truly amazing experience I would like to thank the ESOMAR Foundation and WIRE who sponsor me in the first place to be able to study at National University of Management and so I could apply for the SHARE Scholarship to go to Myanmar. I would also like to thank all the teachers who helped lead the way. Without all of you I wouldn’t have had such an amazing experience. Thanks everyone so much for helping me to accomplish my education and help me chase my dream and get a better life. I really appreciate everyone and everything, and thanks God for everything.

Partners & Sponsors

We are always on the lookout for partners and sponsors. If you are an individual or an organisation looking to understand more on how you can support us, please find more information here or contact:  info@esomarfoundation.org


It’s amazing how time flies!

This is the fifth blog from Nutsa Kvitashvili who is following the BA Program of Sociology at Caucasus School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Nutsa is the recipient of the ESOMAR Foundation Scholarship sponsored by Inizio.

I finished the first semester of my senior year at Caucasus University and this semester was probably my favorite of all because I had subjects which were very interesting and exciting for me, that’s why I wrote my final exams pretty well.  By the way this year is Caucasus University’s 20 year anniversary, so this year we will have a lot of fun activities and events and I’m looking forward to it.

It’s amazing how time flies when you are doing things that you like. Four years ago I became a student at Caucasus University, it seems like it was just a few weeks ago but now I’m in my last semester. Those four years at CU (Caucasus University) were educational and also fun. I met new people and most of them are my friends now, I got to do a lot of fun activities, visit university events and parties and just enjoying student life to the fullest. Besides all the fun being in your last semester is tough because you have more responsibilities and a lot of decisions to make. For example, where should I work? Or should I get my master degree first? Where is it better to get a master degree? In Georgia or maybe in Europe? Which university? Which major should I choose? And there are many questions like this which every senior year student should ask their selves and make these life-changing decisions which could be hard for them. Students start to realize that their academic journey which began when they first started school is now ending. Starting a new chapter in your life can be terrifying because we don’t always know what should we expect in the future. But at the same time with changes come a lot of great opportunities for young adults. The end of something is not necessarily a bad thing, it means that something new is starting and who knows maybe this new journey would be more interesting. American author Caroline Myss once said, “always go with a choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to help you grow.”


About My Life

This is the fifth blog-post from Paola Loy Villagran, the recipient of the ESOMAR Foundation scholarship in Guatemala. 

During these days I am taking final exams in the first trimester, waiting for the best results to enjoy the summer holidays.

We followed a course called Operations Research, a discipline that deals with the application of advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions, so we can improve time, costs and customer service processes. We can use these applications in airlines, manufacturing companies, service organizations and many others. Hopefully I will be able to implement some of these methods in my own business in the future.

Easter Week in Guatemala

Among other things, as I mentioned in my last blog, Guatemala has a mix of Mayan and Christian traditions that allow us to unite in faith and family. And since we are so close to the celebration I would like to tell you a little about them.

One of the most important, that reminds me my childhood is making carpets.

There are two types of carpets that are made during Easter Week in Guatemala: The carpets along the processional route, made by residents who invite friends and family to assist them, and the carpets in the churches that are made for the holy vigils by the brotherhoods.

Carpets of “Semana Santa” in Guatemala, the greatest expression of art.

On Good Friday the streets of Guatemala are covered with natural, aromatic carpets of flowers, pines, clover and fruits, which the residents put together and place in front of their homes. There are all kinds and shapes, some of them are very long, even up to a kilometer, with colonial and original designs and usually they are made during the 24 hours prior to the procession.

Families making carpets

And because of the intense detail and amount of time dedicated to their creation, they are meant to be destroyed once the processions pass. This is a way for the people to give something of themselves in memory of Christ’s death.

Also, during this month my family and I attend a special event organized by Avon Foundation for Women, with the purpose to educate and mobilize people worldwide on issues that are of vital importance to women like breast cancer education and ending violence against women.

My Family and I during the Avon Race

“Violence against women and girls hides in the shadow of silence” they said during the event, so I think we all must support these activities and help others to develop and implement policies that promote gender equality.