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Persevering until the end

This is the eighth blog-post from Paola Loy Villagran, the recipient of the ESOMAR Foundation scholarship in Guatemala sponsored by WIRe and Unilever.

My life in recent months has been quite busy. We are about to start the final phase of studies and I am pleased with the work I have done updating myself with topics about Digital Marketing, Finance, teamwork and others for business process improvement.

The Digital Marketing course was basically about the act of promoting and selling products and services online and through any electronic devices. It is a fact that our buying decisions are based on the reviews we read, the solutions feature and the prices that we find and compare between brands. That being the case, an online presence is necessary regardless of what you sell.

We can take many strategies but the most important ones to mention are SEM / SEO which help a brand appear in search results, social media, website intelligence, return on investment and E-mail Marketing among others.

Also, during these first months we had the opportunity to work with a foreign professor from Venezuela,  the class was totally interactive and very creative, since the theme of development was branding and creation of new products, even as part of the final project we had to make a video of ourselves as a personal branding exercise because at the end of the day each one of us plays a role in our work, in our family or in the student world, so whatever we do we must be excellent and committed so we have the best version of ourselves.

I can not stop mentioning my family during this process because they are the ones that encourage me to keep going until I finish my master´s degree. Especially my nephews with whom I had the opportunity of spending time in this Holy Week.

We had a very special moment admiring processions the last week.

My nephews and I, they are wearing traditional gowns in royal purple.

The color purple along with red, black, white and gold, has an important symbolic meaning as the color of royalty and suffering. They symbolize the suffering of Jesus Christ during the crucifixion.

For those, who have not read my words in previous posts, I am a huge fan of the traditions of my country, because although we have many problems politically and economically speaking I think the best attribute we have is our people, our faith and so many talented people who are trying to demonstrate the good things we have.

Proof of them I would like to talk about the incredible “masterpiece” carpet that students elaborated in Antigua Guatemala. Just looking at the colors, textures, and the meaning they sought to capture was impressive, with so many visual elements.

Most seen this week:


The carpet designs reflect traditions, biblical symbolism and scenes from nature.


How you can support in your country

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 




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.

To this day, I am amazed at how I landed (got awarded) this scholarship. Every time I try to explain the steps I took to interested parties, the unmerited favor that was poured out on me, words fail me. All I am is grateful and forever indebted to ESOMAR Foundation-WIRe. THANK YOU! You have UPGRADED my life to another notch, I might (if God so wishes) be a manager soon and all to a girl under 30 years (28 years to be exact). It is a great achievement but it has been work. I am so happy now for the panicky days, the unsure days, the joyous days, and the days I was so overwhelmed but I have now come out on top.

This year 2019, has been a busy year and it has started so well I cannot explain how excited and how expectant for the future I am. I am among some that might be receiving a promotion in a couple of weeks and I am so ready for the interview, I will ace it!! I should say that (if I haven’t mentioned before) my colleague and I (note we are only the two of us) are the pioneers of the marketing department in the National Museums of Kenya. There has never before been a marketing department so we have so much on our plates (very happy about this) to put systems in place that will inform the future bearers of this office on best practices. We are setting up anew and it’s exciting as it is a huge responsibility on our laps. It is true, to whom much is given, much is required!!

As for my studies, I finally decided on my thesis topic; how does social media influence consumer buying behavior? I am pleased to say that unlike many students ahead of me, I will be conducting a qualitative research study instead of a quantitative one. Sometimes I get in my head and put so much pressure on myself saying that such an undertaking isn’t an easy one, I wonder how I will make it happen with all the responsibilities I have to see through. But then I remember during my 1st year 2nd semester when I had 6 units, Monday to Saturday classes, a full time job and I made it happen. Then I’m encouraged that even this (school project), I shall see through to it and I will give it very my best! So, I’m not sure of much these days but I’m taking it one day at a time. My supervisor Prof Munyoki, has been my rock during times when systems in the University worked against me. He is a kind and humble man, I look forward to working with him to make my thesis a reality and a success!!

I would also like to state that my relationship with Jesus has been my strength, why I’m so happy, so expectant for the future. My faith in Jesus has been my armor, my hope, my joy. Simply put, MY EVERYTHING!!

I will keep you updated and hopefully someone out here will be encouraged to keep moving. That it might seem like you’re juggling a lot but a time will come when you look back and can’t imagine how you made it through the storm!!

Happy April everyone!!


College Junior

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.

What is like to be a college junior? School was great, although, the third year was tough and quite stressful with a lot of assignments, projects, presentations, panda-eyes and sleepless nights.

However, no matter how hard it is, knowledge and education is a must, and just like a quote I keep telling myself, “I may not be the smartest person in the class, but I will surely do the best to succeed and graduate just like others”.  Each year is exciting and interesting because I’ve got to study with many different teachers who are from diverse cultures and countries. It is so interesting that I can learn more about other countries and cultures through them even though I can’t go there directly. But in NUM they bring the countries and cultures to students and most of the time NUM also brings students there directly as well, which is so cool!

A week in my life of being a college junior

This is my third year and semester 1. I have an important 2 weeks’ straight session with Professor Anselm Vermeulen. He is from Holland, but currently lives in China and teaches in one of China’s most famous universities. I studied with him Operation Management. We have a research essay about Industry 4.0, 5.0, RFID and Barcode, and lastly, I have done a presentation about the Xiaomi company (Chinese technologies manufacturing company). On Tuesday I have Human Resource Management class with Mrs. Ros Chan Sophea. She is our Cambodian teacher. I have learned a lot about how to choose the right person for a job in the future. By learning about HRM I can prepare myself well for a job in the future as well. On Wednesday I have Mr. Nikhil Mani. He is Indian, but he graduated in Europe. I study with him about Public Relations and learn quite a lot about PR tools, and how PR teams handle company scandals, and how PR operates in companies. PR is one of the important teams in a company as well as the marketing team. On Thursday I have Ms. Mitsy Chanel-Blot. She is African-American. I study with her about Globalization II, which include histories, cultures, foods, religions, and people. She is also one of the funniest teachers we have this semester, and we really have fun studying with her because she makes learning fun. She is open-minded and a supportive teacher. And lastly Friday, I have Ms. Kerry Slattery. She teaches Marketing Management. We have been assigned a great project of making a proposal for Total Gas Station based on steering more men and adults to choose and trust in their gas stations and be their loyal customers.  Only 3 teams were selected by Total and sadly my team was not among them. My team had a proposal about Jet-Ski Racing which has not yet been introduced in Cambodia. We wanted to bring that here, but we haven’t been selected, I hope maybe next time they will take our idea into consideration someday because Cambodian people and men here love sports so much.

Nonetheless, half of the students at my University now are on their joyful vacation, but my class hasn’t finished yet, we still got so much to go and maybe we will have a short break next month on March, which is also my birthday. On March 1st I will be 21 years old, I’m getting older! I will always be so much thankful for the precious gift of knowledge and education from the ESOMAR Foundation, WiRE and NUM and for giving me this special opportunity to be able to study at the university and graduate like other kids. This is more than what I could thank for. I am excited for the next journey to come, waiting for what I will be learning next in the second semester, can’t wait for that, especially to meet new teachers, and learn new knowledge about the courses and about diversifications through them as well, which is so interesting to me. I am looking forward to updating more about me during the short break and as well as back to school for the second semester.

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


ESOMAR Foundation, Women In Research, and Unilever Fund Scholarship in Guatemala

Scholarship awarded to Maria Paola Loy Villagran in Guatemala to pursue MS in market research at Universidad Rafael Landivar

 11 December 2018 – Amsterdam, NLThe ESOMAR Foundation—a charitable organization representing the market research industry—in cooperation with global non-profit Women in Research (WIRe) and Unilever, recently funded a scholarship benefiting a female student entering into an market research related field of study in Guatemala. The scholarship has been awarded to recipient Maria Paola Loy Villagran, who will be pursuing a Master of Science in Marketing with a focus on Market Research, at Universidad Rafael Landivar.

“We are ever so grateful to WIRe and Unilever for providing the opportunity to Paola to pursue her studies in the market research field,” says John Kearon, ESOMAR Foundation President. “It is through their generousity and support that we can ensure that talented students in need can fulfill their dream of a better life”

This year’s scholarship recipient, Maria Paola Loy Villagran, is a Guatemalan native from a disadvantaged socio-economic background. Through the scholarship, Paola will have the opportunity to pursue an advanced degree and, in the future, a career in market research. Through funding the education of women like Paola, the organizations involved help to advance the voice of women in the market research industry as well as the voice of Guatemalan women in the practice. Upon receiving word that the scholarship had been funded, Paola remarked that “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard WORK!”

Women in Research (WIRe) raised the funding for the scholarship through outreach to their global community, receiving a generous outpouring of gifts and support on Giving Tuesday: an international day of giving. These gifts were further supported by a matching donation from Unilever. WIRe is the only non-profit organization solely dedicated to the advancement of women and underrepresented communities in the market research industry, providing career development and educational opportunities for women while supporting a variety of diversity initiatives. Unilever, a global consumer goods company, with a strong focus on charitable initiatives, especially in emerging markets, matched the WIRe community’s contribution dollar for dollar for the scholarship fund. ESOMAR Foundation, WIRe and Unilever have previously collaborated to award scholarships in Kenya and Cambodia.

“We are thrilled that, for the third year in a row, the WIRe community and market research industry have come together to amplify underrepresented voices in this industry through the continued support of WIRe’s Global Scholarship Fund,” says Kristin Luck, founder of Women in Research, “The aims of the ESOMAR Foundation and this scholarship initiative align perfectly with WIRe’s mission to advance the contributions of women in market research while fostering a more vibrant and just industry for all. We’re pleased to offer this support to Paola as she advances in her studies with the goal of a career in Market Research and I’m humbled by the WIRe community’s continued enthusiasm regarding this initiative.”The ESOMAR Foundation and WIRe plan to continue to collaborate in 2019 to fund additional scholarship initiatives in emerging or disadvantaged markets.


About ESOMAR Foundation

ESOMAR Foundation is a charitable Foundation representing the Market, Social and Opinion Research industry. Our industry has a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be applied to every aspect of society to ensure a more transparent, reliable and sustainable world. The ESOMAR Foundation is the charity arm of ESOMAR, the global industry association of market, social and opinion research. http://www.esomarfoundation.org

About Women in Research

Women in Research (WIRe) champions diversity in the marketing research industry by arming women with the tools to develop professionally, build connections and stay inspired. We believe in the positive impact of women in business. Our mission is to advance the contributions and voice of women in research, both for themselves and for the greater good of the industry. www.womeninresearch.org


 Media Contact:Jessica Sage, jessica@womeninresearch.org, +1 (760) 933-7274

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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.