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In September through November, 2009, Ilona participated as a ProCorps consultant for the Foundation for Sustainable Development in La Plata, Argentina. Ilona worked with the Fundación Pro Humanae Vitae (FPHV), a nongovernmental organization based in La Plata, Argentina, dedicated to activities that promote human development. One of their programs is the Instituto de Artesanos Manos Platenses, created to improve the quality of artesania production in La Plata and Buenos Aires, including providing training in management and communication tools. Every weekend the artisans sell their products in a feria (crafts fair) in Plaza Azcuenaga, which is maintained with the help of the Municipalidad de La Plata to promote the culture and provide open spaces to the people of La Plata, as well as to foster economic development.
Ilona’s work involved 3 major activities (in addition to administrative support of the feria):
1. Research on the customers of the feria (quantitative questionnaire)
2. Research on the artisans to determine their marketing and business needs (qualitative written survey)
3. Seminar on marketing for the Artesanos Manos Platenses, which included the results of the above research along with consumer awareness and marketing principals.
The seminar included a participative activity in which the artisans made collages of their consumers to better understand their needs and think of ways in which their products can meet those needs. The activity not only provided an enjoyable experience, but also helped the artisans change the way they think about their consumers, to help future product development and marketing strategies. This will benefit both the businesses of the artisans and the community visiting the feria, as product selection and feria activities are tailored to meet their needs.