Investment and risk in Ecuador

The game seems to be getting more complicated the more money the participants make. When most people were finding it hard to make ends meet they had to decide whether they could afford to educate their children. A few are still dealing with that but most are wondering whether to hire an extra labourer to grow more crops, or how much to invest in eco-tourism. The more money there is the more choices there seem to be. When it was suggested to a few farmers that they might not need to plant two hectares as they already had enough money to cover their needs, they were surprised and said they hadn’t thought of that.

The eco-tourism project has proved to be equally or more profitable than farming for those employed by it. The village members met with the eco-tourism specialists to decide how the profits should be divided. The eco-tourism team had come up with three proposals, inspired partly by the photos they saw last week of the real eco-tourism resort. There was not unanimous support for the development of the eco-tourism project this time and the reasons were varied. Someone suggested that too many tourist would result in too much “civilisation” coming to the village. Others, the struggling farmers, wanted to see some of the profit divided among the village members not all re-invested in making the project bigger and better. They saw the proposal to pour all the profit plus some further investment as too risky and voted accordingly. The vote was carried, however, and now the eco-tourism specialists are soliciting applications for boat drivers, tourist cabin builders and a boardwalk builder.

One of the struggling farmers commented to me that if most of the village were no longer farming, but employed by the eco-tourism project, the price of coffee, maize and cacao might rise. She is not applying for any of the jobs.

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