“Fabulous, finally I can have a project in my sector, unrelated to teaching English or environmental awareness. A real life business development project in a region desperate for development.” So I thought About a month ago when I found a flier for agricultural business grants from the EU at my office.
So I called up my pal in the agriculture/food processing department and set up a meeting with him and his director. At this meeting I learn that it is impossible for our region’s agribusinesses to take advantage of the grants because they aren’t registered. I was highly doubtful but unable to get a copy of the grant application for another week to check his claims. Also, I partially believed the director would have known better than I, so I put the project on my “back burner”, expecting maybe a 51% chance he was right.
After reading the grant’s documents, which are only available in Albanian, I realize my suspicions were right: it is very possible for our local farmers to apply and receive these grants for their business. None of the “impossible” demands mentioned by the director existed.
So I go back to the Agriculture/food processing department and ask them, “Why do you think its impossible?” They tell me the same lines but this time I say “I have read the document and it seems very possible. Ive talked to the business registry guy and he says its the minority of businesses who are not registered.”
It was at this point I learned from them that:
1. I am 100% correct that agribusinesses in our region can apply for this grant. In fact, at least 1 or another agribusiness had applied for a grant on their own already.
2. the deadline is 10 days away. Basically, if you hadn’t already started there is not enough time remaining.
In sum, I had been seriously mislead by my own colleagues regarding the possibility for a potentially very beneficial project in their sector. This whole opportunity has been completely lost. The farmers wont develop their businesses, the folks at the agriculture department wont develop their grant writing skills or business development skills or connections with local farmers, I wont have an awesome project for my CV, Peace Corps will have one less project to report to Washington DC…
…Cue my anger/confusion/disappointment…
What happened exactly? I find myself at fault for moving to slowly on the issue but at the same time why didn’t peace corps, who sends me tons of spam email already, send me something about this grant opportunity? Why were there so few application materials available by the Agriculture Department when the project was announced? Why was I told not to bother because it is impossible when it was in fact very possible?
So what did I learn from this experience?
- Don’t rely on solely on local colleagues for reliable information. If I see grant opportunities now I am going to go straight to the national office and acquire all my information there.
- Move more quickly on grant opportunities because you may have found out about it some time after the grant was officially announced. The next such grant opportunity that comes by I am going to ambush.