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Much experienced was accumulated after several years of design and application of Pachamama Raymi. Many institutions, big and small, were implementing contests, in combinations with peer learning (farmer-to-farmer training). Pachamama Raymi had advanced into different countries, thanks mainly to a succession of European Union projects. Pachamama Raymi had shown it was capable of under the most demanding conditions. It had shown to be a versatile and potent instrument, even resilient.

Confidence in Pachamama Raymi was strong and growing. It was no longer an experiment. A leap of faith was no longer required to start using the methodology, as one could count on very successful experience from elsewhere.

However, the elements that were the very reasons why Pachamama Raymi was designed (very demanding targets, and achieving great results, fast) were generally lost. In other words, conventional projects incorporated some of the most visible elements of Pachamama Raymi, such as the contests and peer learning. By doing so, their results usually improved somewhat. However, the best projects (usually not the biggest) had shown that so much more could be achieved.

Founding Development & Excellence

Charles Patterson (from Strategies for International Development, see earlier on in the history of Pachamama Raymi) requested Willem van Immerzeel to design a project for Peru, to spread Pachamama on a grand scale. Willem, of course, had a different idea. He considered that there could be other instruments out there, may be much better ones than Pachamama Raymi. So he wrote a project that would identify, in a systematic manner, best practices among NGOs. He also included a mechanism to spread the best methodologies to others.

The project was based on very similar mechanisms as Pachamama Raymi: find the best. They define a quality standard. Spread their knowledge and know-how, for all to take advantage off. That, in a word or two, is now known as “knowledge management”. On top of that, put great “motivators” in place (motivate, not in the sense of persuasion, but in the sense of having a great motive). Pachamama Raymi had contests and prizes as motivators. NGOs are generally motivated by their financing (not meaning to offend). It was therefore necessary to adopt this logic in financing: increase financing to those with the best results, and decrease it for others. Quality will improve as a result.

The project was accepted and financed by USAID (Matching Grant Program). The team starting the project was Willem van Immerzeel and Hugo Wiener. They quickly contacted NGOs working in rural development, all over Peru, asking them to participate voluntarily in an evaluation to create quality standards, offering them only the opportunity to “learn from the best” practices found. The reaction was overwhelming and far exceeded our most optimistic expectations. In just a few weeks, over 70 NGOs from all over Peru signed up for the deal.

The project document –arbitrarily- limited participation to 21 organizations. Willem and Hugo wanted to step up to the challenge to work with 70+, as in so many organizations, it is likely to find more and better methodologies than in 21. However, they could not convince SID.

The idea to create a quality standard for rural development was launched, and there was great interest from the NGOs. The proposal appeared to have potential to improve results in development, not just in Peru, but anywhere in the world. Great results were possible, as Pachamama Raymi had shown, results such as eradicating poverty fast, environmental reclamation and other very relevant issues.

Not being able to pursue their ideas within SID-Peru, Willem and Hugo decided to continue without financial support. That’s how Development & Excellence International came about, better known as DEXCEL-International. It was founded in the Netherlands.

This brief but very intense period with SID determined the first activities of DEXCEL: develop a quality standard based on the best practices found out there. The best known to that date included MARENASS, SID-Bolivia and CEDAP, plenty of data was available to design the first draft for a quality standard of implementing agencies in rural development. On the other hand, it was necessary to contribute to spreading best practices, that is, the experience of the most effective and efficient projects. All such projects were Pachamama Raymi sprouts.

The task of spreading best methodologies inspired DEXCEL-International to invest in documentation and diffusion, including translating books and videos to English (pdf), French (pdf). This made it possible to think of supporting the introduction of Pachamama Raymi to Burkina Faso, in collaboration with the University of Wageningen, from 2008. It would be the first African country to introduce Pachamama Raymi.