Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

Karen Blanchard


Hotel con Corazón, a boutique hotel and social enterprise located in Granada, Nicaragua, through its Foundation, invests 100 percent of its profits in local education programs to empower students, their families and the community to build brighter futures. The Foundation works within a rural locality 20 minutes outside of the city, where the majority of the 3,900 inhabitants live in moderate to severe economic poverty. Completing its eighth year of working in the Las Lagunas community, the Foundation was motivated to carry out an impact assessment in order to learn more about the experiences of the different groups of stakeholders involved and improve the programs.

From October 2016 to April 2017, I worked with the program staff at Hotel con Corazón to design and implement an impact assessment, a study that investigates changes brought about by an intervention (a program, project, activity, etc.) seeking to understand both the positive and negative effects. We intended to use an innovative methodology and research tool that was designed in the Netherlands, where I had spent the preceding three months learning about the process. In Nicaragua there are approximately 3,500 NGOs working towards alleviating and ending the social problems that many Nicaraguans face. Many of these NGOs are founded and run by foreigners and use a more top-down approach, instead of a bottom-up framework, utilizing local knowledge and expertise to create more sustainable solutions. Because of this experience, I framed this research paper around the central question: How can co-creation processes in impact assessments serve as a tool for empowerment, capacity building and sustainable solutions in rural communities?

The impact assessment included interviewing 100 stakeholders and also a conducting a small focus group involving seven community members. After the evaluation was complete, I reviewed existing literature on the topics of co-creation and participatory Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E), and interviewed several practitioners – both from Nicaragua and from the Netherlands – about their experiences with these methodologies and approaches in conducting collaborative evaluations in the community. Their stories illustrate the benefits and necessity of co-creation in conducting impact assessments in rural communities.


Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Latin American Studies | Organization Development