The mountains of Peru

The mountains of Peru: a huge challenge but the cyclists also have their sights set on helping entrepreneurs

After raising more than €25,000 for female entrepreneurs in South America, two BSc Management graduates are setting off on a five-month bike challenge to visit the start-up companies they have helped.

Taddeo Carpinelli and Sixte Court-Payen, together with an old school friend, will start their journey this month at Lake Titicaca in southern Peru, cycling along the Camino del Puma (the Way of the Puma) before heading north to take on the biggest challenge of all – the Peru Great Divide.  

“The mountains of the Peru Great Divide will be a huge test,” Taddeo Carpinelli said.

“However, because of our experience at Warwick, we didn’t want our journey to be simply about adventure.

“We also wanted to use our journey to help people make a success of their small businesses.”

That’s why – when they have finished navigating the mountain passes and high plains of the Peruvian Andes – the three companions will be meeting some of the women entrepreneurs they have supported through their fundraising. This will be the first visit in a series of organised meetings with small business owners in Latin America.   

“We hope to stay in a place called Imperial, near Lima, for one or two weeks, and help out with the businesses if that is what the entrepreneurs want,” Taddeo said.

“If the entrepreneurs need help in things like accounting, financial management or marketing, then we can bring in some of the expertise we gained at Warwick Business School.”

Microfinance project

Taddeo and Sixte, together with Charles-Axel Rhea, who studied at Exeter University, all hail originally from Paris, and it was to a French NGO, Impulso, that they turned when they needed a partner for the fundraising project they had in mind.

“Impulso is well-known in the field of microfinance and have a track record of helping female entrepreneurs all around the world,” Taddeo said.

The type of enterprises the three graduates are supporting are small shops or restaurants, or laundry services and hostels, run by women in poor communities.

Typically excluded from classical banking, microfinance offers these businesswomen lower interest rates on loans and reinvestment of profits.

“The whole point of social finance and microloans is that the money is all reinvested to put children into school, and low-income families into better housing,” Taddeo said.

“It is well-established in Latin America, and when we saw that opportunity, we said ‘let’s go’.”     

The three former school friends teamed up with Impulso in May last year and formed Kokopelli Quest to kick-start their fundraising efforts. Numerous money-raising activities followed, including a traditional bol de riz event where the three returned to their former high school in Paris to serve up rice dishes as well as a dinner for 80 people at one of Paris’s leading restaurants.

The three graduates also approached private companies for investment and launched a crowd-funding site.

“The entrepreneurial way of thinking Sixte and I gained at Warwick Business School plus our membership of university societies helped with all of this,” said Taddeo, who was President of the Warwick Spi sailing club for two years.

“You learn how to manage yourself, raise money, and, perhaps most importantly, pivot when things are not going your way.

“That will be especially useful on our journey, I think. When you are 4,000 metres above sea level, sleeping in tents, staying in villages, it’s going to be a challenge.”

But the three cyclists are determined to visit as many entrepreneurs as they can on their trip through Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, according to Taddeo.

By the time they reach Cartagena on the north coast of Colombia at the end of their trip, he hopes they will have managed to have stayed in the villages of the entrepreneurs they have helped, shared meals with them, and seen the impact of their microfinance project on their lives and on the lives of their families. 


The BSc Management degree at Warwick Business School is ranked 2nd in the UK by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024.

Learn more about entrepreneurship on the four-day Executive Education course Entrepreneurship and Innovation at WBS London at The Shard.