In 2011 Grameen Foundation established an office in Medellín to move closer to those we work to empower — the poor and poorest.
Community Knowledge Worker (Líderes Productores)
We launched our Community Knowledge Worker (known locally as Líderes Productores) in 2013 to strengthen agricultural value chains and to help smallholder farmers improve their production and earn a higher income. The program draws from Grameen Foundation’s initial work in Uganda and has been adapted to the Latin American context using a human-centered design approach.
Líderes Productores work in their communities with farmers, agricultural cooperatives, and rural networks using mobile devices to capture information through our TaroWorks™ mobile data management tool. Working through local networks, we are able to increase farmers’ technical capacity and their ability to earn higher prices with individualized Farm Management Plans that enable them to receive individualized agricultural training and certifications, such as Starbucks’ C.A.F.E. Practices.
MANA Food Security Program
In 2013 we began working with the provincial government of Antioquia’s MANA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on the “Gardens of Opportunity” program. Through this initiative, MANA technicians use TaroWorks to digitize a formerly paper-based operation and added valuable digital training content. The technicians can now collect, process and analyze data in real-time, which streamlines decision-making and reduces travel costs and data collection time.
The government uses the information to build socio-economic profiles of participant families and then works with them to increase production in their backyard gardens, thereby improving regional food security. As of July 2014, 213 agricultural technicians have collected information from 29,460 families in 125 municipalities. Our goal is to support 35,000 families living in vulnerable communities and rural areas of Antioquia.
Mobile Sourcing and Purchasing
We are working with Alsur (Alianza Hortofruticola del Sur), a horticultural cooperative that helps five farmer associations to sell their produce to large grocery chains within Colombia. Alsur takes daily orders for produce from the grocery stores and then delivers the produce from the farmers to the stores. We are testing mobile sourcing and purchasing solutions to improve revenue predictability for more farmers in the Department of Nariño.
During a two-phase pilot, they will use our TaroWorks tool to track and confirm orders, receive payments, collect real-time data, create individualized performance reports, and reduce travel costs. The aim of this pilot is to advance the cooperative’s profitability, financial predictability, and benefit smallholder farmers within the value chain.
Designed with the farmer in mind, the second phase will introduce SMS messaging to notify producers of their delivery responsibilities and connect them to banks and financial services through mobile payments. With the support of Alsur, our work will decisively address a major obstacle to financial inclusion in the region. In the upcoming year, we will be positioned to offer scalable and sustainable mobile transactions and financial services.