7/1/16 – The Growing for the Future team has been conducting on the ground research in the coffee farms of Guatemala, in partnership with the non-profit coffee organization, De La Gente. Bishal Kafle, Javier Echeverria, and Austin Bell are focused on identifying methods that would improve smallholder farmer’s livelihoods as part of the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA program.
We landed in Antigua, Guatemala to work alongside De La Gente in their quest to help smallholder farmers. Thus far, we have learned the entire process of coffee production and have been working directly with farmers planting seedlings, fertilizing the plants organically, cleaning/drying/sorting the coffee beans, roasting the coffee, and finally packaging it. Experiencing the entire process first hand exposed us to the challenges that smallholder farmers are facing, and has prepared us for finding opportunities that will bring more value to farmers and their families.
In collaboration with De La Gente, we have been focusing on finding market opportunities in the US for selling roasted packaged coffee, because this brings much more value to smallholder farmers than selling green coffee alone. In order to achieve this goal we have been working on developing a report that focuses on market opportunities for De La Gente and the cooperatives with whom they work. We have applied our learnings from our marketing class in order to identify potential target markets, segment those markets according to our customer’s needs, and find the best channels available for reaching these market segments. We created an in depth analysis of the potential market opportunities by identifying advantages, disadvantages, and providing detailed recommendations for entering new markets and increasing the sales of roasted packaged coffee.
In addition to performing market research we have been analyzing De La Gente’s financials, reports, and sales history in order to find opportunities that are within the scope of the organization. The knowledge gained from our financial and managerial accounting class has proved to be extremely beneficial in understanding how the organization is financially structured, and identifying what they can do to improve their bottom line. Through the knowledge gained from our GSSE classes, and the knowledge gained from working with farmers in the field, we hope to be able to provide legitimate strategies that can be used to increase the sales of coffee, and therefore add value to smallholder farmers and their families.
During our remaining time in Guatemala, we will identify other high value agro products that are considered superfoods and have the potential to be exported to the US as a value-added product. Growing for the Future has gained a tremendous amount of agricultural knowledge during our venture development experience in Guatemala, and we will continue to focus on research that will create opportunities for smallholder farmers.