(See the first part of this post.)

Rural Women on the Road to Prosperity

Through the project of this name, Heifer has worked with 28 rural organizations in Central America to implement the LINK Methodology. It selected three cases from this work (one in Guatemala, involving the groundnut value chain; another in Honduras, focusing on honey; and a third in Nicaragua, also dealing with honey) for a capitalization process carried out with CIAT, which gave way a comparative study too. Within the next few months, Heifer and the Ford Foundation will publish the results of this study.

In Guatemala, the study case centers on the commercial relationship between the Unión Esperanza women´s group and an enterprise named Dulces Típicos Delicias Huehuetecas, working in the groundnut value chain. The women´s group was created in 1995 to sell groundnuts to intermediaries and consumers. Dulces Típicos (typical sweets) is an informal client, which has been operating locally since 2012, with two points of sale in the capital of the department of Huehuetenango and another strategic outlet in a market specifically for typical sweets in Antigua Guatemala. The relationship between the two started in 2013.

In Honduras, the commercial relationship links a beekeepers cooperative – Cooperativa Apícola Pionera de Honduras Limitada (COAPIHL, its acronym in Spanish) – with Supermercados Del Corral in the honey value chain. COAPIHL has nearly 40 years of experience in the beekeeping industry, with 61 active members, while the Del Corral supermarkets were established in 1988, with a focus on supporting local small-scale producers. The two have worked through an informal commercial relationship, with low sales volumes, since 2005.

In Nicaragua, the commercial relationship involves the Cooperativa Multiservicios Tierra de Nutrias R.L and the Unión de Cooperativas de Servicios Agropecuarios Tierra Nueva R.L. (COSATIN), also in the honey value chain. Tierra de Nutrias is a first level cooperative, which was formed in 2012, bringing together 50 producers. COSATIN is a second level organization with 630 member cooperatives. The two had no commercial relationship prior to the study.

“One of our principal aims in the project supported by the Ford Foundation, in terms of impact, was to increase the incomes of the 28 participating organizations. Now, we have the results of an evaluation with two organizations, which show that their incomes rose by 23%, on average, as a result of more formal alliances and market access as well as improved productivity and better product quality and presentation.”

Jennifer Zapata

Regional Director for Mesoamerica, Heifer International

In this project, Heifer has applied the LINK methodology together with other tools for costing and budgeting, which make it possible to analyze the finances of the participating organizations and prioritize the activities that most urgently need improvement. In addition, Heifer has supported the implementation of LINK by using adult education methods that cater to the many groups consisting of women who live in rural areas and belong to indigenous groups, as is the case in Guatemala. With some of these groups, the challenge is not only to overcome illiteracy but to communicate with local actors in their native language.

Heifer is currently preparing its own manual for internal use in future cases. It will include the tools in addition to LINK that Heifer applied in Central America.

Follow the various parts of this story:

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The LINK Methodology was developed as part of the New Business Models for Sustainable Trading Relationships Project, managed by the Sustainable Food Lab in collaboration with Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and Rainforest Alliance (RA) with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) has supported further development of the toolkit with international NGOs in Latin America, including CRS, VECO and Heifer International.

The authors of this post:

Erika Eliana Mosquera

Erika Eliana Mosquera

Communications Analyst, Decision and Policy Analysis Research Area

Jhon Jairo Hurtado

Jhon Jairo Hurtado

Researcher, Decision and Policy Analysis Research Area

Natalia Gutiérrez

Natalia Gutiérrez

Communications Analyst, Decision and Policy Analysis Research Area

Mark Lundy

Mark Lundy

Theme Leader of Linking Farmers to Markets, Decision and Policy Analysis Research Area

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