“Think about the many men and women working in remote fields and villages, left behind and oftentimes forgotten by a world that continues to move faster and faster. We proudly connect small farmers in Ecuador and Peru with world markets. Every time someone enjoys a KIWA product, the collective heart of humanity beats a little loud"
- Martin Acosta, KIWA founder-
One of our values is represented by the letter A which stands for “Amigos” (friends) of the environment, society, and all stakeholders. Our work with small farmers and other stakeholders in South America is rooted in what Michael Porter calls “shared value”.
Working With Our Farmers
We work with small farmers not because we want to be “socially-responsible” but because we want to share with our supply-chain members the value that we are creating with Kiwa, by working together, as one team looking for a better future for all of us.
For Kiwa, being global is only half the story. The other half is about the farmers who grow our vegetables. We learned early on that fair trade does not always mean fair to the farmer.We provide small farmers with predetermined and fair prices, technical support, high quality seeds, and continuous training to help them increase their yield and diversify their crops. In 2016, we began offering direct financing to help farmers grow their businesses and create more jobs.
We are very thankful to development organizations such as USAID (United States Agency for International Development), GIZ (German Development Organization), and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) for supporting our efforts.
STORIES OF OUR FARMERS
Name: ARCADIO CHICO
Farmer of: Native Potatoes
Geographical Zone: Juan Benigno Vela
Arcadio belongs to the association of producers AGROPAPA, he grows native potatoes in the area of Juan Benigno Vela, at approximately 2950m/ (9,700) ft above sea level. During his agricultural activities Arcadio is always supported by his family and he usually growssmall lots of both varieties (Yana shungo and Puca Shungo) throughout the year. Arcadio is very proud to be one of our main producers in the province of Tungurahua and for that reason INALPROCES granted him a credit in 2016.
Arcadio tells us that he wants to grow native potatoes forever because besides making a lucrative business, he obtains a healthy and nutritious product for his family. Arcadio is a very cheerful farmer and he is always eager to help with whatever he is asked.
Name: RAFAEL MEDINA
Farmer of: Native Potatoes
Geographical Zone: Munlanleo
Rafael also belongs to the association of producers AGROPAPA, his fieldsare located at 3,400m/ (11,150)ft above sea level, very close to the Chimborazo volcano (The maximum elevation in Ecuador). He is an entrepreneur and curious farmer because in addition to grow native potatoes to supply to Inalproces SA, he has been involved in the research of the new genotypes of native potatoes of INIAP (National Institute of Agricultural Research), and whose purpose Is to develop new genetic alternatives for the future.
Rafael has several children and grandchildren, and he teaches them his personal techniques for growing the native potato, Rafael holds the record of potato production in his area.
Name: SONIA MALDONADO
Farmer of: White Carrot
Geographical Zone: La Merced
Sonia Maldonado, lives in the community of "La Merced" located in the Urcuquí, province of Imbabura, 3 hours away from Quito.
She is 33 years old and lives with her mother and siblings. She grows white carrots and sweet potatoes. In addition, she complements her income by raising pigs.
Inalproces granted a credit to Sonia so that she can invest in the planting of White Carrot, now Sonia is convinced to continue with this work and to produce all year long healthy products with the support of her family.
Name: NELLY SANTACRUZ
Farmer of: Camote
Geographical Zone: El Puente
Nelly Santacruz is 67 years old, lives in the area of "El Puente" located in Urcuquí , province of Imbabura, 3 hours ayaw from Quito.
She lives with her husband and is involved in agriculture and the sale of agricultural fresh produce such as avocado, chili, peas and peas.
Nowadays, she is growing orange and purple sweet potato for Inalproces, she is very happy because she has the opportunity to grow more products that were previously produced only for the household. She is also very proud to know that her product is sold in other countries around the world.
To promote social and economic development of the rural farming communities, as well as many other communities to come soon, we created a certification called Direct Trade. This informal certification aims to award and support those inclusive businesses which are cutting intermediaries - splitting what the intermediary normally would have taken and in turn generating higher income for low-income communities. Direct Trade not only encourages better production practices but helps communities to benefit from economic development that can only be achieved from a direct, ethical and social interaction between low-income suppliers, consumers and manufacturers. In the specific case of Kiwa, by doing Direct Trade and avoiding the intermediaries, we are able to pay higher prices to small farmers and keep a margin to re-invest in them: providing them with a stable market at predetermined prices, technical assistance, training, seeds and more. At the end what we want is for our farmers to obtain higher income, but also to increase their productivity while supplying us with high quality raw materials.
We believed in Direct Trade so much, we branded the concept
We want to create social, environmental and economic impact. We thought that Fair Trade certification did not properly integrate all those things, so we created our own initiative. Thus you can find the Direct Trade logo in all our packaging, and more info at www.direct-trade.org. Basically, this initiative aims to support those inclusive businesses which are cutting intermediaries, and then splitting with their low-income suppliers what the intermediary normally would have taken, thus generating higher income for both parties. Direct Trade helps communities to benefit from economic development that can only be achieved from a direct and ethical interaction between suppliers, manufacturers, and consumers. In the specific case of Kiwa, by doing Direct Trade and avoiding the intermediaries, we are able to pay higher prices to small farmers and keep a margin to re-invest in them: providing them with a stable market at predetermined prices, technical assistance, training, seeds and more. At the end what we want is for our farmers to obtain higher income and productivity, while supplying us with standardized high quality raw materials.
KIWA INVESTMENT SUMMIT
In 2015 we created a unique event whereby 20 companies from 7 countries in Latin America were able to pitch in front of angel investors, venture capitalists, development organizations, and other financing options. We also had fantastic speakers and provided selected investors with greater understanding of the investment opportunities in Latin America. In sum, we connected high growth Latin American companies with investors, development agencies and critical growth resources, and in the process generated lasting relationships that will continue to have a positive impact in the region. For a quick summary, see this video: http://www.kiwasummit.com/video/
STANFORD UNIVERSITY EXTREME PROGRAM 2017
We have partnered with the Extreme program for graduate students at Stanford University. Two different teams of Stanford students will be helping us throughout 2017 to reduce costs for our best-selling Beetroot chips and to develop a tool to assist Native Potatoes farmers.
These Native potatoes are farmed by a large portion of female farmers, whose husbands work skilled-labor jobs in the city. They have little help with the labor-intensive process and the few men that are around charge them a lot for it, severely cutting into their profits. The goal is to develop a tool to make harvesting for these farmers easier. Stanford University describes the project like this: “An ambitious, for-profit, Ecuadorian kettle-chip company that fundamentally believes in building shared value with farmers desires to further realize their shared-value philosophy by developing a tool to make potato harvesting less laborious for farmers while maintaining their supply of high-quality native Andean potatoes, and commitment to conserving biodiversity. Hard-working, subsistence potato growers in rural highland regions need a tool or system that facilitates reduced damage to potatoes and less dependence on unavailable or unjust laborers during time-sensitive potato harvests.”