Ashoka workshop reveals growing appetite for market-based solutions to rural development

coffee‘We should no longer consider models in which this cooperation between sectors doesn’t exist … we have to complement one another and build new models that are based not on competition, but on cooperation.’ Thus said the head of the Sustentavia consultancy, speaking at a workshop organized by Ashoka and Fundemex in Mexico last month. The remark and the workshop at which it was made, entitled ‘Innovations in Rural Value Chains’, are both indications of a growing realization among both CSOs and business in Mexico that the strengths of the two sectors can be combined to create benefits for both, through so-called hybrid value chains which can create increased income for poor rural communities as well as profits for the companies.

The workshop discussed the central importance of social entrepreneurs to these chains, organizing small producers and aggregating demand to make economically sustainable transactions. It also showcased the work of a number of pioneers in the field, including Aires de Campo (pictured), which helps certify and bring organic produce to market, and Frogtek, whose mobile phone applications enable cooperatives to manage certification process or crop diseases.

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