This update is day late, but we still wanted to share our key learning’s of yesterday’s meetings.
In the morning, we met with the Integrated Food Security Program in Bolivia. This program operates in three pillars of food security: availability, access, use of food, and vulnerability. The operations manager of this program gave us some very valuable information on the steps needed to register a business in Bolivia. She also gave us cost information to help with our financials. In addition, we got the low down on the very complicated labor law issues in Bolivia and the different employee benefits and taxes that a corporation has to abide by. This conversation made us realize that managing a business in Bolivia, will be quite difficult!
The IFS Program is also working with llama manure composting and working with Quinoa farmers in the Altiplano to better manage the production of large scale quinoa farming. They invited us to go with them to the field next week and see their technical operations, as well as talk to the farmers that they work with. We are very interested in seeing what they are doing, so we don’t overlap and we can find ways to collaborate together. It is important for us to see what else is going on in the country to get a better understanding of the realities of the market.
Then, we met with Beatriz Garcia, a friend of our funder, Philanthropiece. We talked about our plans this summer with her and she recommended that the sooner we get out to the fields, the better- we are planning to leave La Paz on Monday to go to the field. We will be in touch with her during these next few weeks. She has valuable contacts that can help us get a better understanding of the complicated quinoa realities here such as land rights, production, etc.
Finally, we met with Rene Churquina from the Swedish run Bolivian Sustainability Hub. Rene is a connection that we got from David Andersson, a visitor at CSU that is working on biochar in Sweden. Rene has a connection with a start-up business incubator in sustainable projects. He invited us to come present to them and talk about our own crowdsourcing experience. We will be going to present tomorrow evening and meet the start-up entrepreneurs.
Rene is also interested in putting us in touch with a Bolivian quinoa entrepreneur who might be interested in taking this business on. He recommended us to be aware of the business climate and the people while doing our business plan as well as pay very close attention to the certifications that we need to get to be able to sell to exporting companies. Lots of information to digest!