In July, Patricia Hollinger, Philip Marck and Kurt Van den Neste of BRS went to Ecuador for a prospect visit.
in the past, BRS has already supported various projects of Trias in Ecuador.
But in 2018, BRS started a direct collaboration with Unión El Ejido, a savings and credit cooperative from Cotocachi in the northern part of the Andean region. Here, 80% of the population lives in the countryside. In recent years, BRS has provided advice and training on specific themes such as: product development, audits, risk management and human resources.
One of the customers of Unión El Ejido, the cocoa farmer Edmundo, was in fact central during the Cera Zuidreis in Antwerp.
No Belgian chocolate without cacao farmers such as Edmundo.
During the prospect visit, there was of course a meeting with Mariana Arana, the CEO of Unión El Ejido. Because of the travel restrictions imposed by Covid, we hadn’t seen each other live in more than two years (except via Teams meetings).
We then visited two new organisations: the savings and credit cooperatives Hermes Gaibor and San Antonio.
Hermes Gaibor is active in the region of Moraspungo, a predominantly rural area in central Ecuador. It is a fairly small organisation with 23 staff and 11,000 customers (60% of whom are women), mainly farmers.
Hermes Gaibor is very socially oriented and tries to support and encourage its members in all kinds of ways. Their motto is to serve the community.
From there we travelled further south to Montalvo to visit the savings and credit cooperative San Antonio.
This organisation is much larger, has 60 staff and 33,000 customers (60% women).
Here too, the focus is on agriculture.
Despite the Covid crisis, the organisation experienced strong growth, which still presents it with a number of new challenges in which BRS would like to participate.
Initial contacts have been made, work points identified.
We look forward to working closely with both new organisations with confidence.
As they say in Spanish: “a continuar” (to be continued).