Rural employment, including farmers and hired labor, supports one in five people in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the ILO, though it’s estimated that poverty rates are two to three times higher in rural areas than urban areas (ECLAC).
During the pandemic, employment among women, young people and rural workers dropped precipitously. Broad alliances in the public and private sector are working collaboratively to find solutions to these problems. ‘Red Emprende Rural’ is a new alliance between Solidaridad and Bayer that targets women and young people in rural areas of Colombia and Costa Rica.
Bayer and Solidaridad first teamed up in 2021 in Colombia working with women farmers to improve farming practices and environmental awareness, which showed positive results. The new programme will help close entrepreneurship gaps for both women and young people in Colombia and Costa Rica.
The project is focused on improving the skills and competencies of rural entrepreneurs to develop sustainable businesses and increase household income. The initiative aims to reach 500 participants.
In Costa Rica, Solidaridad will work with women in the cantons of Cañas and Abangares in the Guanacaste province, and in the canton of Miramar in the Puntarenas province. In Colombia, the programme will target women and young people in the Sugamuxi province in the department of Boyacá.
Although farmers and workers in the two countries confront different realities and challenges, the programme presents an opportunity to turn their work into successful businesses that generate social and economic development. Last year, groups in Costa Rica worked on food safety issues and home gardens, while producers in Colombia engaged in dairy projects.
Looking at Leadership, Encouraging Collaboration
The project aims to strengthen rural entrepreneurs by not only building up their leadership skills, but encouraging collaboration as well. The focus on collaboration and association can help promote adoption of business ideas. In the rural setting, association among producers is a viable alternative to reduce costs, increase production capacity, and strengthen negotiating power. The project will introduce the “Canvas” business model and the Value proposition, as well as business habits, that can improve and professionalize the entrepreneur’s approach.
Providing skills development through education and last-mile support
Project participants will be able to develop their skills through a variety of formats, including guides and materials for use at home, face-to-face counseling sessions, and workshops. The primary topics and lesson plans have already been completed by the network, with programme delivery to begin in 2023.
In addition to training, participants will receive tailored counseling based on where they are in their entrepreneurial journey, which can include technical, commercial and financial topics.
Ruta Emprende Rural aims to make agricultural production a sustainable, viable option for entrepreneurs. The programme is part of a commitment from Bayer’s Agriculture Division to coach 100 million smallholder farmers around the world on the path towards modern and sustainable agriculture through science and innovation.