PlusPlus strengthening business relations in Central America

The PlusPlus Netherlands team recently met with Central American SMEs that are increasing their access to finance by partnering with Solidaridad and PlusPlus.

Investors, allies, entrepreneurs cooperative directors and associations attended the event

PlusPlus crowdfunding brings together a variety of conscientious European investors who want to make a difference through their investment decisions.

The meeting: investors and companies

A meeting was organized between different stakeholders: SMEs interested in accessing financing, regional companies and impact investors from Europe, who joined virtually the event called “Crowdfunding an innovative solution for agri-food companies”.

The event was held at the facilities of the Pule Lenca Specialty Coffee Cooperative located in La Paz, Honduras. Here, companies and investors got to learn about the motivations and financing needs of the interested parties, as well as the business expectations and the impact.

The PlusPlus Netherlands team learned the details of the Pule Lenca Specialty Coffee process.

What motivates me is supporting the growth of small businesses, especially if they have a positive environmental impact.

William, PlusPlus Netherlands Investor

The PlusPlus Netherlands team was represented by Lars Van Dorelman, director of investments, and Michelle Steggerda, investment manager, who had the opportunity to see Pule Lenca’s facilities first-hand.

Financial pioneers

Pule Lenca is the first company in Honduras that obtained financing from the PlusPlus platform. The cooperative was founded from the integration of 36 coffee farmers who came together to collectively boost their coffee production, sell it in international markets, and improve their living conditions. In 2015, the name of the cooperative was registered, and today its network is made up of 71 coffee farmers.

Pule Lenca’s purpose is to produce quality coffee and protect nature. Therefore, the producers grow their coffee in an environmentally friendly way, without using chemicals. Also, the cooperative provides coffee farmers with technical advice on the sustainable cultivation of coffee. In addition, all plantations are under shade and agroforestry systems, which helps protect the environment.

The biggest opportunity we have as a cooperative is that the international market currently demands sustainable organic coffee, this is a great opportunity for us.

-Nidia Vargas, Partner and Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Specialty Coffees Cooperative Pule Lenca
A few of Pule Lenca Specialty Coffee Cooperative’s characteristics.

Thanks to the loan received, Pule Lenca will now produce a larger volume of organic fertilizer. With this, producers will be able to apply it to their coffee plantations, helping them to improve their yields and produce in a nature-friendly way. This, as a consequence, provides better income for producers and their families.

The Pule Lenca-PlusPlus financing process.

Sustainable production

Since its inception, the purpose of Pule Lenca has been to produce quality coffee and protect nature. Hence, the need arose to build their own organic fertilizer processing plant using coffee pulp as the main raw material. For its preparation, they also use other natural products that provide the elements and nutrients necessary to enrich the soil.

With this, they minimize the use of chemical substances, guarantee good production yields, improve cup quality and increase demand for their coffee in the international market. In addition, this allows Pule Lenca to maintain their certifications of organic product, fair trade, rainforest alliance, denomination of origin Marcala, and Hands of Women.

Pule Lenca’s bets on a more organic agriculture and a more inclusive membership, focusing on youth and gender equity. Currently, its membership has the following representation:

  • Of its 71 members; 31 are women, 40 are men, and 17 are youth.
  • Five of the eight members of the board of directors are women.
  • The surveillance board and committees are formed under the same policy and inclusive representation.

Reclaiming sustainability

Global agricultural value chains are increasingly affected by external factors. The crisis due to the augmentation in chemical fertilizers, for example, exacerbates agricultural production, which generates risk in the face of an agri-food crisis. In addition, the goals that the countries are pursuing to counteract climate change are challenges that Central American companies and producers must face based on sustainable solutions.

In response to these challenges, Solidaridad supports companies and stakeholders in value chains. This is done through initiatives and programs that lead to a genuine transformation towards sustainability. Through inclusive dialogues, we seek to develop innovative and fair digital business models and link access to financing.

The first financing given to the cooperative is an example of the latter, it supports the growth of the company and its transformation towards organic and sustainable production.

Supporting SMEs through crowdfunding

Through the PlusPlus crowdfunding platform, European investors can provide affordable loans and support for agri-food SMEs that require capital to grow.

Access to a flexible financing mechanism like PlusPlus facilitates greater ownership in the supply chain for the companies and producers that are being supported. Thanks to financing, they can grow their business and contribute to regional development. In addition, investments are encouraged under inclusive models that promote sustainable production and consumption.

PlusPlus is a new non-traditional mechanism for companies. It fills us with great enthusiasm to meet more agri-food companies in Central America and to see how receptive, committed and interested they are in learning about and applying for our financing. For us, this is an opportunity to close the gaps that hinder the growth of our region, to create more equitable opportunities and to generate a greater impact in conjunction with the companies we finance.

Lucette Martinez, PlusPlus Coordinator in Mexico & Central America.

Regional visit

Solidaridad is positioning PlusPlus as a financial partner for SMEs in Central America, with a special focus on agri-food value chains. During this visit to Central America, they learned about businesses with great potential such as the coffee sector, cocoa, fruit and vegetable processing, honey, cardamom, and ginger, among others.

Beekeeping company, one of the SMEs visited by the financial partners.

Additionally, bilateral visits and meetings were held with collaboration partners and potential companies interested in accessing financing through PlusPlus. In 2022, the goal is to attract more companies with a focus on climate-smart agriculture and/or that are led by women.

For PlusPlus, sustainability means investing in impact instead of for profit. With access to finance, agri-food SMEs directly contribute to more sustainable food production, job creation and income for smallholders. They can really make a difference. PlusPlus enables them to do just that.

Peter Heijen, PlusPlus CEO

Do you want to learn more about PlusPlus and how to strengthen business relationships in Central America? You can contact Lucette Martinez, PlusPlus Coordinator in Mexico & Central America at