Five years ago, Maria owned a single cow to produce milk for her family.
An idea sparked when talking to other women around her community in Rosillas, Bolivia also struggling to make ends meet. Most families in the community are dedicated to agricultural and livestock activity, all families have milk-producing cows.
“We are a community dedicated to agriculture, we live from the consumption and sale of what we produce.”
They were all ready to take charge to improve their family’s circumstances. So, a group of 27 women formed the Association of Revived Agri-Food Women (referred to as “AMAR”).
Over the past five years, the group pooled their resources to grow a large number of cows and begin in the production of artisan dairy products: yogurt, milk liqueur, Creole cheese, and cheese spread. Dairy products were produced in a traditional way, and in minimal quantities.
“My favorite time of the day is when all of us come together for dairy processing. You can see how empowering this work is.”
Unfortunately, after a few years or marginal profits, Maria still couldn’t figure out why their business wasn’t booming. Profits weren’t aligning with the hard work and dedication put in by each woman in the group, and the need of the area.
“Our problem was the lack of organization by the partners, we lacked equipment and technical support to improve the quality of the presentation of our products. If we wanted to enter the formal market, we needed a registration from the local health authorities.”
Esperança’s community development team on the ground in Bolivia began working with the association in 2019, training the women to improve their hygiene processes and provide equipment to streamline production, with an end goal to gain the business registration and increase profits.
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, knowledge of improved hygiene practices became increasingly important for rural communities like Rosillas that do not have access to medical care.
“Before Esperança, hygiene was not taken into account.”
In addition to providing new equipment and improvements to the production center, Esperança’s team trained the 28 women of AMAR how to:
- prepare higher quality dairy products, complying with national health standards
- follow a written hygiene procedure
- strategize how to market their products
- unionize and improve the association membership experience
“In addition to the support received for the improvement of dairy production, we have received guidance and training for the prevention of domestic violence, in the family and among partners.”
AMAR is contributing to the healthy eating of local products for the entire population of Rosillas while reducing gender inequality and lowering rates of domestic violence, not to mention, their production and sales have increased tenfold.
“Seeing that all families in the community consume dairy products made by the AMAR fills me with such pride.
We want to thank you for the support which gives us the opportunity to improve our income, and strengthen and contribute to the growth of the association. It also contributes to the development of our community, improving family nutrition and women-owned business.”
What started as one cow and a passion for entrepreneurship has grown to the pride of an entire community, thanks to your support of Esperança.