Dutch cheese for rural development in Colombia.

Co-create an inclusive business with small-scale milk farmers and built a future for the rural youth.

Photo of Tobias Rijnsdorp
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • Spanish

Organization name


Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Start-Up (a pilot that has just started operating)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $10k - $50k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 100 - 250

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • Colombia

Headquarters location: City

Bogota D.C.

Location(s) of impact

Colombia: Monquentiva, Bogota D.C.



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Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

In the Colombian dairy sector, there is a lot of willingness and potential for innovation. Small-scale farmer cooperatives often lack the financial capacity or knowledge to innovate. Many of them don’t have access to formal markets or are completely dependent on the huge dairy processors in the country, resulting in a lack of rural development, poverty and linearly a massive movement of youngsters to the cities, with poor and abandoned villages as a consequence.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

A young social Dutch entrepreneur started an inclusive and innovative cheese business together with a cooperative of small-scale milk farmers (COLEGA). The company (HolaAndes) was created to improve farmers income, a better future for the youth and less dependency on huge dairy processors. The business model is based on the principle of benefit sharing and knowledge transfer, by creating a high-quality cheese product, with Dutch knowledge and technology. The small-scale Colombian milk farmers are at the core of the business and their engagement in the process, from product development to its commercialization, contributes to an increase in their competitive advantage on the market. The company creates new opportunities for the youth and generates income for the entire community, by adding value to the milk chain and by attracting turism. All 95 farmers of the cooperative have an equal share in the company.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

Social: HolaAndes trained four youngsters in the village, to produce cheese according to the Dutch standards. The production and commercialization of cheese added value to the existing value chain of milk and generates a second income for the farmers, contributing to improved livelihoods. In addition, the cheesemakery attracts (eco)tourism to the village that creates an extra income for the local community. The 95 small-scale farmers of the cooperative have a 50% share in the company. Environmental: COLEGA is located at an altitud of 3000m in a natural park, which was heavily affected by the war between the FARC and the Colombian government. Part of the income of HolaAndes goes to the conservation and protection of the natural resources in the area. HolaAndes wants to invest in environmental solutions, for example a biodigestor to generate electricy for the cheesemakery and the local community.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

In 2017, HolaAndes received Technical Assistance from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This gift was used to invest in machinery and knowledge from Holland and to build the cheesemakery. In June 2017, the first cheeses were produced. We started with 30 KG a month to test the market. HolaAndes currently produces 50KG a week, mostly B2C. This month we start the B2B sales. The idea is to duplicate this model to other parts of Colombia and Latin America. The production capacity in the village is 350KG. With the current growth we expect to produce 150KG/ week by the end of next year, enough for a sustainable business and with capacity to grow. 1. Subsidy (95%) 4. Earned income (5%) Estimation 2018: 1. Donations and gifts (10%) 4. Earned income (90%)

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

HolaAndes is a co-created inclusive business in which both the Dutch entrepreneur as the cooperative of farmers have a share. The entire community benefits from the cheese sales. The extra income leads to improved livelihoods, new interest of the youth to stay in the village and new investments in nature conversation projects. The co-creation of the business results in a special product, combining the best of Holland (cheese) with the passion and natural richness of the Andes (HolaAndes)

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

In 2013, I was doing my thesis in South/West Colombia, about the challenges of linking small-scale farmers to formal markets. I missed the cheese from the cheese capital and my hometown Gouda while living in Cali. When I shared the first real Gouda cheese with Colombian friends, I was surprised by their reactions. They loved it. One friend asked me; ‘would it be possible to produce tasty and creamy cheese like this in Colombia’? After a bit of research our conclusion was; ‘probably yes’. This is where the idea was born. In 2014 I went back to Holland to work at HEINEKEN. After two years I decided to quit my job to see whether I could fulfill my dream; producing artisanal cheese according to the Dutch recipe in Colombia together with small-scale farmers with the objective to built an inclusive business.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Upon recommendation from others

1 comment

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Photo of Mouhamadou Moustapha Seck

Really interesting. I really appreciate this work and want to help for everything you need.