EarthEmpower: transforming diversity and tradition into nutrition, economy, and empowerment in Guatemala
EarthEmpower transforms diverse crops into nutritious snacks to catalyze solutions for malnutrition, empowerment & conservation in Guatemala
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.
Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)
Annual budget in 2017 (USD)
Number of beneficiaries impacted so far
Headquarters location: Country
Headquarters location: City
Location(s) of impact
Video de EarthEmpower en Español
Mary, our Guatemala Director, is piloting some of our nutritious snacks!
Working in our pilot kitchen! finding nutritious and sustainable solutions for the future!
Traditional textiles of Guatemala
Maize with Lake Atitlan in the background
Maize emerging from soil conservation practices in Guatemala with a volcano on the horizon.
The beautiful native maize of Guatemala
Some sweet and savory granola bars from EarthEmpower
Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?
Rural poverty and food insecurity are too common in Guatemala with over 53% of the population living in poverty and 48% suffering from malnutrition. Problems are concentrated among indigenous communities where 80% of children live with chronic malnutrition. Crop yields are very low, usually insufficient for food security, and getting lower due to increasing drought and frost from climate change. Without a market or empowerment, women farmers cannot move past poverty and malnutrition for their families.
Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?
EarthEmpower is creating shared value – achieving social and environmental outcomes while still creating economic value. We give voice to women farmers to guide community empowerment and sustainability initiatives. For our products, women-grown native nutritious crops are packed into on-the-go, delicious granola bars and other snacks to be sold in high-value U.S. markets. We established prototypes in our pilot kitchen, now ready to take to market.
We innovate and create shared value by the following company practices: 1) we promote diversity and nutritious crops always encouraging nutrition, 2) we always prioritize food security and we will buy only small amounts of grains from each farmer, and 4) we will also launch affordable and nutritious snack bars for local markets which will make nutritious snack accessible to rural communities in Guatemala. Fighting against malnutrition and climate change, we work directly with farming communities to find innovative and inclusive solutions.
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work
EarthEmpower as a company is currently valued to be worth over USD $1 million and is projected within 5 years to be worth over USD $5 million. As we have yet to launch to market scale we are not yet earning revenue beyond consulting projects which is not the key component to our work. When we begin to be profitable, our profits will be invested in community and environmental initiatives and business expansion to other countries.
Our current impact in 2017 reached farmers through consulting projects with farmers in Oaxaca, Mexico to improve soil conservation and productivity (500 farmers) and in the pilot project buying crops from approx. 25 farmers in Guatemala. Future impacts include a projected 25,000 children with improved nutrition, 10,000 women with improved livelihoods and empowerment, and 3000 hectares under conservation practices in the next three years.
Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?
EarthEmpower shift from a start-up funding model to a scaling and operations model.
-Individual donations or gifts – 10% - Grants -10% - Corporate contributions - 10% - Earned income – 30% - Other – 40%
-Individual donations or gifts – 0% - Grants -0% - Corporate contributions - 0% - Earned income - 70% - Other – 30%
EarthEmpower is a private venture that will move to viability once it reaches scale. As we move out of the pilot phase, we will sell our products to high value markets, thus ensuring viability. Our projections suggest an ROI of 28 months and will reach projected revenues of 2.5 million USD by year 3. During startup, we are sustained by consulting fees, small private investors, grants, and donations.
Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?
With ten years’ in intl. ag and nutrition, I have seen endless efforts to solve problems with outsiders, always the next technology, but problems persist. We work differently, we start with local knowledge and look for solutions together with the community. Respecting traditional practices, we also prioritize needs for improving nutrition and economies. We are inherently intersectional, starting with women and empowerment, working for healthy humans and environment, and a more stable future.
Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.
During 1000 or so visits to farms in Latin America and Africa, talking to farmers, especially women, I saw how much these women know about their land and crops than many of us who studied crops and soils in university, yet most projects don’t take their knowledge into consideration.
In my work at NGOs, all around me I saw the history of slow-moving and ineffective development projects. Through handouts and top-down mono-crop based projects, farmers have become un-empowered and often more food-insecure than their traditional systems.
Project after project looked the same and I wasn’t seeing change in the field with farmers and I wasn’t being challenged by my work.
Maybe there was not one moment, but many small moments that led to when I knew that I was ready to empower other women and myself, because together we have everything we need to launch a company and change the world.
Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?