We’ve all heard about health benefits of “super foods” such as quinoa, chia, and amaranth, but how many of us know the stories behind the companies that make it possible for us to buy these products?
Find out more about a surprising company that managed to cross borders with the help of ConnectAmericas, the online platform run by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to promote the internationalization of companies from Latin America and the Caribbean.
Ecoinca SAC is a Peruvian company that sells herbal teas and organic seeds from the regions of Arequipa, Ayacucho, Andahuaylas, and Cuzco, in Peru. Founded in 2008 by Rachelle Olortegui, the firm works directly with producers from these regions and plays an active role in the value chains for its products. Ecoinca SAC has a direct impact on 200 families in these regions, which it provides with free technical assistance to from sowing to harvest. The company provides microcredit, seeds, and fertilizers to help ensure its products are grown sustainably and organically, and also helps producers obtain organic certification.
Rachelle, who emigrated to Australia when she was 17, realized that there was great potential for taking native Peruvian herbs to different international markets, where their properties and unique flavors could be appreciated by a wider audience. Rachelle discovered the secret of success for taking her products to new horizons when she understood the need to support and work directly with farmers to guarantee that her company’s herbal teas and Andean seeds such as quinoa and kiwicha were produced organically.
As part of her tireless search for new markets and new opportunities for her business, Rachelle Olortegui discovered ConnectAmericas. She was invited to take part in LAC Flavors (link in Spanish), an annual business roundtable that specializes in the food and beverage sector that the IDB has organized since 2009, in partnership with the governments of different countries in the region who have hosted the event.
Each year at LAC Flavors, food and beverage producers and distributors from Latin America and the Caribbean meet with potential international buyers and partners from within the region and from Asia, Europe, and North America to foster new business opportunities through business-to business (B2B) meetings.
Taking part in LAC Flavors gave Ecoinca the chance to meet face-to-face with dozens of international buyers in a single place, so that in only two days the company was able to identify new markets in which to grow its exports.
Not only did Rachelle manage to make business contacts that would later translate into new export sales to the US and countries in Europe, she also received feedback from buyers regarding product quality, presentation, distribution, marketing strategies, and other key aspects of global trade. This learning experience allows companies such as Ecoinca to improve their value chains (link in Spanish) without needing to hire the services of expensive consultancy firms.
Since founding Ecoinca, Rachelle has always been aware of the importance of certifications and international quality standards for taking her products to new markets and teaching people about ancient Peruvian culture through them.
Her story is a great example of how the perseverance of entrepreneurs and the opportunities provided by spaces like LAC Flavors help to create success stories among the region’s SMEs.
Just like Rachelle, companies can discover opportunities at LAC Flavors to present their products to a huge number of potential buyers from all five continents. In just two days, they can kick-start negotiations that would take months to achieve through traditional channels.
Hallmark companies like Ecoinca shape the essence of LAC Flavors, a free forum for where businesspeople from across the region can take their companies to the next level by identifying new clients in markets that seemed beyond their reach and acquiring practical learning on the main areas of opportunity in their business plans.
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