Colombian family-restaurant business improves living standards for smallholder farmers of cuarentano beans while also protecting the environment.

By Business Call to Action (BCtA)

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Colombian restaurant chain Crepes & Waffles has joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a pledge to sustainably improve the income of 100 smallholder farmers in the Montes de Maria region of Colombia by 2020. Additionally, Crepes & Waffles will regenerate large areas of the country’s dry forest by creating better conditions for water conservation, contributing to farm resilience and food security.

Launched in 2008, BCtA aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that engage people with less than US$10 per day in purchasing power (in 2015 dollars) as consumers, producers, suppliers and distributors. It is supported by several partners and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Local farming communities of the Montes de Maria region in Colombia have been displaced by a recent history of armed conflict over land issues. People have lost their economic livelihoods, homes, cultural traditions and connection to the rural area. The Colombian tropical dry forest surrounding these communities is also critically endangered, threatening the future of local agriculture.

Photo: Local farmers in Colombia

Crepes & Waffles, a Colombian family restaurant business established in Bogota in 1980, offers their customers healthy and affordable meals. The company joined BCtA with an inclusive business model that generates economic opportunity for smallholder farmers by directly and fairly purchasing cuarentano dry beans for Crepes & Waffles restaurants.

The agreement between the business and smallholder producers boosts the economic viability of cuarentano dry bean farming by securing a continued stream of revenue for farmers and a stable price for the beans. It has also created demand for dried beans. Demand at local markets is usually only for green, ripe beans, creating a limited window of opportunity for cuarentano dry bean farmers to sell their produce. Because Crepes & Waffles allows producers to store and dry the beans for later purchase, producers can better manage supply, there is less pressure to sell the beans immediately and a sustainable, ongoing income is secured.

“As a business, we have always been committed to social impact, while also making affordable and nutritious food for our customers. With our zero-discrimination approach to employment, we have long helped women achieve economic independence, especially single mothers. We are excited to begin a new phase of inclusive business practices, to help lift living standards for Colombian farmers and protect our environment,” said Crepes & Waffles CEO Rodrigo Cabrera.

Through their BCtA commitments, Crepes & Waffles promotes organic farming practices and supports farmers with new agricultural technologies to further advance their productivity and earning potential. Through sustainable cuarentano dry bean production and purchase, Crepes & Waffles aims to increase the income of 100 smallholder farmers by at least 10 per cent. The business model will also create five additional jobs within the restaurant business, three of which will be filled by women. By 2020, the restaurant chain has pledged to diversify its purchases in the region by buying at least three new local products.

Photo: Crepes & Waffles offers local cuarentano beans (frijol rojo cuarentano)

To strengthen climate resilience and food security into the future, Crepes & Waffles has also committed to regenerating 30 square kilometers of local forest for the benefit local biodiversity and nearby farms, creating better environmental and water conservation conditions.

“This is a unique inclusive business model that targets important social and environmental issues in Montes de Maria yet sets a great example for private businesses anywhere. Crepes & Waffles everyday business and employment practices, seek to create real economic improvement for vulnerable groups,” said BCtA Programme Manager Paula Pelaez.

This article was originally published on the Business Call to Action website and was contributed to International Food Trader. Be sure to follow other BCtA news articles and highlights on their website and social media.
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About Business Call to Action (BCtA): Launched at the United Nations in 2008, BCtA aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that offer the potential for both commercial success and development impact. BCtA is a unique multilateral alliance between key donor governments including the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, UK Department for International Development, US Agency for International Development, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland, and the United Nations Development Programme — which hosts the secretariat. For more information, please visit www.businesscalltoaction.org or on Twitter at @BCtAInitiative.
About Crepes & Waffles: Crepes & Waffles is a Colombian family restaurant business established in Bogota in 1980 and makes healthy, affordable meals. The company has expanded over the years and now has 15 eateries across Latin America and one in Spain. The company has always championed an inclusive employment policy, which is reflected in a workforce made up of 87 per cent women who hold roles from senior management to chefs. Along with a starting salary that is around 10 percent higher than the minimum wage, staff are entitled to private healthcare after a year with the company, and access to low-interest loans and savings schemes.

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