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Cooltivando: A youth-led initiative that empowers rural families

Cooltivando was founded in 2019, in the metropolitan region of Curitiba (South Brazil).

It supports small-holder, family farmers in the management of their produce. The first digital product we launched for validation was the so-called “Field Notebook” (Caderno de Campo, in Portuguese), a digital tool that aimed to support producers to record and keep track of all actions related to food production. However, the tool trials showed us that the producers found it a little difficult to operate. Therefore, we decided to reach out to them and hear more about their needs and understand what we could develop to make their lives in the field more comfortable and better.

After extensive field research, we have concluded that our region’s family farmers’ biggest struggle was access to markets. Hence, since then, we in Cooltivando have focused our entire team’s efforts on tackling that issue. We thus developed different ways and methodologies to facilitate direct sales to individual consumers and organizations, empowering farmers as the real protagonists of the selling process. In this context, in 2019, we kick-started a project to facilitate the direct sales of produce to hospitals.

Beyond amplifying market access, which we soon realized was not enough to guarantee local farms’ financial sustainability, we have also been steering our attention towards better understanding how to support small-holder farmers by promoting self-sufficiency, income generation, and sound production management.

In 2019, we were also accepted into the Fundação Econômica VIVO’s business incubator programme (Spain), through which we applied for funding and raised over BRL 20,000.00 in investments towards field research and product development. Thanks to that, we developed Cooltivando’s digital inclusion methodology (encompassing training and tools). We understand that new digital tools and training enable rural communities to manage their production in a more independent, efficient way.

We entered 2020 with high expectations of delivering our trainings to many rural communities. The trainings are designed to be a fundamental capacity-building step prior to delivering our digital marketing and management tools to communities. However, the COVID-19 pandemic had a great impact on our planning, with the limitation of gatherings and steep increase in demand for our digital tools, which forced us to speed up the delivery process. Our offering differs slightly from what competitors provide as regards pricing because we do not charge an outright registration or purchase fee (only a monthly subscription). This allows farmers to have more autonomy in their commercial activities, and a more holistic overview of final earnings, costs, and investments.

This year, we launched the first platform in the municipality of Agudos do Sul (Paraná, South Brazil). Through the platform, around 34 rural families can commercialize their produce. This system has been active for two months, with an estimated 30 orders per week, generating over BRL 5,000 of income every week. The farmers take care of the orders, production, and delivery, whereas Cooltivando provides all the necessary support regarding communication and digital marketing to reach new consumers and markets.

The original post was written in Portuguese and translated by YPARD Brazil.