AGROCOEX - Companía Agropromotora del Cotopaxi
The owners of AGROCOEX are motivated to support women, indigenous people and people with disabilities, believing those groups are at the greatest disadvantage during times of social and economic difficulty. As such, AGROCOEX decided to confront these socio-economic issues within their own community by creating objectives that align with the ideals of social justice and Fair Trade.
As a company, AGROCOEX strives to create a safe and just working environment by working to increase the levels of education and well-being of workers, children and community members of its farms. One of the farm’s main governing principles is to foster a standard of living that promotes dignified living conditions for workers.
In 1998, AGROCOEX became Fair Trade Certified in order to establish prices that would cover the cost of sustainable production and fair wages. The workers enjoy participating in Fair Trade because Fair Trade premiums help them invest in projects and programs that they believe better their standard of living. AGROCOEX’s workers collectively decide the use of the community development premiums through a democratic and transparent manner during annual “premium committee” meetings.
From the management’s perspective, Fair Trade is attractive because consumers can buy products that agree with their values and principles. By buying Fair Trade Roses from AGROCOEX, consumers support the workers that fight to better their lives.
One of the problems that affect the majority of the people in our town is cavities, which people do not bother with or notice until they are in pain and have to get the tooth pulled. People are affected because they not only lose teeth, but also they get headaches and pain – it is uncomfortable and also causes low self-esteem. With our premium funded dentistry center, our families and the community can access a dentist with the best equipment – all at their workplace! ”
Amparito Chancusig, post harvest worker AGROCOEX
During all these years working for AGOCOEX, I have been able to develop as a woman, a mother, a wife, and a collaborator and integral part of the community. Thanks to the Fair Trade premium, I have had access to many benefits for myself, for my family, and for the members of my community. One of the benefits I have had access to is the micro loan program. To access this loan I only had to meet the established requirements. If I had gone to a bank, this loan would not have been possible because of the high interest rates and, because of my limited income; I am not allowed a line of credit at the bank. With the money I received from the Community Development Plan, I was able to install ceramic floor tiles in my house where there had previously been only dirt floors. I was also able to construct a study room for my son where he could successfully complete homework and study comfortably without having to share a room. The Fair Trade premium has touched my life and has changed and improved my family’s life. The standard of living for my family is now better. My son can now enjoy privacy and has an appropriate place to study and will be able to achieve great success in his education. Thank you, Fair Trade clients for alleviating poverty and allowing us to dream of better futures for our children ”
My parents, because of their precarious economic situation, were not able to support my education. Thanks to the student scholarship I was able to secure financing for my education. With much effort and always thinking about how I was an example for my peers and for my family, I was able to graduate with high honors. Today, I feel more secure, my self esteem has increased, and I am going to continue my studies at university to gain a professional title and secure my future. ”
Washing Machines Help Empower Women
AGROCOEX recognizes that women who realize their full potential are the key to achieving a higher standard of living. The organization helps provide women in the community with the tools and means to increase their independence. The importance of the participation of women in the development process of their families and the community is recognized and emphasized in various AGROCOEX forums. The Washing Machine Program gives women in the community access to semi-industrial washers and dryers in order to eliminate the old practice of washing clothing in natural water springs, which negatively impacted women’s health and also polluted the environment with water contamination. This is one of the programs started in order to give women more independence, allow them to optimize their time, and allow them to use their free time on activities that improve their lives.
New Dentistry Center
Fair Trade premiums funded a dentistry center to create greater access to health services for Fair Trade workers. The dentistry center was completely planned, funded, and implemented by a worker’s committee set up to oversee usage of community development funds earned through Fair Trade sales.
Music for the Children
A new program was started by AGROCOEX to allow children to learn how to play musical instruments. Learning how to play music is seen as a way to help children develop psychologically as well as a way to teach children discipline and dedication. The members of AGROCOEX believe music can have a positive impact on the community by changing attitudes and changing the way people think and express themselves. The music program has given the children in the community enthusiasm for learning as well as a new way to express themselves.