SME Promotion in rural areas ("Emprende")

Smallholder farmers in northern Peru and southern Ecuador live in extreme poverty. Through division of inherited land, individual agricultural plots are becoming ever smaller so that securing livelihoods has become increasingly difficult. The limited size of agricultural plots and lack of skills in proper use of fertilizers, pest control (including organic products), and irrigation systems result in smaller yields. Moreover, best practices are lacking in pre- and post-harvest handling, and this compromises product quality. Thus, farmer incomes are inadequate, which puts pressure on mostly younger generations to migrate to urban areas.

The Project

EMPRENDE tackles the low level of productivity of small coffee, cocoa and banana farmers; the poor post harvest management with its effect on product quality and weaknesses in corporate and commercial management of producer associations as entities responsible for facilitating market research to ensure better marketing.

In rural regions poverty is fought sustainably through systemic support to SME farmers. The focus is on developing in-demand agriculture subsectors, facilitating market access for SME farmers, and improving production and quality so that they can increase yields and fetch higher prices.

The project concentrates on four core activities:

1. Farmer skills development The project provides training and continuing education in planting, adapted irrigation, pest control, fertilizers, and seed technology along with environmentally friendly production methods. This improves the quality and quantity of yields, and trained farmers can increase family incomes themselves.

2. Strengthening farmer organisations Smallholder farmers depend on well-functioning organisations for better marketing of their products. The project supports farmer organisations in management, financing, and marketing. Organisations receive support to achieve Organic/Fair Trade certification for their products.

3. Access to market information and building business linkages while replicating promising and innovative business ideas There is considerable need for establishing and nurturing solid business linkages along the value chain. The project helps significantly by linking producers with buyers (price and purchase guarantees) while providing market intelligence and new market access.

4. Support to financial institutions In the financial sector the programme works closely with SACCOs (Savings and Credit Cooperatives). First of all, the SACCOs are supported in efforts to develop financial products and services for smallholder farmers, which they then offer at fair and appropriate terms.


Achievements in 2014

Increase in competitiveness:

  • 232 cocoa producers in Ecuador have access to new markets: Agroarriba buys all the production of farmers who are part of the ongoing UTZ certification process.
  • 29 demonstration plots for integral production systems have been implemented: 17 for cocoa in Ecuador; 6 for coffee in Ecuador and 6 for cocoa in Peru.
  • 1'460 cocoa producers have fertilised around 450 hectares of cocoa in the Department of San Martín (Peru).

Access to productive infrastructure:

  • The project submitted together with UROCAL (Cocoa - Ecuador) to the Ministry of Agriculture (MAGAP) received joint financing worth USD 300'000 for the construction of a collection centre for cocoa, facilitated by Swisscontact.
  • FAPECAFES (coffee - Ecuador) received joint financing worth USD 520'000 from the Ministry of Production (MIPRO) to be spent on machinery and equipment for post-harvest treatment of coffee. This was possible thanks to support and advice from the Emprende team.

Creating a sustainable supply of goods and services:

  • 1'695 men and 350 women, all members of associations, have received training.
  • A total of 45 male and 11 female instructors and facilitators took part in the training provided and supported by Emprende.
  • 27 institutions have received support and Emprende has helped with training for 223 men and 44 women.
  • Training for trainers programme for coffee tasters involving 23 participants (6 women / 17 men).
  • 246 technicians and professionals (35 of them women) trained in land management and fertilisers for cocoa cultivation in Peru, which have been replicated to embrace a total of 1'779 cocoa producers.
  • 40 professionals and 4 companies exporting cocoa have been trained in the UTZ certification process in Peru.

Project countries

  • Ecuador

Project duration

2017 - 2020


  • SDC

Working area


Swiss Foundation for Technical Cooperation
Hardturmstrasse 123
CH-8005 Zurich

Tel. +41 44 454 17 17
Fax +41 44 454 17 97