Latin America and the Caribbean





Main Themes

Rural microenterprise management, Rural Organization


IFAD, FORD Foundation, SENA

Learning Territory: Rural business development

Associativity and organizational networks to promote inclusion

On the impetuous southern Colombian Andes there is the department of Nariño, where rural microentrepreneurs have bet on associativity as a successful strategy for economic development and social inclusion, becoming facilitators of local and regional progress.

The experiences of these associations present an accumulated knowledge about the associative development, which is reflected in the construction and consolidation of organizational networks, through which they improved their participation in value chains for sectors related to their products and services offers (coffee, brown sugar, textiles, etc.). Thus, these networks allow joint action of microenterprises to articulate in the market and improve their competitive advantages, overcoming restrictions usually associated with limited ability to increase their production volumes and quality standards compliance. So, networking have increased negotiating power and have even favored the recognition of the microentrepreneurial character of rural associativity to establish fair market conditions.

This initiative, called Rural Micro Enterprise Associative System (SAMER), has been driven by 108 micro-enterprise initiatives, organized in 9 networks, which are being supported by the International Centre for Cleaner Production (LOPE) from the Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje – SENA Regional Nariño. Because of its success, this initiative has been structured in a Learning Territory, which identifies concrete and effective solutions that help microenterprises to connect in a more sustainable way with product markets.

Learning Territory implemented in 3 complete training sessions

In 6 months, 57 people have been trained in this new Learning Territory

15 Local Champions have strengthened their capabilities and participated as Learning Territories trainers

30,000 USD income from services providing to Learning Territories program

108 rural microenterprises, articulated in 9 organizational networks

Networks have generated 1.000 jobs and annual sales for 800,000 USD


What successful solutions have the Learning Territory’s Organizational Networks implemented?

Comprised of 12 rural microenterprises dedicated to the transformation of textiles, it allows members to successfully face their products marketing and trading processes. The Manos Unidas Association, located in the municipality of Consacá, is dedicated to making uniforms and is one of those companies. It was selected to be part of the Territory due to the success of its associativity efforts, which has been reflected in increased levels of quality and competitiveness of its products. This has allowed it to sign contracts with industrial companies in the region, improve business sustainability and increase the income of its members.

  • Network conformed by 12 rural microenterprises.
  • Manos Unidas has successfully participated in several fashion shows and business meetings, while establishing important contracts with companies in the region.

Counting with 10 rural microenterprises producing specialty coffee and high quality coffee, this organizational network has achieved the establishment of public-private partnerships, through which it has commercially linked with national and international companies, buyers of this type of coffee. The Nuragro Coffe Association, located in the municipality of San Lorenzo, is part of the network and represents it in the Learning Territory, as its trajectory evidences a development process in which seeking differentiation and added value on its products has always prevailed through recovery and implementation of pollution free and environmentally friendly traditional farming practices.

  • Network conformed by 10 rural microenterprises, has achieved to commercially link with 8 US companies.
  • Nuragro coffee commercializes more than 3,000 kilos of special coffee annually

Consisting on 7 panelera cane and powdered panela (derived from sugar cane) producing microenterprises, this organizational network has opened many local market niches, where it sells its products. The 20 de Julio Association, through an important business partnership process and the resource management support from various institutions, has managed to implement a community mill for processing raw material. Thanks to this infrastructure, it has created a real opportunity to generate income for the community.

  • Network conformed by 7 rural microenterprises.
  • The 20 de Julio Association monthly produces 40 tons of panela, generating direct employment to 34 families, and indirectly to 72.


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