Every quarter, we publish an update on progress on the Technology Commercialization Grant we received as part of the Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation program. Read on to learn more about how Store It Cold is working to eliminate hunger by reducing food loss.
The past three months have been very exciting for our initiatives in Honduras and Guatemala. Through the Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation program, we’ve developed new relationships in both countries that will allow us to help many new smallholder farmers improve their operations through cold storage.
Universidad Zamorano — Educating Smallholder Farmers
If you want to study agriculture in the United States, you go to UC Davis. In Latin America, you go to Universidad Zamorano.
Zamorano frequently holds workshops for students and local farmers to introduce them to innovative technologies that will help them improve the output of their farm. This quarter, we started participating in these workshops to educate attendees about the CoolBot. We’ve participated in two workshops so far, and we look forward to continuing to expanding our relationship with the university and with current and future farmers.
Walmart — Encouraging Improved Cold Chain Logistics
We’ve also cemented our relationship with Walmart and their produce purchasing arm, Hortifruti. The company relies heavily on small and medium-sized farms to supply their fruits and vegetables, and they’ve started recommending that these suppliers work with us to improve their cold chain logistics from field to export.
Cold storage helps farmers boost the quality of their produce so that Walmart can purchase a larger percentage of their harvest. This benefits the farmers by raising their earnings and also helps keep grocery prices down.
Banrural — Making Financing Available
Finally, even if farmers understand the benefits of cold storage, they still face the challenge of being able to afford it.
To help farmers in Honduras meet this challenge, we established an agreement with local bank Banrural to offer financing so farmers can build their own walk-in cooler. This represents a big step forward in our ability to make CoolBot technology available to more local businesses. Banrural has become an instrumental partner in helping us reach our audience. They’ve allowed us to create co-branded marketing materials and have even invited members of our team to speak with their customers in the agriculture industry.
While our agreement currently covers only Honduras, we’re hopeful that in the future we’ll be able to establish a similar partnership in Guatemala.
Industrias Servin — Distributing CoolBots and Building Cold Rooms
We’re excited to announce our first distribution agreement in Guatemala, with local refrigeration expert Industrias Servin. Their team will be selling CoolBots, as well as assisting farmers with installation and cold room construction.
Expo AgroVision — Demonstrating CoolBot Technology
A lot of people are skeptical that the CoolBot and a standard air conditioner can really cool a room down to 34°F (1°C). We understand — it does seem pretty out there!
But, seeing is believing! That’s why we built a mobile cooler that we can take around to trade shows to demonstrate that the technology lives up to the hype. Most recently, we participated in Guatemala’s first Expo AgroVision, a trade show whose mission is to “democratize access to top-level technical knowledge” among agricultural suppliers.
Fundación Genesis Empresarial — Providing Financing
Like in Honduras, farmers in Guatemala have limited access to financing to implement new technologies. So, we’ve partnered with Fundación Genesis Empresarial, a private economic and social development organization that provides tools to local entrepreneurs seeking a better quality of life. The foundation will provide financing to help smallholder farmers looking to implement CoolBot refrigeration technology.
Welcoming new team members
Finally, we’re thrilled to welcome two new members to our Guatemalan team!
- Antonio Castillo — Country Manager. Antonio has over 10 years of experience coordinating and executing commercial sales and marketing plans for a variety of multinational agricultural companies and their brands throughout Central and South America, including in Guatemala.
- Juan Vasquez — Sales Representative. Juan has more than 5 years of experience working for Hortifruit, specifically developing relationships and supply chains with farmers in Guatemala and surrounding Central American countries.
As you can see, it’s been an amazing few months! We’re looking forward to a strong end to the year, so check back in December for our next quarterly update.