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In 2002, Coronilla received $400 000 from the SEAF investment fund. This contribution, in debt and capital has enabled Coronilla to convert itself into a stock corporation and to develop its exports. In 2004, Coronilla has bought back its shares to SEAF.

Small Enterprise Assistance Fund (SEAF) is an investment fund based in Washington DC. It focuses on small and medium enterprises with high growth potential in developing countries by providing them with capital, technical and operational support.

SEAF positions itself as a sustainable and professional institution caring for the return of its shareholders. In addition to the financial return, SEAF wants to contribute to the economic and social development of developing countries. It uses its capital, its know-how and its global network to accelerate the growth and the sustainability of its investees with the central objective of allowing them to generate profit that beneficiates to local communities.

SEAF is structured in local teams that are present in markets that generally seem unattractive to traditional investors (they have recently opened a local office in Afghanistan). In addition to providing capital, SEAF offers technical and operational support to its companies helping them professionalising and improving their organisational structure. In the case of Coronilla, SEAF assisted Martha Wille in converting the family business into a stock corporation. Moreover, working with local teams and paying attention to the national culture is an essential element of the SEAF fund.

SEAF has invested more than $260m in more than 30 countries mainly in Asia, Europe and Latin America. Up to now, the fund has made more than 150 investments generating an average added value 1.7 times higher than the amount initially invested.

SEAF considers that investing in SMEs is a promising tool to dynamise growth in developing countries and to fight poverty. It focuses on companies having a positive impact socially and environmentally and exclude investments linked to tobacco, alcohol, weapons and other activities generating speculation or having a negative impact on society.

SEAF mostly invests using capital and debt. It pays a strong attention to the liquidity of its investments developing exit rights rigorously defined . It also favours a flexible approach to answer adequately the specifics of each enterprise.

The impact of SEAF is considerable on the financial and social aspects. It has been proved that each dollar invested by SEAF generates on average 12 dollars in the local economy. Its investments positively influence many stakeholders including employees, suppliers, consumers and the society as a whole.

The average financial return of SEAF’s investments is 21%. It is worth mentioning that the global return (Economic Rate of Return) rises to 66% if we include the social factors and the global impact on society.

SEAF is financed mainly through institutional investors (World Bank, European Bank for Development, Belgian Investment office, etc) willing to invest on a sustainable way.

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Coronilla: The video report!

June 28, 2009 | Comments Off | Enterprises, Videos

Coronilla is a company based in Cochabamba, Bolivia, that produces gluten-free pastas and snacks. Coronilla’s objective is to have a positive impact on all the actors of its value chain. Therefore it buys its raw materials at a fair price to local suppliers, its workforce is composed of 75% of women with 10% with  of the employees that are disabled and it offers optimal working conditions. Discover the interview of Martha Wille, the entrepreneur that insufflated her social fibre to Coronilla.

For more information, read Coronilla’s profile

Fair Street - Coronilla from Angalio Productions on Vimeo.

After the fascinating discovery of the solar cookers, Fair Street made a second reporting in Cochabamba, Bolivia. We had indeed the chance to meet Martha Wille who manages Coronilla, a family business created more than 40 years ago. Through her actions, Martha made of Coronilla the perfect example of a company that beneficiates to all the actors of its value chain.

Problematic and context:

Coronilla addresses problematic that are directly linked to the political and social situation of Bolivia. Even if a progressive opening to market economy has improved the economic situation of the country, Bolivia remains today the poorest country in South America with strong inequalities between urban areas where 60% of the population is poor and rural areas where this figure rises to 80%.

The bad living conditions of the Amerindians (60% of the total population) is one of the main issues in Bolivia. Evo Morales’ accession to power triggered a lot of hope among this segment of the Bolivian population. Nevertheless, many still live in precarious conditions. As homeland for the majority of the Indian population, the Bolivian Altiplano, region of high plateau at heights of more than 3000 meters is particularly poor. There, people essentially live from agriculture, first sector of activity of the country, and earn unstable and little wages.

If it is the case of many poor countries, the situation of women in Bolivia is particularly worrying. In the 90s’, this problem was even considered as one of the plagues of the country. A study made in 1994 showed that close to 70% of the women endured domestic violence. Today, Bolivian women still suffer important discrimination compared to men. With their main task being house caring, they have a limited economic power and are therefore strongly depending on their husband. This isolation, combined to wife-beating prevents women from taking part to the development as they are too busy defending themselves.

At the root of the women marginalisation stands their low level of instruction that reduces their emancipation possibilities.

Fortunately, in the last 10 years, the situation of women has become a central preoccupation in Bolivia and many initiatives and laws that aim at improving their situation have appeared but a lot still needs to be made.

The company:

Founded in 1972 by Guillermo Wille, Coronilla has been a pasta producing company from its beginning. In the mid-90s’, the export market strongly contracted, putting the enterprise close to bankruptcy. Martha Wille, daughter of Guillermo Wille redynamised the company by diversifying the product range. If Guillermo Wille already paid attention to the well being of its employees, it is with Wartha that the second life of Coronilla as a social enterprise really started. Today, the company produces pastas and snacks mixing quinoa and a traditional andine cereal that makes them gluten-free.

Coronilla wants to fight poverty by having a positive impact throughout its value chain. As CSR (Corporate Social Responsability) is a relatively unknown concept in South America (even less in Bolivia), Coronilla wants to be a pioneer. In its buyings, the enterprise purchases its ingredients (quinoa, rice…) directly to destitute local producers, negotiates in their own language (Quechua or Aymara) and offers them price stability.

The employees also have a very important place in the company’s strategy. 75% of the employees are women and 10% are disabled. The working conditions are optimal in terms of hygiene and security and the enterprise provides its employees with the possibility to study or to follow complementary training. Finally, Coronilla offers support to the working families so they can put their children at school.

As there is very little demand for organic food in Bolivia, Coronilla only focuses on exportation. Today, the company exports to 11 countries in North America, Europe and Oceania.

The entrepreneur:

Daughter of Guillermo Wille, Coronilla’s founder, Martha Wille was influenced by the social convictions of his father and incorporated them to the family business. As manager of the family business and being extremely attentive to the well-being of its employees, Martha wants all the employees to feel part of the Coronilla family.

After being elected social entrepreneur of the year 2005 by the Schwab foundation, Martha was invited to participate to the World Economic Forum in Davos where she met many other social entrepreneurs. As a follow-up to the exchange of ideas taking place there, Martha’s next challenge is to launch a foundation « the Guillermo Wille Foundation » that will work on the to replication of Coronilla’s model by giving advice to Bolivian companies and encouraging them to adopt CSR policies.

Social impact:

Buying its ingredients to local producers following Fair Trade principles, Coronilla provides a stable source of revenues to 1500 families allowing them to maintain a certain life standard.

As Martha told us during the interview, by providing a respectful and blossoming work environment, the company wants to have a positive impact on the lives of its 65 employees. After the production manager noticed that an employee had developed a skill at resolving the problems that occurred on the production chain, the company encouraged her to attend a two year engineering program. Today, this employee enjoys a much higher wage that allowed her to provide her children with higher quality education.

The economic autonomy aquired by women working at Coronilla facilitates their emancipation.

Financial impact:

Since 1997, two organisations have contributed to Coronilla’s development

The first, SEAF (Small Enterprise Assistance Fund), has invested $400 000 (mix of capital and debt) through its fund « fondo Capital Activo de Bolivia », to finance its needs in working capital. More than the supply of capital, SEAF support helped Coronilla in improving its accounting practices and in transforming into a stock corporation. SEAF essentially professionalised the company. Coronilla bought back SEAF’s shares in 2004.

After SEAF’s help, Coronilla still only used 20% of its production capacity in 2004 and the enterprise needed capital to keep growing. Back then, Coronilla obtained a loan of €350 000 from the Dutch organisation Cordaid. This loan allowed Coronilla to double its exports within the same year. Today, Coronilla’s exports are close to $1 000 000 using 50% of the productive capacity. If the company has met a high growth in the last 5 years, it still enjoys important growth potential that should enable it to spread its fixed costs better and increase its margins.

By continuing to create value for all its stakeholders (producers, employees, shareholders and clients) Martha Wille is convinced that Coronilla is meant to be a major company in Bolivia.