The Adelante Foundation branch office in La Esperanza recently hosted product innovation workshops for clients in the departments of Intibuca and La Paz. Many thanks to the Inter-American Foundation for the funds which made these workshops possible. The workshops were held as part of the Adelante Foundation’s small business education program. Developing workshops on product creation and innovation is a new frontier for the education department at the head office in La Ceiba. Clients learn how to create new products or how to innovate existing ones in order to increase competitiveness and grow their businesses. The Credit Officers who manage the loan pools in Intibuca and La Paz selected the women who would participate, and these women are responsible for passing on the skills they learn to their assembly groups.
In October, clients were invited to participate in a workshop focused on producing different varieties of breads and baked goods. Most of the women who attended were already dedicated to this activity, but many were accustomed to producing only a few products, for example a few varieties of bread. Over the course of three days, clients learned how to make several types of breads, donuts, fruit pastries, and more. The Adelante Foundation’s Education Coordinator emphasizes that lack of innovation is one of the main reasons small businesses fail to grow. Now these women and their corresponding assembly groups have the knowledge to expand their product inventories and earn more profits.
The second workshop took place in November and featured pickled vegetables and fruit jams. Unlike baking, which requires specific equipment, producing jams and pickled veggies only necessitates a stove top or wood fire. Every woman has the tools in her home to produce jams and pickled veggies, so participants did not need to have past experience. The departments of Intibuca and La Paz benefit from a cooler climate that allows for the cultivation of an assortment of vegetables for pickling. Pineapple, strawberry, and guava are also accessible and ideal for jam making. Many clients grow the fruits and vegetables used in jam making and vegetable pickling, so by learning the process they can add value to existing products and sell them at a higher price.
I had the opportunity to attend the second workshop, observing and even participating myself in the production of pickled vegetables. The process involves preparing, boiling, and arranging the vegetables, which are then preserved in homemade ginger spiced vinegar. The fresh produce included cauliflower, carrots, shallots, onions, chilies and green beans. The women were trained on how to sanitize the glass jars used for pickling by disinfecting them in boiling water. Several clients already had experience pickling vegetables, but the women also learned how to innovate the product by cutting the veggies so as to make them more attractive. Arranging the vegetables decoratively also makes the product more tempting to the buyer. Take a look at the series of photos below to get a sense of the whole process pickling vegetables!
In 2012, the Adelante Foundation plans to offer more product innovation workshops on different subjects. The response from clients has been very positive, confirming that the workshops are practical. A client from Jesus de Otoro, Marta, who attended the second workshop, explains, ¨it’s great because it’s a profitable activity that everyone can do in their homes¨. Another client from the community of San Fernando adds, ¨you learn things that you did not know before, it’s very practical¨. Through these workshops, the Adelante Foundation is providing clients with the tools to generate innovative businesses that support an improved quality of life.