News | Basics Needs & Social Entrepreneurship 02.04.2012

A good education – the foundation for sustainable rural development in Colombia

In the east of the Antioquia department in Colombia, the Siemens Stiftung is involved in the "Fruqueña" project. The project is being coordinated by the Fundación El Cinco and aims to strengthen families and village communities both economically and socially. It currently covers 600 fruit growers and their families in 13 communities, who have suffered for decades under the latent civil war and the alternating presence of guerilla and paramilitary groups. For the Siemens Stiftung the emphasis of its involvement is on educating the younger generation. To this end it is financing the setup and running of the "Escuela hortofrutícola Fruqueña". The first intake just successfully completed its two-year training in March 2012.

At an official ceremony in the auditorium of the San Nicholás business center near Medellin, attended by more than 150 guests, 47 agricultural engineers and 19 farm managers received their certificates. Among the speakers were Liliana Gaitán Pérez, Director of the Fundación El Cinco, the initiator of the "Fruqueña" project, Sergio Velázquez Fernández from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of the government of the Antioquia province, and Ulrike Wahl, Managing Director of the Siemens Stiftung.

"The integrated project approach, "Modelo de Solidaridad Productiva", of the Fundación El Cinco provides a realistic and attractive option for the future for the next generation and lays the foundation for sustainable development in rural areas," said Ulrike Wahl in her statement at the event. "The cooperation model between private and public partners – Public Private Partnership (PPP) – can very easily be applied to other regions and countries." The Antioquia government is also supporting this project approach in order to effectively strengthen the regional economic and social structures.
At the Technical College for Fruit Growing and Horticulture young people are trained to become young agricultural entrepreneurs and agricultural consultants. The course program is certified by the Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje (SENA) and imparts agricultural knowledge for modern, environmentally compatible cultivation methods in fruit growing, organizational skills, marketing know-how and commercial expertise to open up attractive career paths and promising prospects for the young people as agricultural entrepreneurs and consultants in the region.

Alongside the technical know-how, the course also covers social skills such as community work. The young people have set themselves a special challenge of setting up a self-supporting social enterprise which provides consulting services for agriculture in the region. With the foundation of the "Asociación LIDERA" the young people have taken the first step toward tackling this difficult task. The young people's enterprise will be continued, with the ongoing support of the Fundación el Cinco, primarily in the areas of strategy, design, logistics and implementation of marketing plans.