My partner, Jennifer Rangel and I are graduate students at Florida State University. Jennifer is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Media and Communication Studies and I am pursuing a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communication. We both have a passion for travel and helping others so we were thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the Farmer-to-Farmer program in Guatemala this summer.The Farmer-to-Farmer Program is implemented by Partners of the Americas and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
We worked with Grupo Union Esperanza, an organization of 30 women who sell all-natural peanut and peanut butter products. They are located in the community of Santa Ana Huista in Huehuetenango, Guatemala.
The group formed in 1998 when five women wanted to improve their economic situation and the lives of their families by developing a business that could provide for them. In 2000, they began to process fried, sweet and salty peanuts. In 2006, they began to produce peanut butter. Now in 2015, the group is making spicy peanuts as well.
Our task was to create an integrated marketing plan to help raise brand awareness for Grupo Union Esperanza and ultimately help the women to make a profit off their products. We wanted to emphasize the all-natural attribute of the products and the values of the organization through their branding. The plan included rebranding of the logo and development of a tagline. In addition, the plan included techniques they could use for sales promotions, personal selling, business cards, business-to-business brochures, and development of a website.
Based on extensive research done in order to understand the country and the available resources in Santa Ana Huista, we found that personal selling would be essential to the marketing plan. We recommended that Grupo Union Esperanza approach various stores in the area of Huehuetenango and provide businesses with an informational brochure and sample in order to establish relationships with vendors. Throughout our two weeks here, we better understood the market, established a brand image including a mission statement, and educated the group on personal selling and B2B networking. We also created a website for the women to share product varieties, recipes and contact information.
For the first week, we worked with the non-profit currently supporting the women, ASDECOHUE- CSEM, learning more about this organization and what it does to assist women in developing business management skills. We then visited stands and stores that already had Grupo Union Esperanza’s peanuts in stock and were able to ask which of their variety was the most popular and if among other brands of peanuts was Grupo Union Esperanza’s doing well in comparison. During the second week, we met the women of Grupo Union Esperanza at the non-profit and presented the marketing plan to them. Jennifer was able to teach them how to seal their new jars for their peanuts using a hot air gun. They were also taught how to properly set up a presentation for events such as town fairs.
While working, we also got to experience Guatemalan culture, including delicious food and amazing views of the mountainous landscape. We spent our first night in Antigua upon flying into Guatemala City, where we got to meet one of our F2F hosts, Andrea. She gave us a tour of the beautiful town and talked to us about living in Guatemala. The next day we drove five hours to Huehuetenango with our other wonderful F2F host, Abraham. At the conclusion of our trip, we enjoyed a couple of days back in Antigua before heading back to the United States.
Overall, this experience opened our eyes to a fascinating different culture.
We experienced first hand the challenges that the people of Guatemala face when trying to market a brand and create a lucrative business. With that being said, we felt humbled by the business aspirations of these women and honored to be a part of making their dream a reality.