Creating Lasting Partnerships with Farmer-to-Farmer

Michelle Chau, EDH Intern
THUMBNAIL_IMG_4910_0.jpegNichols presenting to Partners' staff

On October 30, a former Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) volunteer, Bill Nichols, visited the Partners of the Americas’ (Partners) Washington, D.C. office to offer insight on his volunteer experiences. For each of his assignments, Nichols has leveraged his expertise in business, including marketing, organizational improvement, financial management, and value chains. Nichols boasts an extensive history of volunteering, with 56 assignments over the past decade. With Partners of the Americas, Nichols has completed four volunteer assignments, supporting Makouti Agro Enterprises in Haiti, Plan Yaque in the Dominican Republic, and DIDART and Yogi Superfoods in Guatemala. During his presentation, Nichols shared with staff highlights of his past F2F assignments with Partners. Below is a summary of each.

In March 2013, Nichols assisted Makouti Agro Enterprises with Marketing and Planning. Owned and operated in Haiti, Makouti is a diversified agriculture business and marketing cooperative. The objective of this assignment was to guide business plan development for farmers and producers. After meeting with various producers and conducting business and marketing trainings, Makouti determined which of their 10 line-of-business (LOB) to prioritize. 

In June 2014, Nichols trained staff from a nonprofit in the Dominican Republic, Plan Yaque, on strategic planning. This organization works to preserve and repair the largest watershed in the Caribbean. After interviewing staff and partners and visiting the watershed and select stakeholders, Nichols helped to develop a strategic plan. This plan focused on upper watershed remediation, which would then provide benefits to the downstream. Recommendations included the encouragement of education, partnerships, and enforcement of laws related to environmental protection.

BILL NICHOLS 1.jpegNichols with Plan Yaque members

In January 2017, Nichols assisted a small Guatemalan enterprise, DIDART, in developing their Marketing Strategy. Through the manufacturing of educational kits and sourcing directly from rural artisans, DIDART teaches children about the cultural heritage of Guatemala. Nichols coached their staff on approaches to strengthen the marketing and sales program. DIDART was able to refine its business strategy to concentrate on fewer, but more impactful opportunities. Additionally, Nichols had the opportunity to participate in one of their workshops and made his own pulsera de pino (pine needle bracelet), which is stored in a safe at his home.

BILL NICHOLS 2_0.jpegNichol’s pulsera de pino

Additionally, in January 2018, Nichols assisted the enterprise Yogi Superfoods with market research. Based in Antigua, Guatemala, Yogi Superfoods offers healthy snacks that come with motivational messages to its local market. Nichols conducted market research and trained management in the implementation of more rigorous market research techniques. To focus on quality, Yogi Superfoods cut down on their number of products and made their packaging more consistent across products. Sales and profits were also more efficiently tracked with Nichol’s assistance.

As a long-time F2F volunteer, Nichols exemplifies Partners’ mission to create lasting partnerships across and within the Americas. His presentation provided an invaluable opportunity for staff to hear his experiences as a Partners volunteer.