A Sustainable Change in the Food System

MIKUNA

2. Zero Hunger 3. Good Health and Well-Being 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

Mikuna produces and commercializes non-perishable natural (lasts up to 5 months) cereal bars without any chemical additives and preservatives, which contributes to a healthy diet. Also production and commercialization are very efficient. All waste generation is significantly reduced. Finally, they are economically affordable by any social group.

This innovation is defined by three aspects as described below:

  • Production of the only natural cereal bar without additives and preservatives in Argentina.
  • Development of organic suppliers through training and financial support.
  • Respect for local and natural heritage.

This innovation contributes to the SDG 12 of Responsible Consumption and Production, not only for the development of agroecological production systems, but also for the efficient use of the resources within production and commercialization. It can also be a contributor for SDG 2, helping with reducing world hunger, since it promotes local production practices at reasonable costs and affordable prices; and SDG 3 for promoting a healthy life. Futhermore, this entrepreneurship contributes also to SDG 11, since it was thought from the very beginning to be placed in a marginalized community in order to make it flourish.

Authors

Silvana Torres

Silvana Torres

Eduardo Sebastián Martínez Gazzolo

Eduardo Sebastián Martínez Gazzolo

Joaquin Ingouville

Joaquin Ingouville

School

Pontificia Universidad Catolica Argentina

Pontificia Universidad Catolica Argentina

Professor

Aleandra Scafati

Aleandra Scafati

Innovation

The innovation can be described by:

  • The product: Through the development of this cereal bar without additives and preservatives, Mikuna tries to make a change regarding the nutrition of all social sectors and to promote responsible consumption for a healthier life. The use of no additives and preservatives contributes to a healthy diet, and it implies an unprecedented alternative in Argentina, since it is the first one in the market. Encouraging a diet low in animal-based products through a cereal bar, which is attractive and nutritious for children, is also a way to promote habit changes in the diet. Besides, its affordable cost makes it a real choice for everyone. Lastly, as it is a non-perishable product, it has no risk of becoming waste easily.
  • The suppliers: Mikuna promotes sustainable activity among its suppliers through education. Since it is a 100% vegetable product, the provision of the cereal bar promotes an efficient and intensive usage of the soil. This allows it to preserve and revive natural ecosystems recovering biodiversity and promoting carbon sequestration to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The company trains its suppliers in Mikuna´s Finca in Orán, which is a training centre where innovative methods for the organic and natural production are investigated, experimented with and shared with them. Also Mikuna facilitates government funding for small producers to its farmers.
  • The location: The geographic location of the company is also an environmental and sustainable issue for local economic development. This business was set up as a productive unit in an inhospitable region in the Province of Jujuy, Argentina, in Palpalá, located at 15 km from San Salvador de Jujuy, a poor economic and deindustrialized region. Therefore the location has serious complications regarding logistics and resources provision. However, its creators were committed to turning obstacles into opportunities and changing a discouraging paradigm by installing their business project in that area.

A Sustainable Change in the Food System

Inspiration

The project came to life when Ignacio Mayorga, an agronomist with experience in the food industry in Argentina, USA and China, had his first son Camilo. Ignacio was concerned about the food available in the market for his newborn son. "All the food in the market was saturated with chemical additives, so I had this dream, to create a simple food that can be nutritious, tasty, affordable and healthy for everyone and easy to produce and commercialize while promoting the local development in disadvantaged communities."

"My journey started, first by asking my brother, Agustín, a business graduate with a successful career in Human Resources, to join me, who did not hesitate to sign into my shared vision: to build a better, more sustainable and healthy world through the food."

Mikuna’s genesis occurred with the opening of a restaurant in the city of San Salvador de Jujuy; the first to sell organic products in that area. The restaurant has accrued a number of faithful patrons over the years but more importantly, it has sparked general interest for organic production in the city. The restaurant was followed by a factory, which started a cereal bar production line, and later the Finca, where future innovations in sustainable farming are nurtured, transmitted and shared.

Overall impact

Mikuna stands out for promoting and fostering the concept of sustainable triple impact development within the food system. Considering its social and environmental action, without neglecting its economic aspect, it exemplifies the paradigmatic shift towards ventures in which sustainability is not an intermittent campaign but a transversal value to its actions.

From the production of a plant-based nutritious food, to the use of a network that innovatively integrates the different actors of the productive system for organic production, it is an example of entrepreneurship that empowers the regional economy and in turn, is the main beneficiary of the positive impact it generates on it.

It empowers small and medium producers, through the application of fair commercial principles, ethical values and co-participatory sustainable development. It simultaneously promotes the employability of relegated demographic groups and attends to the care of the soil and its nutrients, generating changes in the food, taking care of the environment and favoring vulnerable groups. It is undoubtedly an agent of change in the search for a more sustainable and equal development in our society.

It promotes the intensification of the local production, by purchasing from local suppliers the seeds, the cereals and the honey. Mikuna’s location in Jujuy strengthens a regional economy and it has become an incentive to remain or migrate to this area.

Its production and commercialization chain involves approximately 440 people directly or indirectly. 20 employees work in production; 60 suppliers; 54 farmers; and 300 children (between the ages of 4 and 14 years old) are benefited from a soup kitchen.

Business benefit

Mikuna was born as an innovation and its business plan aims to establish the company in the healthy cereal bar market globally.

This strategic vision has allowed the company to grow exponentially from 3,000 to 40,000 cereal bars a month over the course of six months. If they continue as expected, the company aims to end 2019 with ARS 7,000,000 (USD 110,000) in billings doubling that number for 2020. This exponential growth demonstrates the increasing demand for this type of products from a more healthy, environmental and social responsible consumer.

Social and environmental benefit

From the social point of view, Mikuna is an agent of positive change that integrates a sector of the community which is extremely marginalized and offers local employment opportunities.

Employability: Mikuna sought for a positive social change when hiring employees for its factory in Palpalá. One of the most inclusive policies defined by Mikuna is that it would only hire people aged 45 and over for its factory. This provoked a win-win effect. Mikuna learned from these people experience and these people, normally displaced and struggling for labor opportunities, got quality employment.

Integration: the existence of Mikuna brought stakeholders in the value chain closer together: from farmers, their families and communities to distributors and outlets. In a region where indigenous rural settlements tend to be marginalized, Mikuna has brought them closer together into the community. The integration of family farming units to the global market is fundamental for the sustainable use of resources, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO-UN) and the International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD-UN).

Education: the Finca allows Mikuna to share its know-how in organic production with local farmers and the community. This allows for organic production models to be replicated and multiplied across the region, empowering the productive sector with greater capabilities, Fair Trade values and safeguarding the suppliers of the cereal bar ingredients.

From the environmental point of view, Mikuna's vision helps with reducing deforestation and reducing the use of agrochemicals and the inefficient use of resources. Mikuna offers a financially sound business alternative to the current production model in Argentina. The use of agroecological best practices at a major scale has various benefits, since it protects the soil and ensures good yields in a sustainable way, and also it is more labour intensive, which means that more employment for local communities can be generated.

Interview

Agustín Mayorga, Owner

Photo of interviewee

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MIKUNA

MIKUNA

Palpalá, Jujuy, AR

Business Website: https://www.mikuna.com.ar

Year Founded: 2015

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

Mikuna is an entrepreneurship which emerged as a consequence of taking notice of how harmful it is, for human health, to consume food elaborated with excessive chemicals and preservatives.

It was born in 2015 in the northwest of Argentina, in the city of Palpalá, Province of Jujuy, at the hands of two brothers: Agustín and Ignacio Mayorga.

Mikuna is a triple impact business whose mission is to promote and expand the production and consumption of organic and natural products through an innovative and inclusive network which integrates the several parts contained in the productive-commercial system.

This entrepreneurship consists of three self-sufficient units, which are strategically related in order to develop the business. First, the industrial unit is focused on the production and sale of the cereal bars from the factory in Palpalá, Jujuy. Secondly, the gastronomic unit which, with an organic products bar in San Salvador de Jujuy, offers visibility and exposure of the trademark, besides being a source of income. And lastly, the agricultural training unit in which people dedicated to agroecological and organic production investigate and train suppliers and employees.