The business locally sources chickpeas from small-scale Guatemalan farmers which provides them with stable income directly promoting SDG 1 where they reduce poverty and help put an end to emigration of these farmers. Chickpea production also provides more nutrients to consumers than Guatemala's primary crop—corn, enabling them to battle Guatemala's problem of malnutrition.
Universidad de Navarra
Isabel Rodriguez Tejedo
As an “innovation hub”, co-founder Rodrigo Lopez describes Yummus Foods as “a business that brings deliciously healthy products to the market with a responsible supply chain focused on research and development”. Yummus Foods pioneers as the “first company in Guatemala to formally produce [the] chickpea”, explains Lopez. These crops are cultivated directly with small scale farmers in Guatemala and through socially responsible production chains. Chickpeas are a crop that can withstand extreme drought conditions, which are evident in Guatemalan lands. This reduces farmer migration to the US and provides stable economic opportunities for local farmers where they can earn “up to 3 times more net income as compared to corn (Guatemala’s traditional crop)”.
Furthermore, Lopez reveals that Yummus Foods’ main innovation is that it is asset light which allows them to shift their focus from operations directly to other brands which “brings agility, speed, and focus on innovation”. This allows Yummus Foods to have products such as Banzitos and Tahini which also source chickpeas locally from Mexico. This company is aiming to provide local farmers in both Guatemala and Mexico with stable income opportunities. They plan on taking this project to other countries in future phases of their business strategy.
Yummus Foods was started by Rodrigo Lopez and Siman Layyous in the middle of 2015 with an idea “to change the world one snack at a time”. Throughout Lopez’s childhood, he was able to see the malnutrition that thousands of children go through and migration that separates families. To combat this, Lopez and Layyous founded Yummus Foods to provide consumers with healthy plant-based snacks but also to help change people’s lives, specifically those involved in the value chain. However, Lopez reveals that the steps to achieving this goal did not “come at day one of [their] project”.
This inspiration had definitely evolved through time enabling the founders to learn new things in new areas as their business flourished. As they grew to create an impact, they realized that “the most impact comes from the beginning of the value chain”. They realized that by sourcing straight from local and small scale farmers, they are able to create stable job opportunities for farmers in harsh agricultural settings and to reduce farmer emigration due to lost jobs. By formally producing chickpeas in Guatemala from Guatemalan farmers, they are able to give a chance for more families to secure a future in their own country closer to their loved ones.
Yummus Foods stands out as a distinguished leader in the Guatemalan and Central American region with a firm commitment to providing the consumer with products like anywhere else on the market. To guarantee the health and wellbeing of consumers as proposed on SDG 3, all products are made from natural plant-based ingredients, which are free of gluten, contain no artificial flavors, and have no preservatives thanks to the HPP preservation technology. Its product line uses chickpeas which are excellent sources of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fibre to not only provide the consumer with nutritional and delicious snacks but allow the consumer to get involved in solving some of the world's most devastating problems through the “Buy One Help One” program.
Regardless of being a young business, the overall impact of Yummus Foods spans across several sectors. The first tier of action starts at the beginning of the business model, by creating contracts with national farmers to specialise in the production of chickpeas which, at the same time, provides farmers more wealth than harvesting other traditional crops. But perhaps, the most influential factor about the business model is the incorporation of Rodrigo and Siman's "Buy One Help One" program, which is also supported by a non-profit organization founded by Harvard and Stanford science teachers called the Wuqu Kawoq Mayan Health Alliance. With each purchase, consumers join the fight towards ending chronic child malnutrition in the dry forest regions of Guatemala.
Thanks to Rodrigo's and Siman's success as social entrepreneurs, both have had the opportunity to travel and expand their network, formed alliances and gained mentors around the world to continue as Rodrigo reaffirms “to change the world one snack at a time”. This is why the second tier of action is made through partnerships focused on building a sustainable environment. Yummus Foods has a partnership with American non-profit Water.org to provide safe water and sanitisation around Guatemala's dry regions and another alliance with One Tree Planted, to help reforestation and protect forests in several Guatemalan departments.
The advantage of Yummus Foods is that their business model is asset light and is not focused on operations but is instead invested in brands. This results in a lower fixed cost because “[they] don’t have industrial engineers or a big staff to produce each product line.” This innovation brings more benefit to the company because it provides them with an asset model which enables them to work with different local and international co-packers so that it is not biased towards one specific product. Rodrigo shared his ambition in expanding to other countries such as the United States and the rest of Latin America via venture capital. Due to the fact that their social impact has successfully been achieved through their business model, Yummus Foods has been garnering more interest and support from international investors.
Although Yummus donates and supports different organizations through the program “Buy one, Help one”, they are still able to generate sustainable income. Each product has a different cost structure, so it is measured and entered in different amounts accordingly. For instance, when a $3.5 product is sold, a higher percentage of the investment goes to another institution than when a $1 product is sold. Since Yummus is a for-profit company, they are still able to capitalize their products effectively while providing social change and impact. Because supporting social causes is now relevant and timely to millennial consumers, Yummus Foods is popular all over Guatemala and is present in all food retailers and supermarkets. This innovation gives the brand more exposure to increase their sales and contribute further to their cause.
As Rodrigo said, “Yummus contributes a lot socially and environmentally to Guatemalan society”. Guatemalan's traditional crops are beans, corn, and coffee; but all have low prices, high costs, rising temperatures, and water shortages which make their production difficult. This resulted in many farmers immigrating to the United States. 15% of Guatemala's GDP is composed of remittances mostly from immigrants in the United States. Therefore, to take action on this migratory issue, Yummus Foods, hopes to overcome this by promoting the harvest and production of chickpeas because they can grow even in extreme weather conditions such as droughts. In fact, the harvest of chickpeas is immensely correlated with SDG 12, as a way of sustainable production. Chickpeas absorb nitrogen from the air and fix it on the soil to act as a natural fertilizer. By doing this, not only does it help domestic farmers increase yield, avoid the use of chemical fertilizers and save water, but also earn three times the income of traditional crops like coffee, beans or corn.
Unfortunately, Guatemala ranks as the 1st country in Latin America and the 6th in the world with chronic malnutrition among children. To combat this, Yummus is running the program called “Buy One, Help One” to directly support SDG 2 of zero hunger. By buying a product, consumers can change not only their health but the lives of others as well. The program is allied with many different organizations to address social issues such as malnutrition, reforestation, access to water, and women's health. The program provides not only financial support but also behaviour change training. As a result, people don't just get nutrition, water, food, and health; Yummus Foods makes sure to promote healthier habits which ultimately makes their program sustainable for the future generations to come.
Rodrigo Lopez, CEO & Co-Founder
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Guatemala City, GT
Business Website: https://www.yummusfoods.com/
Year Founded: 2015
Number of Employees: 11 to 50
From a humble garage in Guatemala to tabletops of Latin America, the innovation of Yummus Foods successfully shared the gift of hummus all the while combating malnutrition and providing economic support for local chickpea farmers. With social impact as one of their main missions, Yummus Foods continues to prove to the world that successful profitable businesses are possible while having a heart for the people.