The three organizations have formed a hybrid organization, each one pursuing different objectives, but working together they have managed to save one of the endangered ecosystems of Mexico.
EGADE Business School Tecnologico de Monterrey
What has happened in the La Paz area is something rarely seen: through a coordination effort, three organizations that at first glance could seem to work each their own way have found a common core and have built a consortium of sorts that works in coordination to exploit the resources, distribute the generated wealth, and preserve the local ecosystem. This unique sustainable supply chain has only become possible because of a common threat, which was the erosion of the local ecosystem caused by the over-exploitation of the resources in the ecosystem.
Alejandro Flores, who is the leader of this innovation, works closely with the fishermen of OPRE, which consist of a local cooperative unit of 109 people. He was in charge of Achamar and now is responsible to be the commercialization and operations leader and bring resources much needed for the conservation efforts. Since 2010, he has been working on ways to improve the community and bring prosperity through conservation efforts.
Through a shared vision Alejandro and the team believe in the restoration of the social fabric, restoration of ecosystems, and regeneration of collaborative economies.
NOA | Sustainable Consortium in La Paz
Alejandro explained during the interview talks about how working inside an NGO helped him to construct the vision needed in order to evolve the supply chain into what it is today: “The inspiration started with the NOS mission of restoring the sea. In order to do that we needed to develop the community and its governance.” This is one of the most important steps, if not the most important. While working in NOS (Noroeste Sustentable, which stands for Sustainable Northwest) back in 2015, he realized one of the harshest truths every NGO faces: “In order to restore something…we needed a lot of money, philanthropic money is not enough.” So Alejandro started to develop Achamar, which works as a link and has the right to own the products the fishermen deliver and can commercialize the products.
Through the shared vision, he declared: “We need to heal our people, in order for people to heal the ecosystem.”
The overall impacts of this innovation are:
Achamar right now is considered a good investment according to some venture capitalist (VC) groups, as Alejandro stated in the interview he has received term sheets and is currently working to get the right investment partner. Even international VC firms aimed at investing in sustainable efforts have shown interest in the way Achamar is structured.
Capturing the main supplier of callo de hacha from the northern part of Mexico has many advantages because as a distribution company he gets a stable supply of penshells, and having a big volume is key to the strategic part of the business.
Having set conservation and quality standards in accordance with an NGO has helped the business of Achamar to avoid potential reputational problems for the sourcing of penshells. They also help to maintain the quality of the product harvested.
Right now, the organization is considered to have a stock of penshell of around 70 million MXP in value.
Research and development for new business processes and product is reduced as the cooperative of fishermen involved in his workforce see the potential for an improvement in harvesting of products and aquaculture. They have been working with local laboratories, and there is potential to speed up the process and improve the environment even more if aquaculture of penshells is possible.
A business working with an NGO has a powerful selling point if the price is at the same level as other options.
The very first indicator of positive change was the formation of the first fishermen cooperative association, as for cultural reasons people found it difficult to trust each other as they saw themselves as rivals. This is a sign of positive restoration for the rule of law and cohesion of the community.
The second major positive change was access to better education on fishing techniques and a change of culture from predatory harvesting to aquaculture restoration. Nonetheless, he declared that there was resistance at first from the community to the work, which is normal in isolated communities.
Teamwork is improving within the community, and they have formalized and empowered a sector that normally is subject to marginalization from government and traditional NGOs given the primary activities.
Steady income has benefited the families of the fishermen and directly improved their lives, which no longer require spear fishing of endangered species or poaching.
Alejandro Flores, Founder
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La Paz, Baja California Sur, MX
Business Website: http://achamar.mx/index.html
Year Founded: 2015
Number of Employees: 2 to 10
Noroeste Sustentable (NOS) is a consortium of partners fostering the recreation of communities, the restoration of ecosystems, and the development of collaborative fishing economies. Achamar is the financial and distribution wing of the consortium. This organization has proven successful in the effort to restore the environment of the La Paz Bay and, at the same time, generate revenues that have helped improve the living conditions of the fishermen and their families.