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This company seeks to be one of the best companies for the world. They believe SHARING is an act that creates wellness and that’s why they created the welfare triangle: Taste good (delicious), Makes good (nutritious) You feel right (share). Andrés explained to us how Alcagüete has a double social commitment: "Our enterprise, first attacks malnutrition, which has two important aspects undernourishment and obesity. Also, we develop friendly products with the environment."
In the first aspect THE OVERWEIGHT AND OBESITY, as shown by the WFP, is estimated to affect around 2.000 million people, affecting physical and emotional aspects of the population around the world.
In the second aspect is MALNUTRITION AND HUNGER, as shown by the WFP, it is estimated that more than 900 million people suffer a kind of malnutrition. Usually it is produced by poverty. In Colombia according to DANE statistics, the national index of extreme poverty is about 26,9% this is an alarming digit. Looking at the data by department, in Bogota around the 12.4%, in Choco this number exceeded the target, about 58.7% . In other words, more than half of the population has difficulties to access a balanced diet with the necessary requirements for the proper growth of children.
In order to combat malnutrition and its risks, the company’s statutes include the model 1 & 1, where is proposed that for each product sold they deliver a snack to a child. This, they do it through foundations specialized in the subject. Initially they began with a small foundation which over time failed to fulfill their expectations because it only operated in Bogotá. That’s why the partnerships have increased, to date, they have teamed up with two foundations that have support centers throughout the country, by that reason Alcagüete has achieved greater reach in the different departments of Colombia.
Regarding the obesity problem, they focused their production of snacks on delicious and innovative mixtures, with important nutritional value. “Despite knowing little about the subject and don’t having a food engineer at the moment, we have researched a lot and obtained different mixtures like The Quinua Pop (high in protein). Also, we have spent hours in the laboratory to achieve our purpose, it has not been easy but we have learned gradually. Also, quality people and the workers of the plant have helped us a lot in this process".
Because of its environmental commitment, packages are made of recycled materials, "Initially we had a recycled cardboard box but we noticed that people didn’t use it to share, so we decided to change to this package, which is made of R-PET plastic and aluminum, both completely friendly with the environment. In addition, this new image allows consumers to reuse the package, which is very practical for our purpose of sharing."
Alcagüete was born from the friendship of three young colombians; Pedro Mejía, Alejandro Behar and Andrés Escobar, who decided in 2013, after having a crisis in their professions, stop along the way and travel through Southeast Asia: "this experience was very useful, because we could figure out the things that we shared as life philosophy, so we thought that we could create something like entrepreneurs with an economic benefit, in order to solve a social problem’’. Thanks to this experience, these three young men saw how by means of food and the value of sharing they could be able to communicate with people who did not speak their own language and with different customs. "This trip made us realize the true purpose as people and entrepreneurs, sharing was the key word”.
Likewise, " When we returned to Colombia, the news showed how children in La Guajira were dying of hunger, so we decided to start sharing the products and then use it to help and go beyond using the model 1&1"
Of course, they were also influenced by their personal preferences in terms of healthy lifestyles and good nutrition and realized that in Colombia, snacks offer was quite scarce. Thanks to that and with an entrepreneurship idea, they decided to create an organization based on the value of sharing, it is linked to food and with the aim of eradicating malnutrition (undernutrition and obesity), that’s how the idea of Alcagüete was born.
Alcagüete has generated a high impact in Colombia, thanks to its model 1 and 1, since 2014 they have delivered more than 800,000 portions of food to children in state and risk of malnutrition in different regions of the country. This has also generated a great change in terms of children's health. Through partnerships with different foundations, "In 2017, of children who were treated, 22% recovered from childhood malnutrition and 39% came out of risk of child malnutrition" mentioned Andrés with emotion.
It works like this: For each product purchased, Alcagüete delivers a highly nutritive food. These foods may vary among regions and culture based on nutritional needs of the specific group treated.
Furthermore, Alcagüete shows its commitment and positively impacts to the agricultural sector of the country, due to the fact ingredients they use are ingredients from the region, ‘’for example, cookies have ingredients from La Guajira and these are produced in that area, somehow we also encourage the economic development of those regions’’.
Thanks to this and hand in hand with the company vision, Alcagüete seeks to create an impact on raising awareness and sensitize people about nutrition issues. It is important to the enterprise promote the value of sharing and how essential is to take care of the environment. That’s why they equate economic activity with collective welfare.
In just 4 years they consolidated Alcagüete despite not having an own production plant, only one food engineer and a small team of employees. They have managed to dabble into a competitive market little by little and, nowadays, Alcagüete products are in some chain stores of the country. Incredibly just in the first year the profits were 400 million; France and Chile have wanted to commercialize their products. They were recognized as ANDI future company when they won the first place of Destapa Futuro 2015, it represented a distinction and Alcagüete was named as “Dream Team” company. In 2017 they won an award for Child Nutrition, awarded by the Gen Cero program of Éxito foundation, finally they were chosen for two consecutive years as one of the best B companies in the world.
Alcagüete is aware that "market has different moments of consumption", for that reason they work in the search of creation of multiple product lines to reach in different channels of the market, that’s why they manufactured a nutritionally fortified cereal bar to directly combat malnutrition. "Actually, the World Food Program (WFP) is testing the product in the field, a month ago in La Guajira and we are preparing everything to start the same test in Nariño department. If this test has a positive impact these bars and cookies will be the food that we later going to give to children and maybe then sell Alcagüete products to state entities in order to generate a larger impact." Andrés Escobar.
Through national foundations, Alcagüete has achieved to get colombian children out of state and risk of malnutrition. (ODS # 2). ‘’Since two years ago we have been working with the Gen Cero foundation of Éxito multinational corporation and with aeiotú of the Carulla foundation with whom we signed the pact for child nutrition. Basically they focus on comprehensive care for children and in this moment they have 30 centers nationwide, these corporations use an educational model which we support from the nutritional recuperation model’’. The result was the Colombian prize by childhood nutrition in 2017.
Another of the benefits generated by the organization is reflected in its commitment with the environment and it is evident in the packaging used for their products, which are made by R-PET plastic and aluminum recycled and recyclable. This fulfill with the motto ‘’RE: Reduce, reuse and recycle"(ODS # 12). In addition, through messages recorded on their packages, they communicate the value of care the environment, with that they want to sensitize the community to combat climate change. (ODS # 13).
Finally, the most important benefits are the inclusion, the support for agriculture and the economic development of Colombian regions, because the ingredients that Alcagüete use, are produced in most of the country's departments such as Guajira and Nariño. (ODS # 2)
Andres Escobar Ibarra, Co-founder
Alcagüete sells food wholesale and is aimed at people who need a healthy diet; to eliminate overweight or malnutrition.