Founded in 1985, Maquita Cushunchic Comercializando como Hermanos (MCCH) is a private, non-profit socio-economic institution. Maquita began its work with grassroots church communities in the south of Quito, Afro-Ecuadorian farmers from Esmeraldas, and indigenous people from Cotopaxi and Chimborazo who brought their products directly to sell them at markets, fairs and through distribution groups in Quito.
It began with basic products, forming a network of community stores, warehouses, storage centres and farmer mills in various provinces of the country. Later, due to the demand from some groups, the coordination of artisans, rural agro-industrial plants for food processing and groups of communities receiving responsible tourism took place.
In this context, a concrete response was given to the serious situation of people and sectors with fewer resources, through the creation of a system of education, training and participatory marketing.
Maquita currently has 3 commercial branches: Maquita Products, in charge of exporting handicrafts (jewellery, textiles, accessories) and agro-industry products, Maquita Agro, the second biggest exporter of cocoa in Ecuador, and Maquita Tourism, its own tour operator that established the foundations and became a leader in the field of fair tourism.
From 2012 to 2013, and with an amount of 57,135.55 euros, a first project was supported by the TDC for one year. This project was intended to strengthen the producers’ associative marketing network led by Maquita Solidaria in 4 different provinces of Ecuador: Los Rios, Pichincha, Cotopaxi and Chimborazo. To do so, a new marketing plan was needed since Maquita buys at least 60% of the communities’ production as raw materials for its own manufactured goods. This strategy required the implementation of a new promotional campaign that enabled the producer network to generate some commercial contracts thanks to efficient brand positioning and good packaging. Community-driven groups were able to market their products together and better handle their business, which indicates that local capacities had been strengthened. As the following results show, business profitability rose due to a better turnover and better production capacity. The producers’ income increased too, showing that the TDC support met the locals’ expectations and improved access to new markets.
From 2017 to 2018, a second project (94,329 euros) was supported by TDC to strengthen the associative marketing network promoted by Maquita, articulating the production of 2 producer organisations in 2 provinces of Ecuador, through the development of local capacities with a focus on gender and environmental protection. More precisely, the objectives and their results were as follows:
- Strengthened associative management capacities with a gender and environmental approach in 2 producer organisations through the implementation of training plans developed by Maquita.
The project allowed the development of management and community marketing capacities of 29 women and 47 men, which are being implemented within their organisations, contributing to the strengthening of management processes and citizen participation. For this they have strategic plans as a tool to guide the work of leaders in the implementation of community activities and projects.
- Improved productivity levels in 2 producer organisations based on improvements in production processes.
In the area of productivity improvement, 92 producers have access to agroecological technological packages for implementation in pineapple and mango plantations, which contributes to an innovative proposal of organic production focused on increasing production, reducing the risks of pests and diseases, sufficient light and ventilation, renovation of productive areas, and reduction of production costs, and favours improving the quality and greater durability of the crop. To complete the production process with marketing, the two organisations have a collection point with inputs that ensure proper storage of the product and post-harvest handling, and guarantee a fair weight at the time of purchase from producers.
- The marketing of two producer organisations has been strengthened through Fairtrade channels promoted by Maquita.
The two organisations have been linked to a process of marketing their production through Maquita products and Supermaxi, achieving a total of 53,172.00 kilos of fruit benefiting a total of 72 producers at the end of January 2018. This production has been processed at the Maquita plant thanks to the acquisition of dehydrator equipment that allows an improvement in the productive capacity of the plant by 46%. In addition, the two organisations have participated in a total of 5 fairs, which have helped producers develop negotiation skills and promote their product.