Guatemala, March 02, 2018 – Business leaders and entrepreneurs can unlock new market opportunities worth more than US$1 trillion and generate up to 24 million jobs in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) by 2030 through sustainable business models, according to the Better Business, Better World LAC, a recent report from the Business & Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC).
The BSDC contacted 1,500 CEOs over two years to persuade them that embracing development can boost their bottom line. Many companies are looking past quarterly results to discover long-term economic opportunities in U.N. goals to end poverty and protect the planet, said Malloch-Brown of the BSDC, but the biggest barrier is CEOs’ mindsets.
One CEO who is committed to these ideals is Fernando Bolaños, who helms AgroAmerica, a family-owned tropical fruit operation with farms and packing plants in Latin America. Their social programs are fully aligned with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and they’ve seen positive results.
“It’s a proven fact that companies do not grow if the towns where they operate stagnate,” said Bolaños. “Nor can they operate if they don’t have good relations with the local communities. So besides providing decent jobs, we strive to do things responsibly and sustainably.”
The company contributes to local development, which includes workers and their families and the surrounding villages. This approach is only successful if the company works hand-in-hand with local actors: local governments, NGOs, academia, government institutions, and other companies in the area. AgroAmerica coordinates with all local actors to determine needs, establish priorities and define a joint collaboration plan.
Guatemala is a signatory of the U.N. SDGs and the SDGs are perfectly aligned with the AgroAmerica social and environmental programs. “This alignment allows us, in addition to helping to contribute with the country to achieve the SDGs, to have a better local and international image,” says Bolaños. AgroAmerica has seen positive results from the sustainable development programs. The Living Wage program is one example of how CSR has contributed to their bottom line. “In addition to providing a fair and dignified salary, the program includes healthcare and education for our workers and their families, as well as prizes for productivity,” explains Bolaños. “This has resulted in less absenteeism and healthier workers who are better trained. They know how to follow instructions and understand technical manuals or product labels.“ There can be no doubt that happy, healthy and motivated workers are an asset in any business. AgroAmerica is certainly reaping the benefits of this approach.
AgroAmerica is a sustainable grower, shipper and distributor of tropical fruit with operations in the United States, Guatemala, Europe, Peru and Ecuador. It has emerged as a leader in socially responsible and environmentally sustainable farming.