Responsive image

Reaching a broader audience with SAFE

Alejandro Escobar, Lead Operations and Investment Officer Inter-American Development Bank

Realising our goals requires a great deal of perseverance and imagination. But on the ground level, it also requires knowledge from local partners, experience and funding. We are fortunate to count the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) among our donors. IDB provided initial funding for SAFE, a multi-stakeholder alliance to boost sustainable agriculture in Latin America. The alliance was initiated by the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), the bank’s ‘innovation laboratory’ and is managed by Hivos.

Washington-based Alejandro Escobar is lead agricultural specialist for the MIF. Whereas the bank provides loans and grants to achieve development, the fund engages the private sector in solving development challenges, such as sustainable farming. That is where SAFE, the Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Environment platform in Latin America, comes in.

Once a week Escobar attends meetings with the members of the alliance to discuss the direction of the programme. He stresses the importance of communications with stakeholders. “A crucial part is communicating what the platform is about, with its different kind of projects. Interpreting the information in the review reports is important in order to meet the requirements of current donors, but also in finding new investors, in generating interest and commitment.”

According to Escobar, Hivos’s added value lies in its on-the-ground experience. “Management experience with results-driven projects is vital. Integrating many actors into one initiative is one of them. Another thing is making sure that the effort can continue, for which one needs endurance.”

Escobar underlines Hivos’s knowledge and capacity to communicate with a broader audience in order to engage private sector and civil society organisations. “Large commitments need be made, and Hivos co-ordinates efforts to leverage that aspect. On the part of companies, engagement with civil society can be in their interest as well.”

SAFE aims to contribute to making coffee the most sustainable commodity in Latin America within two to three years.