COLOMBIA - Industry
Rafael Esteban Álvarez Escobar is a civil engineer and executive with more than 25 years of professional career, with a solid commercial and marketing background and a wide experience in different areas of business management. His vast experience has been gained through a career in different Latin American countries such as Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, and Peru with Procter & Gamble, SABMiller, and ABInbev.
TBY talks to Rafael Esteban Álvarez Escobar, CEO of Alquería.
What is Alquería’s business focus and development objectives?
Alquería is a leading company in the food sector in Colombia, with 63 years in the country, with a national presence and a focus on the dairy sector. True to our purpose and good founding principles, this company was founded by a doctor who used to say, “a bottle of milk, a bottle of health.” The founding principles are based on nurturing the future of Colombia by transforming dreams and realities. That leads us to invest heavily in the quality part, combined with a strong commitment to society and the environment, to nurture the future of Colombia. Proof of this is that last year we were certified as B corporation, validating and certifying some of the practices we have been applying over the last decades, in line with our purpose and founding values.
Can you give us an introduction to Alquería’s Farmer Training program?
Agriculture has huge opportunities in Colombia, though one of the problems today is the low level of dairy productivity, which means the business is not the most efficient or the most attractive for farmers. Two, due to different factors, including an issue of lack of infrastructure and opportunities and the issue of violence that the country experienced for many years, many of the ranchers and farmers are over 60 years old on average. Most of them and their children have migrated to cities looking for opportunities, and we must not only give them opportunities in the short term, but also in the medium term to ensure better productivity and so that they can see themselves as entrepreneurs. When we change this mentality, they will start to see themselves as rural entrepreneurs and say, “I have a company, and I can cover the market.” Part of that is Heirs of Tradition. Heirs of Tradition provides education to the children of many of these ranchers and helps them see it as a real business with better productivity and management of the entire business. Heirs of Tradition is an 18-month program that is done together with the National Apprenticeship Service (Sena). One year is theoretical, and the last six months are practical and what they emerge from this with a degree. We are giving them the tools to have a livelihood for life and excel.
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