I just returned from a week in Chiapas, Mexico where I worked with Juan Sabines and Root Capital to train Juan Sabines’ team of internal inspectors on the use of Android tablets. Juan Sabines’ internal inspectors conduct annual inspections of their 500 producers’ wet mills and parcels as a component of their Fairtrade International (FLO) certification. The inspections require the completion of considerable paperwork in addition to the important process of evaluating incoming data for individual producers’ compliance.
Working with Root Capital in the summer of 2012, our Ariel Chait conducted a short pilot study at Juan Sabines to determine the feasibility of transitioning from paper inspections to digital inspections. With this transition, the cooperative would save valuable time entering and managing data, could reduce errors, while taking advantage of the capabilities of tablets to easily capture GPS coordinates, photographs, and more. Throughout the pilot, Juan Sabines expressed considerable interest in moving beyond a pilot and completing the migration to digital inspection practices. With our latest trip to Juan Sabines, the cooperative is now equipped with Android tablets and trained to conduct wet mill inspections in the field.
Juan Sabines’ wet mill inspections include the monitoring of a variety of areas, from environmental practices (where does the water you use in processing go after use?) to labor practices (do you hire any additional labor to assist you in your work?). The cooperative also asks producers a number of questions about their understanding of cooperative practices and personnel. We digitized their survey, integrated important social data on behalf of Root Capital (including the Grameen Foundation’s PPI), and configured the tablets to capture GPS coordinates for each wet mill, an audio recording of producers describing their motivations for joining the cooperative, and a photograph of the producer.
The results of the standard survey will be evaluated using AcopioPlus, and each additional data point - GPS coordinates, for instance - will serve additional purposes. GPS coordinates will be used to easily generate maps of producers’ homes, simplifying the process of scheduling future visits and directing external inspectors. Audio recordings will allow Root Capital to hear in the producers’ own words how their membership changes their lives. Photographs captured by inspectors will prove that inspectors visited. Data collection via mobile devices offers a level of richness that is simply impossible to achieve via paper surveys.
For more information on the survey or how our tools can help streamline and enhance data collection for your organization, send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Acopio makes software tools that help farmer businesses collect, manage, and share the data that is vital to their operations. As the year comes to an end, we’re taking stock of our first six months of operation. Read on for a few highlights from our work to date.
Since July, we’ve been hard at work on AcopioPlus, our web-based platform for collecting, managing, and sharing data in agricultural value chains. The cloud-hosted system helps agricultural cooperatives and other businesses at origin manage the data that is vital to their operations. This includes information about farmer deliveries, the aggregation and transfer of lots, and much more. Learn more about our system and the data we’re helping farmer-owned businesses collect and manage in this recent blog post.
This fall we launched new pilot activities in Mexico and Nicaragua alongside Root Capital, a leading social lender from Boston. The harvest is in full swing at COOMPROCOM in Nicaragua and more than 600 farmer deliveries have been processed using AcopioPlus. At Juan Sabines in Mexico, the harvest will be firing up any day now and we’re looking forward to rolling out new features - simple and intuitive internal credit management, mobile wet mill inspections by tablet, advanced lot tracking, and more - as the harvest progresses.
We were honored to join a number of fantastic entrepreneurs in Hub Ventures, a San Francisco-based incubator for social enterprises, and VentureWell, an accelerator program run by Village Capital and the NCIIA. We’re grateful for the mentorship and support we received in these programs and we’re looking forward to working with a great team and an exciting cohort in the Agora Partnerships accelerator this spring. On top of those programs, we had a blast as Featured Entrepreneurs at SOCAP in San Francisco.
As we look to 2013, we’re more energized than ever about the opportunity to help coffee producers, financiers, and buyers run more efficient operations, increase transparency, and unlock new levels of traceability. In addition to our activities in coffee, we’re exploring the use of AcopioPlus in the cacao industry - keep an eye out for announcements about an exciting partnership with a cacao operation in Belize. In the mean time, we’d love to here from you - get in touch today!
In the past several months we’ve been hard at work on AcopioPlus, our web-based platform for collecting, managing, and sharing data in agricultural value chains. The cloud-hosted system helps agricultural cooperatives and other businesses at origin manage the data that is vital to their operations. AcopioPlus is hardware-agnostic, supports offline data collection, and can be used with tablet or mobile devices.
In building AcopioPlus, we’ve taken advantage of the latest and greatest tools, technologies, and platforms to come out of Silicon Valley. At the same time, we’re building for our context - the managers and employees of agricultural operations in the developing world. AcopioPlus combines a fast and scalable back-end driven by Ruby on Rails and a simple and offline-friendly front-end thanks to thoughtful user interface design and two years of building and testing solutions that work offline.
We’re often asked to describe in more detail the data that we’re capable of collecting and managing. Below we’ve listed the modules that are up and running, a description of each module’s functionality, and specific data points that flow through each module.
|Collection||Allows for the collection of data related to farmer deliveries. Supports offline data collection.||Basic transaction data (date, collection center, etc.), producer data (name, code, community, etc.), coffee weight and grading (weight, quality, imperfections, etc.), pricing data.|
|Transfer||Allows for the aggregation of deliveries into lots and tracking from producer to collection center and on to milling facility.||Lot data by transfer (lot number, origin, receipts from collection, etc.), transfer data (timing, responsible parties, mode of transport, etc.).|
|Liquidation||Allows cooperative to enter and manage basic financial data related to producer estimates, yields, and debts. To be deployed January 2013.||Credit outlay data (source of funds, justification, type of loan, interest rate, etc.), collection/harvest data (amount turned in against estimates), final liquidation data (loans vs sales).|
|Certification||Allows cooperative to conduct farm inspections and evaluate surveys from certification schemes. Supports offline data collection via mobile devices. Data collection conducted using non-proprietary tools.||Dependent on certification scheme.|
|Administration||Allows the cooperative to manage producers, collection centers, and employees.||Producer data (identifying information, estimates, GPS coordinates, historical data), collection center data (name, location, staff), employees (name, location, roles).|
|Analysis||Allows users to review and analyze operational data in aggregate. Supports multiple stakeholder access for trusted partners. To be deployed December 2012.||Aggregate data from other modules.|
Thanks for reading more about AcopioPlus and stay tuned for more features and functionality as we continue to grow.
©2012 Acopio, Inc.