TechnoServe Partners with Cargill to Support Entrepreneurs in Venezuela

Three-year program will identify and nurture promising companies through business plan competitions

CARACAS, VENEZUELA, June 30, 2010 -- TechnoServe, in partnership with Cargill, has created an entrepreneur development program in Venezuela to identify promising small businesses and help them overcome obstacles to growth.

The program is part of Idea Tu Empresa, a series of business plan competitions in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. TechnoServe, Cargill and local organization Foco Sustentable aim to create sustainable economic opportunities for poor communities in Venezuela by nurturing entrepreneurs and helping them expand their businesses, creating jobs as well as markets for supplies and services. The partners also hope to build businesses that can benefit communities by producing affordable products. Cargill and TechnoServe previously worked together successfully on business plan competitions in Central America.

The Venezuelan program will assess the characteristics and needs of the country and its entrepreneurs, in order to spur the creation of a network of profitable, growing companies in Caracas and the other main cities of Venezuela. TechnoServe and its local partners will work with high-potential entrepreneurs to develop effective business plans, while Cargill will offer opportunities to participate in its supply chain.

“This partnership is a perfect example of TechnoServe’s innovative approach to helping lift people out of poverty through private-sector solutions,” says TechnoServe President and CEO Bruce McNamer. “We’re excited to work with Cargill to create sustainable economic opportunities for the people of Venezuela.”

“This project is part of Cargill’s global commitment to engage in the local communities where we operate, and promote sustainable and responsible economic development that improves living standards and promotes vibrant, stable communities,” said Ramon Sosa, corporate affairs director, Cargill Venezuela. “The initial response to the TechnoServe business plan competition from our employees and partners in Venezuela has been very positive and has generated high expectations.”

TechnoServe will run a three-year program, thanks in part to $590,000 in funding from Cargill. The regionwide Idea Tu Empresa is supported by a $4.4-million grant from the Inter-American Development Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund.

The first leg of the program in Venezuela is under way in eight regions of the country. More than 1,100 potential entrepreneurs have been surveyed to understand their needs and challenges. Next, TechnoServe and its partners will design training programs specific to Venezuelan entrepreneurs. The competition will build on a proven track record of success – in the past eight years TechnoServe has conducted 35 business plan competitions in Latin America, Africa and India, providing high-impact business training to thousands of entrepreneurs in Latin America alone.

The goal of the program in Venezuela is to build a robust network of entrepreneurs whose growing companies could participate in Cargill’s supply chain, either as suppliers or distributors. These businesses will create jobs, improve food security for the urban poor, and provide new products and services while serving as role models for other small Venezuelan companies.

Together with Cargill employees and Foco Sustentable’s consultants, TechnoServe business advisors will choose 80 promising business plans from an initial projected pool of 300. The selected entrepreneurs will attend a 10-week training program. TechnoServe advisors will work closely with Cargill employees to help the entrepreneurs develop robust business plans and grow their enterprises by adding product lines, reaching new markets, accessing financial resources, expanding with franchises or opening subsidiaries. Seed capital is available to help launch the most promising businesses.

Cargill’s longstanding partnership with TechnoServe extends beyond financial assistance to include the technical expertise, time and support of its employees and businesses in other countries. For example, in Mozambique, Cargill helped TechnoServe and local stakeholders develop an avian flu mitigation plan and contributed to the national government strategy for strengthening the public veterinary service. In addition, Cargill has funded projects and provided technical assistance to improve market access for cocoa farmers in Africa, in conjunction with TechnoServe and other partners. Cargill has also supported TechnoServe business plan competitions in Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala.

About TechnoServe: TechnoServe is a leader in a movement that empowers people in the developing world to build businesses that break the cycle of poverty. Growing enterprises generate jobs and other income opportunities for poor people, enabling them to improve their lives and secure a better future for their families. Since its founding in 1968, the U.S.-based nonprofit has helped to create or expand thousands of businesses, benefiting millions of people in more than 30 countries. The Financial Times has rated TechnoServe one of the top five NGOs for corporate partnerships. Apart from Cargill, TechnoServe’s corporate partners include The Coca-Cola Company, General Mills, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Nestlé-Nespresso, Olam International, Peet’s Coffee & Tea and Unilever, among others. Charity Navigator has also awarded its highest Four Star ranking to TechnoServe for four consecutive years. For more information about our organization, please visit our website at www.technoserve.org.

About Cargill: Cargill is an international provider of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services. Founded in 1865, the privately held company employs 138,000 people in 67 countries. Cargill helps customers succeed through collaboration and innovation, and is committed to applying its global knowledge and experience to help meet economic, environmental and social challenges wherever it does business. For more information, visit www.cargill.com.


About Cargill Community Giving: Cargill gives back to communities by contributing 2 percent of its global consolidated pre-tax earnings (based on a three-year trailing average). Cargill donated $58.2 million in 50 countries during its 2009 fiscal year. We provide support to organizations, projects and programs that fall in three focus areas: nutrition and health; education; and environmental stewardship.

For more information, please contact:
Andrew Eder, Senior Marketing Communications Coordinator, TechnoServe; Tel: +1 (202) 719-1327; Email: aeder@tns.org
Susan Eich, Director, Corporate Responsibility Communications, Cargill; Tel: +1 (952) 742-6245; Email: susan_eich@cargill.com