Sustainable businesses: the future of small entrepreneurs in the San Martin region

Written by: Miguel Erazo

PERU-Hub Communications Office

In recent years, San Martin has experienced a productive revolution. The region has a wide variety of cocoa supply and is known for its fine-scented chocolates. However, these productive projects are not the only ones in this important Amazon region. Yucca starch donuts, honey and a diverse range of Amazonian beverages are just some of the small and medium-sized businesses that are also developed in San Martin.

Many of these products do not yet have a commercial brand, but they have the necessary requirements to compete in large markets: excellent quality, consumer satisfaction and a good value price.

Angela Fuentes is coordinator of the PERU-Hub Entrepreneurship Component and leads actions in favor of strengthening entrepreneurship in this important tropical region. Angela tells us in this interview about the work they do to improve the commercial potential of small entrepreneurs.

M.S. Angela Fuentes is specialist in sustainable business models, innovation and entrepreneurship programs. She is also part of the staff of Incubagraria, Business Incubator of the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina (UNALM).

1. What is the main task of the Entrepreneurship Component in PERU-Hub?

We seek to strengthen the enterprises of the San Martin region, their business models and connect them with more markets, local and national. At the same time, we also seek to be able to capitalize them with seed capital funds or investments.

2. It is known that many businesses in San Martin localities still have limitations regarding their commercialization. What is the current status of these small business?

San Martin still has a small ecosystem of startups, most of the companies sell locally. Tourism is an activity that contributes a lot, attracts tourists and they are the ones who consume its products; however, their final products still need to be improved, especially in terms of quality and presentation, so that they can grow and expand their markets, and that is precisely where #PERUHub, through the #Entrepreneurship Component, wants to contribute.

#Entrepreneurship has identified that most products correspond to the food sector, such as: chocolates, cocoa or coffee-based liqueurs, honey, native products, etc.

UNSM Business Incubator Team, with M.S. Angela Fuentes from PERU-Hub and Mg. Brenda Costas, manager of Incubagraria - UNALM

3. A considerable closeness and presence of PERU-Hub with the Universidad Nacional de San Martín (UNSM) was observed. What role does this institution have? and what are the actions that the UNSM will execute from Tarapoto?

PERU-Hub aims to strengthen local actors. So, as an Entrepreneurship Component, we have our main actor, which is the Business Incubator of the UNSM. They are also our beneficiaries, so this also involves strengthening it, especially the human team.

This first year we have given them different training to improve their processes, and of course, also to obtain financing, already as an incubator.

The idea is that they can be self-sustaining and continue to support entrepreneurship in #SanMartin. We seek to leave a base.

4. In what stage or situational state are the undertakings of San Martin?

The vast majority are still in the early stages. Although it is true that some have their own brands, they still need to improve the finish of the product, both at a technical and processing level. They need to improve that, because if they don’t, they won’t be able to access more competitive markets, where they are asked for higher quality standards, expand their production, etc.

The coffee or cocoa cocktail is one of the enterprises that was identified in towns such as Moyobamba or Nueva Cajamarca, in San Martin region.
Honey bee entrepreneur along with its products and derivatives.
Yucca starch donuts.

5. How much influence does the type of product have when it comes to strengthening a business?

In the case of food products, the form of consumption, presentation or storage, play an important role.

However, innovation always fulfills a determining value. For example, when fruit is combined in the case of beverages, a differential value is created that will greatly influence its success.

Other aspects could also be their flavor or properties, many products have high nutritional properties that make them very attractive for consumption.

6. This month, they have carried out a Pre-Incubation Program in Moyobamba (San Martín). What did it consist of? and how does it help the objectives of PERU-Hub in San Martin?

This program is a first pilot to get closer to the enterprises, not only those of PERU-Hub, but also those of the region.

The idea is to attract new entrepreneurs to identify and suggest improvements to their business models, such as their value proposition or branding.

We have started in Moyobamba, but on October 15 and 16 of this year, it will continue in Tarapoto. In this way, a larger universe of enterprises in the region will be covered.

Pre-Incubation Program in Moyobamba (September 24 and 25, 2022). In the image, the PERU-Hub Entrepreneurship team, Utah State University students and participating entrepreneurs.

7. What plans does the PERU-Hub Entrepreneurship team have for the second year of the project?

For year two, the activities of the #Entrepreneurship Component will focus on incubation activities, specifically on theoretical-practical workshops. It will be the most important and will be developed until the end of the project.

Every year we will hold workshops with different groups of entrepreneurs, providing mentoring and supporting them hand in hand with students from Utah State University (USU), an allied institution of PERU-Hub for the strengthening of small and medium businesses in #SanMartin.