If the beginnings are difficult for an enterprise, it is more complex to stay in time in a sustainable way, especially if it aims to conquer markets far from the country of origin. What are the main challenges when exporting? The small and medium Ecuadorian exporters show their greatest achievements and the challenges they face and overcome successfully
Tababuela sweetens the north zone at the tip of efficiency
Ingenuosa Azucarero del Norte (IANCEM) is located in Imbabura. From this province of the Sierra produces sugar and molasses, under the brand name Tababuela. It has 52 years of operations, and is considered by PROECUADOR as a SME for the amount of billing. It has suppliers and cultivation programs for 4,600 hectares of sugarcane, according to its official website. Although the product is sold mostly in the local market, since 2017 exports to Colombia.
Alejandro Maldonado E., president of IANCEM, cites among his main achievements those related to the increase in field productivity by 25%, which resulted in a 10% increase in factory efficiency. With these results, timely payments were secured to first-hand suppliers, such as the sugarcane growers. This last part is important, due to the adaptation processes that the company went through.
The origins of the Ingenio date back to 1964 when the Social Security Savings Banks decided to install a Sugar Mill in the area; Once the work was completed in 1966, the Ingenio was sold to the TAINA company, which in 1977 was seized by the company, in view of not being able to fulfill the commitments acquired with the IESS and the company passed into the hands of judicial depositories. In 1985, the Mixed Economy Company Ingenio Azucarero del Norte was formed, constituted with the contribution of the IESS, cañicultores of Imbabura and Carchi, private shareholders and workers of the company.
As major challenges, Maldonado cited the diversification of the product line. A first step was fulfilled with the launch of the line of minor sugar presentations of 2 Kg, 1 Kg and 1 pound. With the variety of supply, the company aims to increase its client base in industries, in such a way that the revenues allow for the promotion and financing of sugarcane growers. In this way, IANCEM seeks to maintain the trend of improvement and increased productivity, both in the factory and in the field.
Ecua-Andino stopped selling hats, now offers ‘brand’
Straw hats are one of the most representative handicrafts in Ecuador. They have become a national symbol and have evolved to go with the current fashion. One of those that makes it possible for this product to be seen in all parts of the world is Ecua-Andino. The company was born by the hand of Alejandro Lecaro and Édgar Sánchez, who, being tour guides, noted the predilection of foreigners for handmade things.
And so, 35 years ago, the export of crafts made with ceramics, knits and hats began. Over time they evolved and focused on the export of a traditional product: the toquilla straw hat better known as Panama Hat.
Edgar Sánchez, co-founder, partner and administrative manager of Ecua-Andino, emphasizes that they were pioneers in exporting large volumes of completely finished products. But for the last three years he has noticed a decline in exports due to substitute products that exist worldwide, such as cloth hats and other types of straws, because these are cheaper. Given this, the company identified that its products were positioned in such a way that currently it does not sell only hats. “Our new clients are looking for us for the brand, they want to buy Ecua-Andino hats,” says Sánchez, who says that this is the greatest achievement.
Export to more than 50 countries and took an innovative turn to be the first that offered the Panama Hats in the fashion market. With this innovative dose, it surpassed other companies that exported exclusively “bells” (semi-finished hats).
The Internal Revenue Service lists Ecua-Andino as a medium-sized company, which currently has 37 employees.
Among the challenges of this SME, is the adaptation of internal processes, such as being forced to electronic invoicing, a procedure that does not allow changes and in case of having to make a change, the procedures are complicated. There are also the procedures for the regularization of this export, for lack of interconnection between the regulatory bodies. “Many times they have asked us, from the SRI, for information that Customs also has and vice versa. If they are interconnected, I do not know why they ask for it, “so this would be an issue to improve, suggests Sanchez.
3.- International certifications
Wipala goes beyond borders with its nutritious snacks.
Wipala is a SME dedicated to the manufacture of nutritious snacks, which uses raw materials from the four regions of Ecuador. It has four and a half years in the market and in addition to having presence in the hangers of the country, its products reach the markets of the United States (California, New York and Texas), Chile, Spain and Russia. Jaime Santillán, CEO and Co-founder, highlights the awards obtained from different fronts including the AI Award Ecuador 2015 (Alliance for Entrepreneurship and Innovation); “New Mypime Exportadora” award (Proecuador 2016-2017) and “Mypime highlighted MIPRO” (2017); the nomination in 2015 of the World Bank as the flagship endeavor of Ecuador among other awards.
The challenges, now, are focused on consolidating its presence in the United States. At the same time, there is the process to obtain the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) certification until the end of 2018, which consists of guaranteeing food safety.
European Union, the goal for the next two years is to increase our presence in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and France. Currently they are working on a co-branding and development with a recognized company in Ecuador for the launch of a new product. As well as the development of the first products outside the category of bars.
4.- Market diversification
Super Cereals Gourmet gave added value to the quinoa what was born as an initiative to promote the cultivation of quinoa in the province of Carchi, became an exporting enterprise that reaps successes.
Super Cereales Gourmet is an Ecuadorian company that emerged in 2014 with the purpose of reactivating the fields in the rural area of Tulcán. It was an incentive for the farmer and for the peasant families, because they created sources of work in the area.
Then in 2015 they implemented machines and equipment to add value to the product, in such a way that it contributed to the change of the productive matrix. “From the beginning, the main objective was the foreign market, so the evolution of exports first began in the Colombian market and subsequently the US and Panama markets grew,” says Carlos Montenegro Mafla, manager.
In this process, the main achievements of the company focused on working with communities. “It is a wonderful thing to see whole families involved in quinoa crops, women children all contribute, now in the province of Chimborazo for most of the communities the cultivation of quinoa has become the livelihood of families,” says Montenegro.
For this work to be sustainable, they created commercial alliances between companies; while innovation and development of value added products of quinoa was also key. This way it caters to consumers of different ages, from a baby of 8 months to an older adult with products in different presentations such as: snacks, granolas, quinoa flakes for breakfast, salads and soups, as well as flour for kitchen and pastry uses additional fettuccine for people celiacas.
But Montenegro the main challenge is to venture into new markets, because there are countries that even unaware of this superfood. For this, you need to acquire international certifications, to achieve access to European and Asian markets, and maintain constant innovation with quality products.
This company did not send a photo but attached a link. Suddenly you can print a couple of their products http://www.cerealesgourmet.com/productos.html. (I)