From Coca Leaf to Cocoa Bean Growers: Impact of an Innovative Entrepreneurial Associative Initiative on Colombia's Rural Areas

From Coca Leaf to Cocoa Bean Growers: Impact of an Innovative Entrepreneurial Associative Initiative on Colombia's Rural Areas

Sara Lopez-Gomez (Universidad del Norte, Colombia) and Mahmoud Khalik (University of St. Andrews, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2860-9.ch013
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Entrepreneurial associative initiatives (EAI) have been suggested to be a useful way for vulnerable, especially rural, communities to improve their life conditions. Although these organisations initially do get involved in product, process, organisational and marketing innovations, it is important for them to find ways of innovating permanently in order to stay ahead in such a competitive market. This chapter presents a theoretical background on the topics of relevance such as vulnerable communities, entrepreneurship and innovation which it is followed by the case of Distrito Chocolate, an EAI with a background marked by the armed conflict in Colombia, which has taken a step forward on all of their innovations activities, and furthermore has also achieved social innovation. Following the case, the authors presents some recommendations, future research avenues and conclusions, with the aim to be of assistance to practitioners, academic and policy makers interested in the EAI phenomenon
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Theorical Background


Vulnerability is a concept that has received attention from different disciplines including economics, sociology, anthropology, disaster management, environmental science, health and nutrition (Alwang, Siegel and Jorgensen, 2001); hence there is no surprise to encounter different definitions as well as measurement problems for it.

This book chapter will follow a sociology/anthropology view of vulnerability because it captures a socioeconomic status (Alwang, Siegel and Jorgensen, 2001) and it is concerned with livelihood, survival and being safe (Moser and Holland, 1997). Vulnerability may emerge from and has been expanded towards different approaches enclosing susceptibility, exposure, coping capacity and adaptive capacity. It has also been considered to be physical, social, economic, environmental and institutional (Vélez, Narváez, Cortés and Cohen, 2001; Birkmann, 2007); and it has been related to poverty (Alwang, Siegel and Jorgensen, 2001) as poor people, households and communities are considered the most vulnerable (Moser and Holland, 1997).

Furthermore, it is far from uncommon that all around the world rural and minority communities are subject to human right abuses, becoming vulnerable communities. This is often the case as third parties identify their lands as valuable ones either for exploitation or for control of territory (Burnyeat, 2013). The latter is specially the case within armed conflicts, which has desolating effects on a community by affecting directly its individuals who result killed, injured or disabled (Guha-Sapir and van Panhuis, 2002). An armed conflict also attacks the community´s infrastructure on agriculture, destroys property households and food storages, thus forces migration and displaced population into other cities or countries. As result of it, the poverty line thickens as very often this population have low education levels and cannot have access to financial markets (Ibañez and Moya, 2010) or enrol into high-payed jobs. Furthermore, by using anti-personnel mines in cultivated areas, farmers cannot return to their areas (Guha-Sapir and van Panhuis, 2002). The latter situation is well summarised by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC, 2008), which considers a community to be vulnerable whenever power is being disputed by any dominant group within their area which leaves them exposed to lack of health, education, sanitary and social safety (Global Community, 2014)

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