sustainable procurement

Expanding horizons on the Riviera Maya

Mexico Much Kaab women working.jpgWe’ve been working with the Much Kaab co-operative in Mexico since 2009, helping them build a business selling products, such as soap and shampoo, made from Melipona bee honey.

Now, 6 years later, we feel that we’re really beginning to make a difference. Here’s why:

  • The first phase of the project was about the conservation of the stingless bee, and the Mayan tradition of keeping Melipona bees. We established healthy colonies and bee keeping practises. Great stuff – but where’s the tourism link?
  • We moved on to helping the group formally become a co-operative, and develop their skills to enable them to run a business. All good stuff, but again, where’s the link? Where’s the impact?
  • We worked with the co-operative to develop products suitable for the tourism market, bringing together the co-operative and the private sector. There’s the link!
  • The Grand Park Royal Cancun Caribe was the first hotel to sign a purchasing agreement with the co-operative. They initially purchased the products for sale in their gift shop, and then also introduced them into guest rooms. Two more hotels followed suit (Grand Palladium Riviera Maya and Karisma Hotels and Resorts Riviera Maya), stocking the products in their gift shops. This was a huge step forward for the co-operative. Impact! But we’re not quite there yet…

Mexico Much Kaab honey products.jpgObviously, a lot has happened over the years to develop the Much Kaab business (you can read more on the project history here). The aim was to develop a viable and sustainable business for the group, which has been achieved. Success? Absolutely, but it’s about so much more than this.

For us, the real impact is this:

  • The hotel has introduced a ‘friendly’ procurement policy for local suppliers, such as 50% upfront payments and 50% final payment no longer than 7 days after delivery. This is a huge step forward, considering the hotel industry usually takes 3 to 6 months to release payments.
  • The hotel are so pleased with the products that they are considering introducing them into their sister property in Cozumel.

Mr Carlos da Silva, general manager of the Grand Park Royal Cancun Caribe, recently visited the co-operative, and said:

“Now that I’ve met with Much Kaab Cooperative, I’m very pleased to see first-hand that through our local procurement policy we are contributing to the growth of this amazing group of Mayan women. It has given me a better appreciation and a broader understanding of what goes in to each and every single shampoo or soap bar that is placed in our Villas.”

It’s been a pleasure to bridge the gap between a local supplier and a large scale tourism business, and watch them both reap the benefits of their new relationship. It’s so important that the tourism industry opens its eyes to the value that local suppliers can bring (and vice versa), and I hope this project can be a great inspiration to others in the industry.

Yuri and TerryWritten by Terry and Yuri.

Terry and Yuri help to manage the programme of work in Mexico. Click on their names to read more about them.

Fethiye farmers step closer to a sustainable future

taste of Fethiye logo300Since 2010, our Taste of Fethiye project in Turkey has been working to increase the benefits farmers in gain from tourism, and encourage good farming practise.

Having successfully increased produce yields, the project looked to assist farmers with the sale of produce to hoteliers, and other businesses, through a wholesaler under the ‘Taste of Fethiye’ brand. Now in it’s final year of Travel Foundation funding, project stakeholders have significantly begun to step-up activities in preparation for ownership after 2015.

Having seen the value in fresh, local produce, the wholesaler (through which the ToF produce is sold) has produced its own marketing materials for ToF branded fruit and vegetables. This includes printed materials such as letterheads and purchase agreements, and new van livery that includes the ToF logo. This is a really positive step towards self-sufficiency.

Senay Coskun, owner of the wholesaler in Fethiye

Senay Coskun, owner of the wholesaler in Fethiye

Below we hear from Senay Coskun, owner of the wholesaler…

“We have been working with the Taste of Fethiye project for 4 years and we are very happy with the progress. After all these years we feel ourselves as a big family with farmers, project manager and hoteliers. We are receiving quality products from the farmers and delivering them to hotels as fresh as possible.

We see the increasing interest from the hoteliers too. Every year we are increasing our sales with new hotel agreements. As the company owner I always thought that we are very much lacking in marketing and communication.  With the help of Taste of Fethiye project we feel that we’ve improved our communication and marketing skills. With the story behind and successful improvements through the years, this project gives us the tremendous opportunity to communicate more with our customers.

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Becoming a runner up in UWTO Ulysses Awards was fascinating and we were very proud to play a part in that. We wanted to promote the Taste of Fethiye brand more because the interest towards the project is increasing very rapidly we wanted to stress our involvement. After all as a service provider, working with this unique project is helping us to grow our business.”

The ToF project has been working with 29 farmers throughout 6 villages, who are now supplying produce (via the wholesaler) to hotels and businesses throughout the Fethiye region. To read more on this project, click here.