Bank of Best Practices
Society and community
Group of Interest: Society and Community
Commitment: Participate in the sustainable development of the country framed under joint responsibility and respect for Human Rights
Objective: Straighten joint responsibility relations
based on dialogue and participation
Synopsis: With important industries, Ecopetrol supports economic and social straightening initiatives improving life conditions of people
in Yumbo (Vallle) communes and areas.
Alliance for change
The Comuna Uno and the Uribe Uribe neighborhood of the municipality of Yumbo extends accross a great area of mountainsides with a privileged view of the industry and home to the widely-known business park of Valle del Cauca, paper and cement manufacturing companies, and one of the biggest transport plants of Ecopetrol, which is responsible for supplying fuel to the Colombian west.
Since the comuna and the neighborhood are within its area of influence, and they have traditionally been areas under high levels of anomalies, Ecopetrol has decided to create an alliance with the other companies of the area to carry out a series of projects promoting social and institutional platforms, as well as collective processes for land development.
In compliance with their social liability policy, Ecopetrol promoted in 2006 the creation of a Business Alliance formed by the social foundations of Smurfit Cartón de Colombia, Propal and Cementos Argos.
In a first step, this Alliance contracted a survey on the Comuna Uno and based on such results a socio-economic forecast was made, which helped assess the urgent needs of a very vulnerable community.
The analyses have shown the need to work on the economic and social straightening of the region, supported by leaders and the current community organizations. Therefore, the Business Alliance associated with the Cooperation for Integral Development of Comuna Uno (Corpouno in Spanish), a non-profit entity that, as from 2007, brings together the community efforts of the region.
Supported by Corpouno, in 2009 Ecopetrol?s Social Management team arrived at the community to train its leaders in subjects like organization straightening and capacity development to find a job.
To make the different initiatives appeared in the community come true, Corpouno invited the community organizations to participate in the creation of productive projects to help them get access to the economic resources granted by the companies of the Business Alliance.
One of the selected projects took place in a humble mud house of the Panorama neighborhood in the Uno commune. The five members of the Benavides family arrived there by the late 90s, running away from violence, which took away the farm they had in the municipality of Caldono, Cauca, where they used to live.
Displaced, and with no other supports than her hand skills, Mrs. Maria and her husband Alberto made a small wood saw. In an unexpected part of the house, and helped by the woods from the Business Alliance through Corpouno, they built a carpentry workshop, which now produces hundreds of orthopedic limes. The micro-enterprise is called ABS and is specialized in lime products for manicure and pedicure and by early 2010 it carried out its first export to Ecuador.
A bit lower, by the mountain skirts around the municipality of Yumbo, Mr. Ricaurte Guerrero is one of the most popular men of Las Américas neighborhood, also in the Uno commune. A few years ago he and other pensioners created "Hojas Calendario" (Calendar Pages), a group of elders gathering together 33 senior people, around productive activities like selling pastries in stores or a chicken farm.
On Sundays these grandparents gather together in the commune room to enjoy the small bazaars they organize, where everybody participates thanks to the earnings they get from selling turnovers and the needlework they do through the week.
Lower, another group of 15 home mothers created "Resurgir" (Revive), a women association of Yumbo. They started up a remanufacturing workshop to make quilts, cushions, and dolls. Their products have been fully accepted in retail stores and two malls in the urban part of Yumbo.
"Since I was a little girl my mom taught me some tricks to mend dresses and learn how to embroider clothes. Thanks to Resurgir I now have my own threading machine, where I can make, for instance, a bedspread for a double bed in less than two days. With the earnings we get from the orders we get, I can support my family", says Maria Ninfa, one of the business women.
Thus, supported by the range of productive projects and micro-enterprises of the neighborhood, the Business Alliance Ecopetrol is part of, is creating closer ties with Yumbo community.