Politics, Law and Economics (PLE) students were given the opportunity to participate in the GAWA project

@IE University

At a conference, IE University Students were given the opportunity to present their research, focusing on the impact opportunities and the role of cooperatives in Colombia

One of IE University’s major distinguishing characteristics is its diversity. This diversity stems from the interactions seen on our campuses every day. Whether it’s between a variety of different nationalities, ideas or insights, diversity seeps through every aspect of life at IE University.

It is through continuous circulation that these are then able to generate a positive impact across different environments and cultures around the world.

The Bachelor in Politics, Law and Economics is particularly focused on pursuing diversity and aims to shape tomorrow’s leaders by encouraging them to analyze and apply critical thinking to come up with solutions to important, current, and future world matters.

In this respect, IE University is particularly keen on hosting international events. On one hand, so students are offered a broader perspective on the issues that lie ahead, and on the other, to promote promising collaborations between students and organizations.

One of the many events that IE University has hosted is GAWA Capital, the largest Impact Investment Fund in Spain. On November 30th, GAWA Capital’s CEO, Agustín Vitorica, presented the Fund. He also presented the latest impact investing initiative which 2nd year IE University students have also been involved in as research analysts.

At the conference, IE  University Students were given the opportunity to present their research, focusing on the impact opportunities and the role of cooperatives in Colombia.

Generally speaking, a co-operative is defined as a firm owned, controlled, and operated by a group of users for their own benefit. In the context of impact investing, the members of the cooperative voluntarily unite to reach their shared socio-cultural aspirations. In Colombia, these entities have a highly relevant role in helping to achieve the proposed sustainable development goals of the country as they provide employment – an important source for economic growth.

In fact, the cooperative movement provides 137,888 jobs through direct employment and an additional 559,118 jobs as worker-owners in workers’ cooperatives – summing to 3.65% of all jobs in the country. These cooperatives are mainly focused around the agricultural sector, the largest sector throughout most of Latin America.

Despite these numbers looking promising, Colombian co-operatives are currently facing multiple challenges. Firstly, the lack of productivity, the difficult access to capital, and the lack of adequate access to land and credit. This is all alongside the restrained use of technology and the low level of influence deriving from excessive fragmentation of agricultural land.

In this context, GAWA Capital carried out a project to enable a well-known Colombian food producing cooperative, Colanta, to export its produce (cereal, dairy products, wine, sausages) to Canada, the United States, Guatemala, Venezuela, and Curaçao.

One particular impact-investing project was focused around providing free refrigerators, made achievable to the co-operative. In fact, one of the major problems that dairy producers face is the high deterioration rate of their products which can happen when they are not properly preserved. This, in turn, harms the distribution opportunities and ultimately their economic growth.

In a relatively short period of time, Colanta was able to reach a far larger market which consequently then pushed the value of milk up, increased salaries, and generated economic growth and social development as crime significantly decreased in the area. Today, Colanta is able to export butter and milk powder to Panama and even as far as Russia, a whole other continent away.

This successful collaboration allowed the PLE students to gain hands-on practice in politics, law and economics. They were able to experience the dynamics behind how the world works and the positive impacts they can have on the world we see today as well as in the future.