Opportunities Sprout from Growing Plantain Business

Norma Linares (left) packages plantain chips with one of her employees. Her family-owned business diversified into new product lines and improved their production by nearly 1000 percent with Feed the Future’s help.

Norma Linares owns Loma Alta, a thriving food processing enterprise that she and her husband founded in 2014 in their village of Azacualpa, Honduras. The husband and wife team turned about 300 plantains per month into chips, which they sold to local retail outlets. Home-based and family-run, the business started small, generating a net income of around $75 a month. 

Soon after Loma Alta’s founding, Linares and her husband started working with a Feed the Future project, where they were introduced to a wide range of training and technical assistance to improve processing efficiency, quality control, and packaging in their business. Feed the Future also helped Loma Alta establish ties with market contacts, giving it year-round access to reliable buyers and a more steady income throughout the year.

To help Loma Alta meet increased demand, Feed the Future connected plantain growers it was working with to Loma Alta to guarantee the business’ access to raw supplies. Loma Alta is now processing 3,000 plantains and producing 5,000 bags of chips a month. Linares and her husband are generating just over $1,000 a month in net income from this business and are expanding it to nearby communities.

With well-established markets for Loma Alta’s plantain chips, Linares saw an opportunity to diversify into other product lines. She attended trainings in dairy and sausage processing and, in early 2016, began production of both lines. In addition to the income from plantain chips, she now earns monthly net incomes of $600 from dairy products and $220 from chorizo sausages.

With these additional earnings, Linares has seized the opportunity to grow her small business. Now, she is creating income opportunities for others in her community. Originally, she got her plantains from six local growers. She will soon double this number to 12. She has already hired two full-time employees, and has plans to hire two more.

Linares purchased a motorbike to widen the geographic range of her business’ delivery services. She also continues to expand Loma Alta’s sales, including selling door to door. Her goal for Loma Alta in the coming year is to increase sales by 20 percent.

Feed the Future helped Loma Alta obtain its company legalization documents, trademark registration and health license—enabling Linares and her husband to formalize the business and to market to larger retailers.  

The Linares family exemplifies the power of entrepreneurship. With their determination and some help from Feed the Future, they turned a small business into a thriving enterprise that turns locally-sourced raw materials into high-quality products.

To date, this Feed the Future project has worked with more than 4,200 small business clients, helping them develop product lines, improve processing efficiencies, and identify new markets to generate new income streams and employment opportunities across rural western Honduras.

The Feed the Future ACCESS to Markets project is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and implemented by Fintrac.

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