Our second full week in San Salvador saw a continuation of meetings with key industry participants. By this point the focus of our meetings had shifted.
Instead of just learning about the industry and each player’s role in it, we were now validating information we had previously received from others,
seeking either reinforcement, clarification, or occasionally differing perspectives.
Here we are meeting with the president of a state-supported bank, who walked us through his views regarding lending to the coffee sector.
We also met with a range of coffee farmers and cooperatives. The “co-ops” are collections of farmers designed to achieve some economies of scale and
diversify individual production risk.
Some co-ops are large and fairly successful.
However some are small and struggling to stay solvent.
In this context, maintaining solvency isn’t just a matter of preserving financial strength. It also means preserving an ability for the coffee farmers to
buy food, buy fertilizer (critical for the coffee trees), hire labor and still make debt repayments…or risk losing their farms to the banks.
During the week ahead, Scott and I plan to outline our key findings thus far and arrange follow-up meetings to help answer additional questions and
validate our views.
On a lighter note, we were able to get out of San Salvador on Saturday to enjoy some sun and surf at a popular nearby beach town, El Tunco. It was a nice
contrast to our urban home away from home, San Salvador.