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    Date submitted
  • 11-Sep-2017

Vicente Ferrer Foundation USA

Abstract

Vicente Ferrer Foundation (VFF) was started with a vision of helping the most vulnerable populations in India over 50 years ago. Since its inception, VFF the has embraced a whole-village approach emphasizing self-sufficiency. At the heart of the organization’s mission is to empower the people to build up their own communities; to break down centuries of ingrained discrimination; and to empower individuals to take charge of their own lives. VFF serves to identify and remove the barriers to progress. We consider our partners in rural India to be the main players in the process of their own improvement — India for India. The story of VFF is the story of action over words. VFF launched its United States office in 2015 (VFF USA) to grow awareness and support of its mission to the vital American audience.

To achieve our mission of eradicating extreme poverty and empowering rural communities, VFF dedicates itself to holistic development. We believe in being stewards of every dollar raised and spent. This means we aim to create highly effective, sustainable programs that not only tackle the symptoms of poverty such poor nutrition and disease, but also improve the underlying factors, including education, women’s empowerment, the environment, cultural development, and community health. We believe being a part of removing economic and social barriers in these marginalized communities opens the doors to a sustainable future where education, entrepreneurship, and social equality become the new societal norms, and finally break the cycle of extreme poverty.

Video

Original YouTube URL: Open

Introduction Video

Additional Questions

Who is your customer?

At the core, VFF USA is committed to advancing the interests of the rural Indian communities it serves. We believe achieving our commitments can be done through mutually beneficial partnerships that strengthen trade and opportunities between the US and India. To that end, we also have an interest in working with Corporations having interests in both countries; social impact investors seeking to add scale; and individuals who seek collaborative partnerships.

What problem does this idea/product solve or what market need does it serve?

VFF USA serves two communities- most notably we make grants to grassroots partners in India to support economic and community development, especially for women entrepreneurs, who have been traditionally marginalized and under-capitalized. For our partner organizations, we fill a void for people and organizations the US interested in social impact investing in India by providing them with an established organization with a track record of success in the region, while also being able to work with those organizations to craft unique grantmaking opportunities that align with their unique corporate values and objectives.

What attributes will make this idea/product successful? Why do you believe that those features will create success?

VFF partners with Rural Development Trust, and Indian organization that has 48 years of experience, yet the US office is a lean start up. Partnering with VFF USA allows companies access to a history of success with the efficiency and branding opportunity that comes with an emerging partner. Beyond this, what makes VFF USA truly unique is that grassroots community members (who are beneficiaries of grant programs) drive our decision making, implementation, and success. Our successful model of development that is run and managed by local community has a proven track record for sustainability.

Explain how you (your team) will execute to make this idea/product successful? What gives you (your team) an advantage over others already in the market or new to this market?

VFF USA and our partners in both Spain and India are in a unique position to bring the voices, ideas, and community directly to partners, investors, and collaborators. Today, my team’s focus is to ensure VFF USA continues to empower the most marginalized and impoverished communities in rural India. We serve to provide technical assistance and financial support that meets the demand of rural partners. Although we have several projects, one potentially transformative opportunity would allow rural farmers to add scale to agricultural commodities that have traditionally only been produced and consumed locally. We seek to open doors to national and export markets through new partnerships. One of the crops that has the greatest opportunity is ragi, a gluten free flour. Ragi is easy to bake with, high in protein and only available in specialty Indian markets in the US. Farmers in the region are often paid as little as .04 a pound for their ragi crops, although it sells for almost $17USD. We seek to not only strengthen the supply chain of the rural farmers but also to build their capacity in a way that creates jobs for the communities. We have much to learn about social enterprise for vulnerable communities. We want to ensure that the local communities are not priced out of their indigenous food and ensure best practices for local farmers. The ragi program will allow local farmers to broaden their horizons and become active participants in the global market place. The experiences and connections offered by GES would be a tremendous opportunity not just for me personally, but for the 3.5 million people who have benefited from our programs to date, and the millions more who stand to benefit in the future.