can bananas really build schools?   

meet francis bruderer. entrepreneur, farmer and owner of the finca blanca banana farm in guatamala. five years ago, francis realised that throughout his production, about 5% of his bananas were going to waste. and just like us, francis hates waste. especially since these bananas were still perfectly good and eatable, but unfortunately not beautiful enough to be sold at the local fruit markets. so, when francis met the people behind tropilight, he pitched his idea straight away: let’s put these perfectly good (but maybe not so beautiful) bananas to use by making them into puree – great tasting puree which can then be exported. ever since that day, francis has been supplying his ‘waste’ to tropilight with great success for both parts.

as you can probably tell, francis is a man who has always strived to do whatever he can to contribute to a healthy and sustainable development of the escuintla region. he currently employs around 3500 people and has built something rather impressive – a cooperative where all his employees unite to become better and stronger. within the farm you’ll find a bakery, a few small shops, a health clinic (where amongst others, they also do courses in malaria and hiv prevention), a pharmacy and a school – in which all the farmers children aged 4 to 14 can attend classes (their parents only have to pay 10% of the school fees, the rest is paid for by the farm). although most of the kids will follow in their parents’ footsteps and become farmers, those who aspire to gain further education by going to university, will receive as much financial support from the farm as possible. all in all, this is a close knit and extremely well-functioning community, where one good thing leads to the next.

but it doesn’t stop there. francis is also the founder of the ‘association of independent banana workers’ – an organisation located in guatemala city, which aims to increase the rights of the banana workers in the political world. it also strives to strengthen the human rights, social rights and labour rights at the farms, as well as offering teaching programs about hiv prevention and stigmatisation.