Plantain flour factory in Ecuador
Equipping a Compassion centre in Ecuador to provide income-generation opportunities
While Echeandía, Ecuador, is a community rich in natural resources, it lacks infrastructure and training to turn those resources into reliable sources of income for families facing poverty. Caregivers are thankful for Compassion’s local church partner, which has been focusing on holistic child development since 2014—providing medical checkups, home visits, nutritious meals and evangelism. And yet, poverty is still the daily reality in many beneficiary homes without a steady source of income.
About 70 per cent of parents manage to survive by planting and harvesting plantains, but a large quantity of the product does not meet the standards required for export. While the rejected produce could be converted into flour and sold, there were no local resources to establish a factory. As a result, enormous amounts of this valuable resource were going to waste—leaving parents unable to get ahead economically and keeping the next generation stuck in poverty.
In response, Sublime Gracia Church of the Nazarene proposed an opportunity to launch a plantain flour factory to provide employment for parents, both directly in the factory and indirectly by purchasing their plantains at a fair price. Extra income generated from selling the flour will go directly to the local Compassion Child Development Program so the church can release more even more children from poverty and reach them with the hope of the gospel.
Thanks to your generous love in action, we are thrilled to share that the local church in Echeandía successfully completed building their new plantain flour factory in August 2022. The factory has all the equipment—including sinks, a three-burner stove, tables, a dehydrator and a grinder—to process plantains into flour. By November 2022, church leaders and caregivers had completed training to learn best practices in harvesting and processing plantains to achieve top quality flour that can be sold for a profit.
Pandemic quarantine measures and a nationwide labour strike greatly delayed the intervention, so it was necessary to revise the budget to hire skilled labour to complete construction, with the church covering the extra costs.
A beacon of hope in the community, the plantain factory was built to last using quality materials such as stone, cement, blocks, wire and a metal and zinc roof. The factory is 200 square metres in total, with most of the floor space dedicated to plantain flour production machines. The remaining area includes washrooms, a reception room, two offices and a warehouse to store the product.
Although church leaders were diligent in researching and following requirements for obtaining permits and registering and opening the factory with local authorities, it was a much more involved legal process than anticipated. This lengthy process incurred additional costs, which have been assumed by the church—but new information has resulted in a change of schedule to open and register the factory. In addition, the sanitary registry authority requires periodic evaluations of the factory.
With optimism and determination, the church has carried out the training and is ready to start production tests and officially start selling their product in compliance with local laws as soon as they receive the go-ahead. As the local church eagerly anticipates employing caregivers and training Compassion-assisted youth to generate a reliable household income, they are committed to keeping both you and the National Office up to date on their progress.
Factory construction: The church rented several construction machines to clear the building site and construct the factory. Caregivers volunteered to help the skilled workers build the floors, columns and roof. The church also contributed materials and transportation.
Washroom facilities: Skilled labourers constructed washrooms in the factory, complete with ceramic tiles, four toilets, two urinals and a water pump. Workers installed windows, doors and iron bars over the glass for security.
Inside the factory: The new meeting room inside the factory provides a great view of the factory interior and plantain processing equipment. Workers installed stainless steel shelves to store the finished product in the warehouse area.
Training: A professional industrial engineer trained church leaders in how to produce plantain flour in the factory. Caregivers learned best practices for plantain cultivation, taught by a professional agronomist.
Your Gift Provides...
• Construction of a factory to manufacture plantain flour, including:
○ Land filling and adaptation
○ Construction machinery
○ 2 hydraulic manual hoists, 6 plastic stevedores and 1 electric power generator
○ Building materials including brick, cement, iron and sand
○ Electrical wiring
○ Sanitary unit including 4 toilets, 2 urinals and 1 water pump
○ Platform for unloading raw materials and shipping finished product
• Office furnishings and computer equipment
• Professional technical training in agriculture for caregivers through at least 3 seminars
• First-month production expenses, including:
○ Legal authorizations
○ Human talent
○ Raw materials
ReportA message from those your gift helped
Before this intervention, I thought that nobody paid attention to me, nor that they were interested in me. I felt very sad and forgotten. Now I feel happy—all my friends and me—because we have a place to learn about God and His Word, a place where they pay attention to us and teach us valuable things for our lives in the future. They take us into account even when we are small.
This new plantain factory means we will have a place to learn and a job to help our families because sometimes we don’t have enough money and life is difficult.
I have learned that God cares how we eat and how we take care of our bodies. God is our provider, and He will help us through hard times. God has perfect plans for each one of us.
Thank you very much, beloved donors, for thinking of us and our families. We are blessed with your help.
ReportThank you for your generosity
Thank you for equipping the local church in Echeandía to expand the reach of their children’s ministry by increasing their capacity to generate sustainable economic resources through the establishment of a plantain flour factory. Thanks to the new plantain factory you helped build in Echeandía, parents have real hope for the future, and children will experience freedom from poverty as they grow up to become all God created them to be.
Despite continuous challenges and an extended process, the church has faithfully complied with all objectives regarding construction and training. Due to sanitary and registry legalities, the factory has not yet officially opened, but once we have obtained the proper permits, the church is eager for beneficiary children and youth to learn the flour processing and production—observing their hard-working parents and gaining future marketable skills for themselves.
So far, 100 parents have participated in three technical agricultural training sessions thanks to the expertise of an agronomist engineer. Parents are excited to put their learnings into practice and are better equipped to apply new tools to manage and care for their crops. Church leaders have completed their training on how to produce plantain flour, so they are ready to support the new employees once the factory is allowed to open. The original goal was to employ 25 caregivers of beneficiaries, while also purchasing plantain harvested at a fair price from caregivers in the Echeandía community. Currently, the factory can support three caregivers but as production and revenue grow, we hope that more caregivers will soon find steady employment at the new factory. Discussions have already been held with parents to establish a standard price.
With God’s help, the church has overcome many obstacles throughout the three-year intervention—and has learned valuable lessons along the way, like how to trust God when launching a business of this magnitude. Throughout a challenging yet rewarding process, the church has learned that it is important to never give up, even when all factors are against you. They recognize that perseverance and trust in God are key to success. Teamwork and planning were also big takeaways. The church also learned the importance of carrying out in-depth research on even small details to reduce errors and avoid delays.
Local pastor Alexander says, “It has been a process of many challenges, but a manifestation of God’s power since He has provided the resources to fulfill our goal. We are giving our best effort to fully achieve the execution of the banana flour factory. As a church we are committed to this endeavour since it is our goal to generate a steady source of work for families in urgent need.” As people have come to recognize the local church as a trusted source of true help and hope, the church has been thankful for this public opportunity to share God’s love with families. As anticipation for the plantain factory opportunity has grown over the past three years, it has stirred hope in the community, with many parents, children and youth benefiting from the process.
Thank you for believing in this church and investing in these families to bring financial security and freedom so children can be freed from the heartbreaking cycle of poverty. With your generous support, caregivers in Ecuador will soon be able to earn a dignified, sustainable income from the plantain flour factory so they can provide for their children’s daily needs. Thank you for restoring hope to families living in poverty so they can work toward a brighter future.
ReportA message from a centre director
Your gift of the plantain factory has created hope and caregivers are looking forward to beginning the process of learning how to make plantain flour. Young participants and caregivers have received technical training in the preparation of plantain flour. The community and parents see how the church is working for the economic well-being of families in the community. They recognize the church as an entity that cares about them in all aspects of their lives.
This factory is a breakthrough in terms of creating sources of work to involve youth and parents. The church has become a trusted resource for Echeandía. The intervention has led us to extend ourselves, to think in ways that we had not previously thought about the kingdom of God and to learn valuable lessons. Our community will be positively impacted as jobs are created over time and a healthy and affordable product will be made available.
The creation of the plantain factory has created a high level of trust and commitment. Beneficiaries and caregivers trust the church, which has not been easy to achieve. However, this intervention has made a notable difference as it constitutes solid proof that the church is in this community to help in every aspect and contribute to children’s holistic development.
We offer our immense gratitude to our dear donors for your generous help, as well as for your patience and understanding throughout the whole process. The trust you have placed in us is of great value. Therefore, we are managing very wisely the resources given to us for this venture. May God continue blessing and prospering you in every area of your lives. Many hugs to you.