Mar & Sol SAT is an inclusive business founded in Tumaco in 2009 with the aim of providing a solution to the social and commercial challenges that families and small associations were facing in the region. Producers were growing seafood but did not have a formal business that would buy and transform their production. Mar & Sol processes and markets locally grown seafood and shrimp generating employment for women victims of the armed conflict. The company was awarded in 2016 with the “Emprender Paz” award (Sida’s Innovation for Peace Challenge Fund for Colombia). 

We interviewed Bibian Reina, Director of Mar & Sol, who told us how the award helped them to “gain both visibility at national level and recognition for the company’s contribution to peace building and gender inclusion”. She told us that what they do is not business as usual but “social innovation” that it is bringing jobs, income and stability to a specific group – women victims of armed conflict violence. 

Challenge. It was found that female victims of violence had high rates of unemployment and their social condition of “victims” was affecting their opportunities to be employed in the formal sector. With the goal of creating more jobs for women, Mar & Sol was supported by “Emprender Paz” to carry out a market study of the shrimp and seafood sector at a national level that allowed the company to gain knowledge about the sector and to establish new commercial relationships. Increasing their client portfolio and diversity of products was essential in order to be able to increase sales. 

Impact. Currently, Mar & Sol’s social and economic driving values allows them to employ 244 women – 85% of them being victims of systematic violence generated by armed groups. These women found a stable source of income to provide quality of life to their families in the cultivation, processing, packing and commercialization of shrimp. 

The company is growing and working with a clear horizon to achieve long-term sustainability and benefit its members in a sustainable manner. In 2016, thanks to the technical assistance provided by the award, the marketing focus changed, the sale continued to wholesalers, but also the market of supermarkets and restaurants was explored. Their products are now sold in cities such as Bogotá, Medellín, Bucaramanga, Cali and Pereira in Colombia.

“The award allowed us to gain visibility at national level for the social work that we do with women in Tumaco. Despite the impasses of violence, we are building peace” 

– Bibian Reina, Director,  Mar & Sol SAT  

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