The Amazon rainforest is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world and has over 40,000 plant species! There are thousands of plants and trees that produce edible fruits and can be used for medicine, lumber, and artisan goods. Most Amazonian products have not been commercialized. However, cacao and guayusa leaf tea are two up-and-coming, major exports that are cultivated by local farmers in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
Interns work with an association of indigenous farmers who implement social enterprise models to preserve their traditional forms of agriculture, protect the environment through sustainable agriculture, and enter viable markets to sell their finished products. This is a unique opportunity for motivated, enthusiastic interns to learn about the intersections of ancestral knowledge, environmental sustainability, and social entrepreneurship and how they relate to cultural identity and income-generation projects.
- Work with an association of indigenous cacao farmers who produce chocolate for national and international distribution
- Live with one of the farmers or a local farmer who produces cacao in a rural community and support them with planting and harvesting, depending on the season
- Learn about social impact marketing, sustainability, Fair Trade and organic certifications, agroforestry, and the production of chocolate from cacao plant to final product
- Contribute to market research about new local products and how to introduce them into bigger markets [e.g. guayusa leaf tea and vanilla]
- Research & dissertation support available with partner organizations and universities, if requested