Global Social Impact Initiative

Columbian "Tierra Grata" offers services with regards to water, sanitation and energy to rural families with the help of a non-interest credit. The interview has been conducted with Laura Perez, who is coordinator for communication and marketing at Tierra Grata.


1. What problem do you tackle? 
 
At Tierra Grata, we comprehensively address the fundamental challenges faced by rural communities in Colombia, focused on the lack of access to basic services such as energy, water and sanitation. The central problem facing the country is evidenced by statistics, where 4% of the population lacks energy coverage, 14% lacks access to water and 30% lacks sanitation services. We offer an innovative and sustainable solution, providing rural communities with access to clean energy, potable water and safe sanitation through decentralized, affordable and non-polluting solutions. The interest-free credit subscription model makes it easier for users to purchase these solutions, adapting monthly payments to their income. In addition, the social intervention program, supported by the Guardians team, seeks to build capacity within the communities, thus ensuring long-term sustainability by establishing management committees responsible for monitoring and repairing the installed solutions. We not only address the lack of access to essential services, but also focus on strengthening local capacities to ensure a sustainable impact on rural Colombian communities.
 
 
2. What is your approach?
 
Our approach is sequential and ranges from initial understanding of the context to post-implementation evaluation in Tierra Grata intervention projects. This process highlights the relevance of active community participation and effective feedback as key elements to measure the social impact of such projects. This sequential structure implies a methodology that follows a logical sequence of steps, ensuring a comprehensive understanding and continuous evaluation with special emphasis on constant interaction with the community involved.
 
 
3. How many people do you employ?
 
We currently employ a team of 8 people in the city of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. From this central location, we direct and coordinate our operations in the various communities in which we intervene. In addition, we have a valuable network we call Guardians, made up of members of the communities themselves, who play a fundamental role in providing direct support to the needs presented by users in their respective territories. This decentralized and committed network reflects our strategy of community involvement, allowing us to have a more significant impact adapted to local realities.
 
 
4. How much money do you need to solve the problem in the country you operate?
 
Solving the problem in the country that faces 4% of the population without energy coverage, 14% without access to water and 30% without sanitation services implies a collaborative and multifaceted approach. Given the diversity of the issues, it is not possible to determine a single figure to address all affected areas. Nonetheless, if you want me to make an estimation of the share of people in need we already support, it might be around 20%. If we wanted to scale up our approach nationwide, we might need an investment of about 2 - 5 million US$.
 
 
5. How much time would it take and what other ressources would be required?
 
Solving this problem in the country would require the implementation of strategic alliances with local governments and companies that share our vision and purpose. Close collaboration with these entities would be essential to address the challenges in a comprehensive and sustainable manner. This approach would leverage resources and expertise from both the public and private sectors, creating synergies that would enhance the impact of our initiatives. In addition, the alignment of objectives would facilitate the implementation of effective policies and projects to solve the problem at hand. However, considering the complexity of the collaborative processes and the implementation of large-scale solutions, it is estimated that the project would require at least 10 years to achieve significant results, considering the availability of all the necessary resources. This timeframe would allow for long-term planning, implementation and evaluation, ensuring a sustainable approach and lasting impact in solving the identified problem.
 
 
6. What would be the next steps, if you got the money for solving it nationally?
 
If we got an investment of some million dollar to scale up nationwide, we would invest it to buy materials for our solutions, do research in the communities in need and establish communication processes to look for the best practices, which suit to their situations. After communicating and cooperation is successful we would install the best solutions together with them. Upon securing the necessary funds to address the problem at the national level, the next crucial step would be the creation of specialized regional offices, which would play a key role in carrying out targeted interventions and generating direct impact from within communities. We would establish strategically located offices in various regions of the country, allowing for extensive coverage, tailored to local needs, and would act as focal points, working closely with communities to understand their unique challenges and design customized solutions. In addition, training and development programs would be implemented to strengthen local capacities, empowering communities to address their own problems in a sustainable manner. Monitoring and evaluation mechanisms would also be established to measure the impact of interventions and adjust them as needed. In summary, the creation of regional offices would be critical to ensure effective and sustainable intervention at the national level, comprehensively addressing the specific challenges of each community.
 

7. Contact information.
 
Email: Comunicaciones@tierragrata.org
Website: https://tierragrata.org/en/home
Phone: +57 311 4082298