Photo by Alejandro Ortiz on Unsplash

Helping smallholder farmers get better access to global markets.

This new startup is helping to sustainably feed the world.

Bret Waters
2 min readMar 2, 2021


Smallholder farms produce 80% of the world’s food supply, and yet the families who run them often barely make a living wage.

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 2 calls for the world to achieve food security and promote sustainable agriculture, but this isn’t going to happen unless we help smallholder farms around the world to improve their livelihoods so that they can make investments into their farms and processes.

An entrepreneur in Colombia, Carole Prouteau, is working to help solve this problem. Her startup, AIA, is helping small farmers to better access global markets and get better prices for their products.

The essential problem is that the supply chain from Latin American farmers to consumers in the US and Europe is complex and convoluted, with far too many middlemen. As a result, farmers have very little bargaining power when it comes to pricing a harvest. They sell it at whatever price they can, and most of the profit margin gets sucked-up by all the middlemen.

Carole’s startup solves this problem with a platform designed to connect producers with buyers directly. A coffee roaster in Berlin can use the platform to buy high-quality coffee beans direct from a Colombian farmer. And a Chef in Chicago can use it to fresh, organic ingredients direct from Colombian producers. The buyer gets direct access to better quality products, and the producer gets a better price.

Colombia, of course, is one of the largest coffee producers in the world, and the country also is a leading producer of bananas, rice, cocoa beans, oilseed, and more. So it’s a logical starting point for Carole’s startup, but the venture has room to scale throughout Latin America and beyond.

There is no more important problem to solve than feeding the world. To do that we need to help smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods and improve the incentives for them to use sustainable methods. Carol’s new startup, AIA, is helping to make that possible.



Bret Waters

Silicon Valley guy. Teaches at Stanford. Eats fish tacos.