Malnutrition is one of the greatest barriers to the world’s poorest people escaping poverty. The 900 million people in Africa and Central America who eat corn daily are some of the most affected, with nearly half of Guatemala’s children suffering from stunted growth. Semilla Nueva launched the world’s first social enterprise dedicated to the development, production, and sale of more nutritious, biofortified corn seed directly to small farming families. Farmers buying our seed increase their yields and incomes, while improving the diets of hundreds of thousands— and someday millions—of the world’s poorest consumers by selling excess production. It is a scalable, sustainable way to give farming families what they most want, while providing malnourished children with what they most need. Our goal is to prove this model in Guatemala while improving the incomes of tens of thousands of families and the diets of millions of Guatemala’s poorest, before expanding the model throughout Central America and into Sub-Saharan Africa. At Semilla Nueva, we are obsessed with finding a way to do the unprecedented and achieve impact at scale.
In 2018, our first year of sales, our seed took 1.3% of the Guatemalan seed market with nearly 2,000 families purchasing. By 2020, we reached more than 10,000.
We are a hybrid social enterprise (our non-profit owns a for-profit company) of 27, mostly Guatemalan, staff. We work with some of the world’s leading scientists at organizations such as CIMMYT, HarvestPlus, INCAP, and universities like Purdue, Iowa State, Tufts, and Harvard. Our donors include some of the most prestigious in impact philanthropy, including Cartier Philanthropy, Mulago and the U.S. Government. Our seeds are based on conventional breeding (non-GMO), although we are not opposed to well-tested biotechnology. Our work has led to rapid growth and international recognition, including an Ashoka fellowship, Mulago fellowship, and Forbes 30 under 30 for our founder.
Our team shares a common background. Whether from the private sector or NGO world, we have seen that international development projects often fail because they do not focus on finding the intersection of what the world’s poorest want and what they most need. We are looking for new team members who are passionate about development programs that work, hungry for scale, and willing to put in the very hard work to make it happen.