Acopio, a social venture that translates from the Spanish as “harvest,” picked up the $10,000 first-place prize in the Big Ideas scaling-up category, which helps previous contest winners advance existing projects. The information technology-based, development venture aims to improve the circumstances of rural, small-hold coffee farmers and cooperatives in Latin America.
Led by Berkeley graduate students Ariel Chait, Paul Goodman and Iris Shim, the team is developing cost-effective data-management tools designed to enhance the business operations of farmers, strengthen their influence and increase access to finance and markets. The students identified a key challenge to small coffee growers: information. They software helps track details about the coffee growers’ harvests and business transactions, replacing a hodgepodge of paper-based records and countless handwritten receipts. The software runs on PCs and mobile phones, and the team has designed a data workflow that does not rely on connectivity, as Internet connectivity is often unreliable in the locations where the coffee growers work.
Chait and Goodman are both second-year students in the School of Information’s Master of Information Management and Systems program; Shim is an MBA student in the Haas School of Business.