Acopio winners with contest sponsors
Balloons, a certificate, and, oh yes, ten grand: the Acopio team is awarded the Big Ideas “Scaling Up” Grand Prize by contest sponsors Virginia and Andrew Rudd.  The students are Iris Shim, on the left, and Ariel Chait and Paul Goodman on the right.

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.