Acceso El Salvador – Andres Baiza, General Manager
The far-reaching impacts Andres Baiza has produced as general manager for Acceso are felt in many ways, but most evidently, in the statistics. When Andres joined the enterprise in January of 2014, the popular Salvadorian supermarket Super Selectos imported about 90 percent of its produce. Now this figure has dropped significantly, and what remains is mostly due to the fact that common items like apples aren’t produced in El Salvador. So what is Andres’ role in all this success? Efficiently managing the local Acceso supply chain which sources fruits and vegetables from more than 300 farmers.
“If one guy falls down, the chain is broken. If the farmers forget to plant tomatoes or lettuce today, we know that in two months or five months, whenever the harvest is, we’re going to have problems. Some people think that we micromanage everything, but oversight is important. It is the only way to be successful.”
Although only 35 years old, Andres possesses extensive experience in managing agricultural production. He previously worked with coffee plantations and thereafter with a local company producing tomatoes, covering everything from growing the crops to distributing them to local markets or “figuring out how things worked,” as described by Andres. Apart from developing personal relationships and coordinating the activities of the business’s 102 employees, Andres’ duties include ensuring that products are delivered to buyers, reviewing financials, and also training producers to adopt improved farming practices. Andres believes it is critical to know when crops should be harvested and how they should be stored to satisfy a particular order. He also emphasizes the importance of keeping accurate records and maintaining farms in order. Thanks to Andres’ leadership and commitment, the business reached profitability ahead of schedule, within just 18 months,.
“What made the enterprise successful was that everyone was involved. That means knowing the business from the producers to the managers to those at the supermarket. You have to show people at every level of the business that you care. It is important to invest in people.”
Andres identifies the best part of his position as simply having the ability to change people’s lives.
“One of the things that amazes me is that when you give real opportunities to people, they grab them. They realize this is the time for them to change as producers. When they grab these opportunities, they see the changes, I see the changes.”
Andres’ dream is to have a trained network of producers that will enable Acceso to export produce by 2018.
“To have people come and say, we want you to produce 20,000 pounds of carrots, and for us to say ‘yes we can’. I want us to have a reliable network of small producers that can meet the demands of a variety of clients in several countries.”