Acceso Peanut Enterprise Corporation – Eric Carroll, Operations Manager
With several years of experience working with NGOs and a master’s degree in international political economy, one thing Eric Carroll had learned was that NGOs were good at spending funds, but not always delivering on their promises. Because of that, he was deliberate in selecting where he would work after grad school. A friend suggested he look into CGEP and shortly thereafter, Eric began his internship. During that time, CGEP’s fellowship program was developed and Eric became one of the first fellows, working with Acceso Peanut Enterprise Corporation (“Acceso”).
“I chose Haiti because it was one of the newer enterprises that CGEP had started and because everyone says [development in] Haiti is really challenging. I wanted to see how I could stack up against a challenge like that. I also wanted to learn a new language and have become nearly fluent in Haitian Creole.”
As a fellow, Eric was responsible for implementing Farmforce, a mobile platform to manage smallholder farming. He helped adapt the technology to fit Acceso’s needs on the ground and traveled to Acceso’s peanut aggregation depots to get staff acquainted with the software. His role then evolved into updating how the business used the technology such as generating peanut planting schedules.
As Eric’s fellowship came to an end, the need arose for an operations manager who would liaise between Acceso’s office in Port-au-Prince and field staff in the Central Plateau. Eric has now been in that role for one year. On a day-to-day basis, his job consists of helping field staff deliver services to farmers, overseeing harvest schedules and peanut deliveries, and liaising with country buyers such as Meds and Food for Kids. He also engages in capacity building to help field staff more efficiently complete their jobs.
“There have been challenging aspects of my job, like convincing farmers to use best practices [such as planting peanuts in rows]. Farmers have done some things in certain ways for generations so it is difficult to change those behaviors. However, I enjoy spending time with the farmers and understanding why it is so difficult. It’s like lessons on cultural sensitivity. I also enjoy working with the depot managers to increase their capacity and to teach them to treat each depot as their own small business.”
Eric has witnessed firsthand the stability that Acceso offers farmers. Farmers receive seeds, fertilizers, and fungicide they wouldn’t otherwise have access to which helps increase their yield. He is also proud of the fact that Acceso helps to diversify the farmers’ sources of income through new crops such as mango and castor.
“My dream for Acceso is that it is completely Haitian run. That is why I treat the capacity building of field staff so seriously… I have learned that Haiti being challenging has nothing to do with its people. The more independence we can give to our farmers to generate their own income so they are not dependent on NGOs, the better off they will be.”