Josefina F. Bruni-Celli EN
IESA Business School Venezuela
The Paria Project Foundation (FPP, for its Spanish acronym) is a nonprofit that promotes the overall development of rural communities in the Paria Peninsula, a very poor area in Northeastern Venezuela. FPP intends to drive social changes, fostering partnerships among farmers to accomplish greater leverage. However, in doing so, FPP failed to anticipate a number of cultural, social and political hurdles. As a result, its programs have been threatened by severe problems. Such was the fate of FPP’s cocoa program. A political culture characterized by clientelism and trading favors for political support nearly thwarted this program.
In late 2001, FPP finished building an institutional scheme intended to bring new life to the cocoa economy in order to enhance farming communities’ income. At the center of this scheme, CARIOCA, a civil association built by five producer associations (50%), FPP (30%), and EMER, a business company (20%), focused on cocoa production and marketing. In its first year, CARIOCA exported 100 tons of cocoa, but, in late 2004, a new development jeopardized not only its survival but also FPP’s very existence. Urged by local politicians, the leaders of all five grower associations tried to seize total control of CARIOCA. The characters described in this case faced a dilemma, as they had to choose whether to withdraw from CARIOCA or to try to recover its control. They also needed to formulate a long-term strategy to ensure FPP’s continuity in Paria.
This case may be used in courses on corporate social responsibility, NGO and social venture management, intended for both social development specialists and managers at large. For social development practitioners, this case is particularly helpful to ponder their own experiences. For managers who are inexperienced in these matters, this case provides an opportunity to discuss corporate social responsibility, showing the complexities involved in social change promotion and organizational management in adverse settings.