“Bienvenidos a mi pueblo” (Welcome to my village) program, is under implementation in Colonia Belgrano, the selected village in Argentina for the pilot project

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Argentina has approximately 43 millions inhabitants, of whom, more than 92% live in cities. This is one of the major disproportions in rural-urban population in the world, as alerted by the ONU.  (*)

Country:                         Argentina

Province:                        Santa Fe

Name of village:             Colonia Belgrano

Project Number:             2015 / AR01

 

In the last decades, fast growing cities such as Buenos Aires, Rosario and Cordoba have seen immigration levels outpass infrastructure pace of development, and can ignite violence. The stream of families coming from rural areas to major cities is a trend not yet reversed. According to the Argentinian statistics national index, 11 million people in the country live in poverty. Most of the poorest population dwells in slums around fast growing cities, where children lack education, families suffer high unemployment, there is a lack of basic infrastructure (no sanitation, clean water, etc.); factors that combined can ignite violence. According to the assessment undertaken by the NGO Responde, one of the subsidiary partners of ES VICIS in Argentina, nearly 100 villages had disappeared by the year 2012. The prognosis of this NGO at that time (2012) was that 40% of the small villages in Argentina, with fewer than 500 people, were at an extreme risk of disappearing. Unfortunately, within the last 3 years, this prognosis has become a reality.

Selection of Santa Fe province: Santa Fe has 312 villages, of which 90% are decreasing in population. Santa Fe has two major cities, Santa Fe city and Rosario. The latter is one of the most violent and fast growing cities in Argentina – see BBC article  (**)

Colonia Belgrano, the village in Santa Fe, as a pilot village in Argentina: After 4 visits aiming the exploration of regions and villages in Santa Fe with social and economic growth potential (Aug 2014-May 2015), the village Colonia Belgrano, has been selected (July 2015) as a pilot project village for the implementation of the program “Bienvenidos a mi pueblo”. The program started in January 2016.

Potential for economic growth: Colonia Belgrano has an extraordinary social and economic potential with a wide range of food production industries, field machinery as well as a variety of agricultural productions. Its social capital: It includes numerous associations and offers many activities. For example, once a week, the youth club meets in the central square for an outdoor screening of a film they have chosen. Each year, the whole village works together to prepare the celebration of the Brislet o Bricelet, in commemoration of the arrival of the first settlers.

Quality of life: The village is safe and has a good infrastructure including schools (primary and secondary), sports clubs, and homes for the elderly. Medical care and pharmacy are also available around the clock and people have access to a public hospital and various private care centres 26 km away.

Ready to grow with the program: the community’s main goal is to address the problem they are facing for decades: the migration of their own young people to other cities, against their wishes, due to the limited local market. School-teachers, family doctors, lawyers, accountants, qualified technicians among others, find no place in their own hometown due to the lack of population. The village expressed and formalized its interest in welcoming newcomers that can develop entrepreneurial activities in a near future and has also enough urbanized plots of lands (water, electricity, gas) available to receive nearly 50 families. As well, Colonia Belgrano counts with mechanism to make financial resources available for entrepreneurs to develop their businesses (local micro credit institutions).

 

 

 

The program “Bienvenidos a mi pueblo” and the Phases of ES VICIS

Phases 4 & 5 are the description of the program “Bienvenidos a mi pueblo” itself. Indeed, the Pilot Project and other future selected communities in the scale up phase of the program, are the visible part of the program “Bienvenidos a mi pueblo” consisting of three steps that take place within the phases 4-5 of the model of ES VICIS, as follows:

Phase 4

Step 1. Discovering community and regional opportunities. Deep study to identify economic resources, business opportunities, social profile of the community and development potential of the village and region.

Step 2. Getting ready. Identifying and gathering entrepreneurs with a family group willing to migrate and live in the village, with enough knowledge and abilities that would allow them to develop those economic opportunities in the community. They also receive training for the development of a business plan to start the project, with credit lines, mentorship, and additional support to build a house of their own, as outlined in step 3.

Phase 5

Step 3. Implementing. The families’ migration process takes place at the same time as each business is established and begins its activities. At this stage, families are organized and offered guidance in groups for building their own houses along with the other selected families. The mentorship for the new businesses takes place during the following 6 months in an intense manner, followed by a less intensive period of another 6 months. To ensure a successful integration, families will be accompanied during an additional 6 months after the construction of their houses is completed.

 

 Results of the program in Argentina  (Phase 4, 5 and 6)

          Village (i) “Village Support Commission” for the programme “Bienvenidos a mi pueblo” in Colonia Belgrano is constituted. Colonia Belgrano inhabitants are ready to show the world the Value of their village. (ii) Thorough research was undertaken (Jan-May 2016) to identify concrete opportunities and potential for the development of sustainable businesses that can be established in the village to respond to local as well as regional demand. The research focused on a broad range of areas such as detecting business opportunities or for the development of crafts for individual enterprises or of cooperatives in the case of more complex entrepreneurships. As result we arrived at following status:
The village has discovered its huge potential.
It has also become aware of the needs and challenges it faces to grow.
It received a report with concrete results listing its niches and opportunities with the type of businesses that could be developed in the village.
          Business
The entrepreneurs make use of this information on opportunities to initiate their own projects. The beneficiaries at the level of businesses (entrepreneurs) are distinguish in three categories: 1. Village´s entrepreneurs 2. Newcomer entrepreneurs + families (in need of credit support for business + housing) 3. Pull-effect Entrepreneurs (with no need for capital) invest themselves to stablish their businesses and houses
1. category of beneficiaries, the local entrepreneurs : 14 entreprepreneurs of the village has presented their businesses ideas and 6 received trainings (Oct-Dec), which focused on the development of their business plans.
2. category of beneficiaries, the low-income families coming from fast-growing cities : more than 20,000 families expressed  interest in moving to the village, of which 1,200  were recruited, and 34 were finally selected after an interview process. These 34 entrepreneurial families received trainings (Oct-Dec), which were focused on the development of their business plans and skills to build their homes. Among the best positioned to match the village opportunities, 20 families has been selected. The actual move to the village is planned to be completed by the end of 2017, however the process of migration already started with the migration of the first family to a rented house in the village. Rural exodus trend is reversed in Colonia Belgrano since Dec 2016!
3. category of beneficiaries, families inspired to change their lives: more than 40 families with entrepreneurial activities and own capital are applying to our program (pull effect) and are willing to migrate to Colonia Belgrano with a start up business.
          Housing
Financing for the 20 housing for the 2. Category of beneficiaries is secured.
Plots of lands for more than 40 families and business are in the process to be ready for construction
Sustainable Prototype: An ES VICIS collaborator, a firm of Swiss architects “Richter – Dahl & Associés architects”, is currently offering advice to the Directorate of Housing and Urban Development of the Santa Fe province that is developing a sustainable housing prototype for the ES VICIS program.
         Replicability ES VICIS is currently working on a medium size replicability of the programme (up to 15 villages) in Santa Fe province. The National Government is willing to replicate the pilot project Colonia Belgrano in other 90 villages of 6 provinces in Argentina.

 

Additional Information

http://esvicis.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Bienvenidos-a-mi-pueblo_-10-preguntas-clave-para-entender-el-proyecto.pdf

(*) Links: 11 Mio people in poverty: (http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1810504-crecio-la-pobreza-en-la-argentina-y-afecta-a-11-millones-de-personas) (ii) 2012 900 villages at risk of disappearing Responde: http://www.todoagro.com.ar/noticias/nota.asp?nid=13578 (iii) 800 villages at risk: http://www.clarin.com/rural/expoagro/pueblos-gente-desaparecieron_0_659934067.html  ONU alert Argentina 92% of population living in cities : http://www.clarin.com/sociedad/Argentina-gente-vive-ciudades_0_580742004.html

(**) Links: Rosario, in the province of Santa Fe, is one of the most violent cities in Argentina. BBC news: http://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias/2014/04/140415_rosario_violencia_narco_argentina_irm (ii) 10% of villages growth : http://www.todoagro.com.ar/noticias/nota.asp?nid=13578