PDCF Partners with the University of Puerto Rico

Paloma del Carmen Fund is sponsoring an agribusiness student competition to foster entrepreneurial growth with seed money prizes of $5,000, $4,000 and $3,000.

Javier E. Perez LaFont, professor of agribusiness, University of Puerto Rico at Utuado

In 2020, we are broadening our services, which currently include disaster relief and micro-lending, to include education. We are excited to announce that our first educational initiative will be in partnership with the University of Puerto Rico at Utuado and popular agribusiness professor Javier E. Perez LaFont, known for his dedication to students and his enthusiasm for sparking innovative ideas.

"Agriculture is a fundamental activity in the economic development of the entire country. It constitutes a source of foods, fibers, employment, and raw materials, and ensures Puerto Rico’s food safety. The Paloma del Carmen Fund, recognizing this reality, has developed and sponsored a student competition that we think is a fantastic investment in our future agro-business leaders." – Dr. Javier E. Perez LaFont

With Dr. Perez LaFont's help, the Paloma del Carmen Fund has created a competition that we hope will recruit, support, and shape Puerto Rico's next wave of agricultural entrepreneurs. This competition is one of many tactics that we're deploying to build food security on the island, as well as incentivize environmentally and socially responsible agribusiness.

Professor Perez LaFont with some of his agribusiness students

It's important to note that many of Puerto Rico's most promising young people emigrate from the island to live in locations with stronger economies and better job opportunities. If we're going to revitalize Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, we must incentivize young people to stay on the island. Our competition aims to do just that.

We've named the competition"Agrorreto" — a mash up of the Spanish words "agricultura" and "rreto" (meaning challenge). During the month of March, students will submit a business plan for an agribusiness product or service targeted to a specific consumer segment. We will judge the plans based on the following criteria:

  • Viability

  • Innovation

  • Social responsibility

  • Sustainability

  • Scalability

  • Promotion of fair trade commerce

Then, on April 4th, the students must pitch their plans in front of an audience at the 35th Annual Tierra Adentro Festival, which is sponsored by the University of Puerto Rico at Utuado and celebrates all things agricultural.

University of Puerto Rico in the municipality of Utuado

The three students with the best business plans will be announced at the festival and will be awarded seed money to develop their product or service. The top prize will be $5,000, second prize $4,000, and third prize $3,000.

The University of Puerto Rico at Utuado will complement the awarded seed money by providing the winners with support from its professional kitchen and marketing department.

We will announce the winners of the competition and provide progress updates from each student here on our website.

If you or your company would be interested in helping us sponsor the 2020 competition, or future competitions, please reach out via ContactUs@palomadelcarmenfund.org.