Port Wings News Network:
The Organization of American States (OAS) recently awarded the Puerto Aguadulce-COMPAS Foundation with the coveted 2018 Maritime Award of the Americas in Social Responsibility for Sociedad Puerto Industrial de Aguadulce’s (SPIA) landmark initiative to uplift Colombians out of poverty.
The Foundation is the social responsibility arm of SPIA, a joint venture between International Container Terminal Services, Inc. and PSA International Pte. Ltd. at the Port of Buenaventura in Colombia.
SPIA bested other maritime gateways across the 35-nation OAS in North, Central, and South America, obtaining high scores for exhibiting best practices in social responsibility that produced measurable results and highly-sustainable impact.
The OAS Inter-American Committee on Ports cited SPIA’s leadership and commitment to sustainable development through its Emprendepaz Program, which supports local entrepreneurs and start-ups within the port’s hinterland communities in the Aguadulce Peninsula including three Black Community Committees (CCCN, in Spanish): Bajo Calima, Citronela and Córdoba-San Cipriano.
Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez, who lauded SPIA’s contributions to Colombia, said that the 2018 Maritime Award of the Americas “speaks of serious work – a commitment of the port not only to fulfill its commercial objectives, but to bring well-being to the entire community that surrounds them.”
Mr. Márquez adds: “A program like Emprendepaz is a fundamental tool in the search for equity, one of the pillars of our government. The possibility that community members can train and form their own ventures is the way to close the gaps that afflict our society and we can build a country with more opportunities for all.”
As a result and through the technical assistance of the Foundation, more than 385 families were integrated into the formal economy, creating 254 new jobs and 17 local startups during its implementation between November 2017 and April 2019. By promoting economic inclusivity, the program supported peace and reconciliation efforts within hinterland communities.
Of the 17 businesses that were created and/or strengthened through the program, five of them ventured into the service sector — five in agriculture, two in gastronomy, two in arts (music and dance), two in traditional craftsmanship, and one in retail. In addition, the program achieved another milestone after planting 132 additional acres of Chinese potatoes, banana and cocoa, a 60 percent increase prior to implementation.
“Since the beginning, we have worked hand in hand with the neighboring communities, understanding their specific necessities and letting them define their own priorities. This way, we have been able to contribute to the achievement of their goals and created opportunities for their sustainable development and growth,” said Miguel Arturo Abisambra, SPIA General Manager.
The Puerto Aguadulce-COMPAS Foundation has invested more than COP700 million to empower its hinterland communities through its Emprendepaz program. Aside from SPIA, it received support from the United States Agency for International Development through ACDI–VOCA, a Washington-based nonprofit organization, and the Fishing and Farming Association of Pichidó.
Moreover, SPIA extends its social work in Colombia through a partnership with COMPAS S.A. (Associated Ports Corporation) to enable the Foundation to reach more communities in the country.