Founded in 2001, Alas de Colombia is a refreshing sustainable BioTrade social business that does butterfly farming in order to create income for rural communities. In El Arenillo, Palmira city, Valle del Cauca (a district of Colombia), there are over 300 species of butterflies making it the apt location for the farming activities, which is run by poor women who lack alternative job opportunities.
Never heard of BioTrade? According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), "BioTrade is concerned with the production or collection and commercialization of goods and services that are derived from native biodiversity: the vast array of plants, species and organisms on our planet." In a way, it's like a fair trade stamp. Alas de Colombia meets the BioTrade criteria which obviously ups its credibility on the international markets and allows for bigger returns to the communities in which it works. Generally, the business exports to the U.S. as well as countries within Europe, creating value not only for those directly benefitting, that is, the farmers themselves, but also for the country's export market as a whole.
Alas de Colombia is run by Patricia and Vanessa Restrepo, a mother-daughter team who founded the business when they realized there was an area for growth in terms of butterflies at nature exhibits and wedding ceremonies.
"Instead of killing things all day, I'm raising living things that fly," said single mother Joana Martinez who used to slaughter chickens before she got a position at Alas de Colombia. "I can't imagine a better job."
Alas de Colombia website
Alas de Colombia on Facebook