Rural Alternative Schools (ERA), Colombia

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Rural Alternative Schools (ERAs) are productive and educational collaboration platforms where private, public and community resources are used to promote sustainable rural development. With the support of its network of partners, PASO Colombia has been able to set up 22 ERAs throughout the country. Through the ERAs, peasant communities, ex-combatants in the process of reincorporation, victims of armed conflict, Venezuelan migrants, families that have voluntarily substituted illicit crops, private companies, public entities, non-governmental organizations and international organizations all work together.

These collaboration platforms develop production projects providing what they need to be financially viable and sustainable: land, knowledge, capital, work, and markets. In addition, ERAs also set the foundations to develop Collaborative Commercial Partnerships (CCPs). CCPs connect local producers with domestic and international markets, investors, and credit sources. These partnership networks reduce investment risk, ensure fair selling prices, guarantee and strengthen technical knowledge, develop social and business fabric, and strengthen governance for territorial peace.

Through the implementation of ERAs and their associated CCPs, a total of 2,350 jobs have been created. The ERAs have generated 1,532 permanent and 11 temporary jobs. CCPs have provided 807 jobs. In addition, USD $11,5 in trade agreements have been achieved, as well as significant cost savings through projects aimed at supporting food self-sufficiency.