A team of Cambridge University students in the UK won the McKinsey Innovate 2012 social enterprise competition with a solution to help small tomato farmers in Mexico improve yields.The Ethical Tomato Company won the annual £5,000 ‘seed’ funding prize for UK university students sponsored by global management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company.
Chemical engineer Pedro Zaragoza presented the proposal in the final at The Commonwealth Club, London.
The Ethical Tomato Co. presented an innovative solution to actively address a number of problems facing small‐scale tomato farmers in Mexico.
The company plans to provide farmers with access to sustainable technologies that will significantly increase yields whilst forming partnerships to reduce waste along the value chain and equitably share profits.
The team comprises four postgraduate students of the Engineering for Sustainable Development masters programme at Cambridge University. The team of friends have been working to develop the business plan since February, drawing on elements of their taught programme and professional experience throughout Europe and Latin America.
Zaragoza said: “We were up against teams with some great ideas, and it’s fantastic to have won. This has been an incredible journey for the team and we are very grateful to have had the support of McKinsey during the past month in developing our ideas.
“We are all really excited about taking the next steps to implement our ideas as a social enterprise.”
The Ethical team plans to use the ‘seed’ funding to undertake a pilot study in Michoacán, Mexico, before involving investors and scaling up the business
The Cambridge team comprises Pedro Zaragoza, chemical engineer, who is from Mexico; compatriot Jorge Garcia Moreno, a biomedical engineer; Stephanie Hirmer, a civil engineer from Germany and Daniel Gallagher, a civil engineer from Scotland.
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Pedro Zaragoza with the winners’ cheque