Project overview

Ancestral Markets is a marketplace that aims to connect indigenous and Afro-Colombian peoples with urban communities around nutrition, with the purpose of trading ethically produced food and safeguarding ancestral knowledge.

The problem

Indigenous and Afro-descendent communities in Colombia are at risk of losing their cultural heritage and struggle to guarantee their right to food. Factors such as violence and internal displacement, inequality, and indirect pressure to adopt Western food production and nutritional habits, jeopardize their traditions. As these challenges expand in the country, communities themselves, especially younger generations, disregard their ancestral ways of living as they perceive low incentives to keep them alive.

The solution

Ancestral Markets is a digital marketplace inspired by the old trading points or physical indigenous ancestral markets. These places combined knowledge sharing and food produce trade to ensure the transfer of knowledge and ways of living across generations, rather than just restricting itself to a market whose sole purpose is to buy and sell produce and commodities. The platform seeks to provide opportunities to systematically rescue and bring to fruition in a more sustainable and meaningful manner the available ancestral knowledge linked to food security and nutrition in the country. What makes it unique from other solutions, is that it helps translate the rich community’s cultural heritage and values into sustainable income-generating opportunities through a marketplace innovation.

Products at the Ancestral Markets

Participating communities can showcase: 1) nutritious food produce for sale; 2) harvest opportunities; and 3) knowledge-share products or knowledge-recovery projects

In turn, urban users can 1) buy available food produce; 2) kickstart a harvest; and 3) fund knowledge-recovery exercises or purchase knowledge-related products such as biodiversity catalogs or digital ancestral recipe books.

Communities in remote rural areas
Direct beneficiaries and 1,500 indirect beneficiaries
Expected community income increase
The way forward

The Ancestral Markets team will pilot the first version of the prototype, combining food produce trade, harvest, and knowledge exchange to increase customer demand from ethnic communities’ produce with seven indigenous and Afro-descendent communities in Colombia. The goal is to gather the insights to expand the solution to 52 communities for 2021-2022, benefiting 25,000 people in Colombia and Ecuador, and then to seven countries in Latin America with an estimated projection of 168,000 people who are part of ethnic communities.

Meet the team

Damián Pachón
Damián Pachón
WFP Resilience and Livelihoods Programme Officer (Project Leader)
Juliana Zárate
Juliana Zárate
Social Innovation and Market Entry Expert, MUCHO Colombia
Juan Felipe Sánchez Barrera
Juan Felipe Sánchez Barrera
WFP Project Manager
Margalida Rueda
Margalida Rueda
WFP Expert in Field Activities with Ethnic Communities
Jimena Martínez
Jimena Martínez
Product Manager, MUCHO Colombia
Last updated: 25/10/2023