On the ground with Buen Manejo del Campo

Serena Sonderegger, an Analyst in our San Francisco office, shares insights from her first field visit

My first field visit was a whirlwind of an experience, through which I was able not only to understand our client’s operations in detail, but also see ICSF’s process and the value we provide to our clients.

Buen Manejo del Campo (BMC) provides high-quality, low-cost biodigesters—in addition to high-touch follow-up services—to small farms in Mexico. BMC’s patented “Sistema Biobolsa” biodigesters use anaerobic digestion to process animal waste and water into nutrient-rich fertiliser and biogas.

The “field visit” is a core piece of ICSF’s process; we conduct both site visits and in-person workshops with our partners in order to analyse on-the-ground operations and develop a strategy and model for scale. Thus, we had traveled to Mexico not only to eat tacos with BMC’s team, but also to learn more about BMC and co-develop a replication model for systematically scaling the social enterprise.

Our first day in Mexico began at a BMC distribution site in Puebla, an agricultural centre outside of Mexico City. It was my seventh day with ICSF and although I had read extensively about BMC and helped to develop materials for our trip, I was still unsure what the next few days had in store.

Upon arrival at the distribution site, we realised that none of the staff spoke English and I would thus be conducting all of the interviews in Spanish. As a brand new analyst this proposed a challenge, but at the same time was an incredibly exciting opportunity. My colleagues Cho and Greg helped guide my questions as I surveyed BMC’s staff about what the company meant to them and what impact it had had on their lives — which, in every case, was substantial.

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