An order from a buyer from Martinique looking for lemons forever changed the path of Lizeth Correa's company, Tropic Kit, in Colombia.
Lizeth Correa was not going to sit idly by at the end of the passage of the shoe stores, where she worked after school. Her father, a footwear entrepreneur, sent Lizeth out because he knew she would try to attract buyers. That ability to ensure her sales is still with Lizeth. Still, now as an exporter for Tropic Kit, the company she founded with her husband, Jaime Ríos.
An English-speaking caller from Martinique asking for lemons, who even offered to pay in advance, was what changed Lizeth and Jaime's vision forever.
"That business is a fraud. No one would pay you 100% in advance. There are no such businesses in the world", Jaime warned her, believing that the call was a joke.
When the money did arrive through the Banco de Occidente, Lizeth went to Cauca, a guerrilla zone, to get the lemons. And with that first shipment, they celebrated their departure to other territories with Tropic Kit.
Tropic Kit grew very fast because of the variety of fruits that they export, such as yams, yucca, and plantain. However, they also faced challenges like non-paying customers and the global economic crisis of 2008. It wasn't until they dealt with an environmental crisis in Colombia and its impact on labor stoppages that Lizeth and Jaime reconsidered their strategy.
"There came a time for Tropic Kit when we had a customer base that requested products constantly. And we were failing to supply them for X or Y reasons," explains Lizeth.
LAC Flavors is one of the most important business meetings in the Food and Beverages sector in Latin America and the Caribbean for sellers and buyers. It is organized by the IDB through ConnectAmericas, the online platform that connects entrepreneurs from our region with the entire world.
On the eve of the celebration of LAC Flavors, the annual event of the food and beverage sector organized by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Lizeth planned to go as an exporter, but for the first time in the bank's history, she proposed to go as a buyer as well.
"This IDB exercise really woke us up by understanding Tropic Kit not only as a commercial entity but as an entity that participates in a production exercise. We want to get involved in every part of production: the integration of farmers, production and the transformation part," tell us Jaime Ríos and Lizeth at their home in Cali, Colombia.
LAC Flavors brings together sellers and buyers from all over Latin America and the Caribbean and is organized by the IDB through ConnectAmericas, the online platform that connects entrepreneurs from our region with the entire world.