Everardo Van Zoeler
This profile was prepared when Everardo Van Zoeler was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1991.
The New Idea
After the Mexican Revolution, during the Presidency of Lazaro Cardenas in 1934-40, Mexico expropriated most of the great haciendas and gave them to the ejidatarios. Today, about 3 million ejidatarios farm approximately half of Mexico's total agricultural territory, including some of its best irrigated and richest land. However, the conditions of most ejidatarios have deteriorated in the last 15 years, and new economic policies will not help them if they are not prepared to take advantage of the changes.Everard feels he can make the greatest contribution by helping ejido organizations understand the problems they face and aid them in developing their own agricultural and business strategies for the emerging competitive environment. Ejidos can also be helped to pursue effective strategies for influencing national policy. Accordingly, he and four colleagues are forming a non-profit consulting organization to provide such help to ejido organizations. This consultancy will advise ejidos on such issues as crop selection, investment, productivity enhancement, commercialization, and the establishment of business relationships. Rather than perform administration and marketing functions for the ejido organizations, they will help the ejido organizations develop their own capabilities in these areas. They will also aid in the design and establishment of new corporate entities needed at local, regional and national levels.This consulting organization is carefully designed to accomplish much more than an ordinary group of 5 professionals, however talented. To ensure that their organization is fully oriented toward and trusted by the ejido organizations, the board will include a number of the most outstanding ejido leaders. The consultancy has also engaged a council of advisors in order to draw on the most knowledgeable, progressive, and innovative people in the academic, political, and business worlds.The consulting organization is forced to charge a small fee to the ejido organizations in order to stay afloat. However, Everard is seeking additonal funding for special projects, and his group may do some contract work for government agencies.