Jose Manuel Moller

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2014


This profile was prepared when Jose Manuel Moller was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2014.
The New Idea
José Manuel Moller is revitalizing neighborhoods in the most disconnected, isolated areas on the edges of Santiago, the majority of which do not have access to fairly priced or quality groceries. By working through local grocery stores, his organization Algramo (“By the Gram”) partners with grocers to reorganize the stores, doubling their productive potential; to offer lower priced and more varied goods; and to reduce packaging waste. Through partnership with the vendors, José Manuel is both lowering the cost of living in these communities and restoring neighborhood stores as local gathering spots, ensuring the vitality of the vendors in the face of large supermarket chains and rehabilitating lagging neighborhoods.
These peri-urban communities, defined by a lack of access to goods and services, are also known for social and environmental problems such as segregation, unemployment, and environmental degradation. José Manuel saw that in these areas, low-income families and individuals are held back by prices of basic groceries. With very little available cash to purchase products in bulk, people are left with two options: buy in smaller amounts, but at a much higher price per unit or, buy from large chains outside the community, but at a higher cost of transport and drain of resources from neighborhood-owned stores. As a solution, José Manuel is reducing prices for the vendor and the consumer by about 30%. To do this, he is bringing together trust-based networks of local “Algramo Vendors” and is creating smart buyers who look for fiscal and environmental savings without compromising quality.
Building these networks of local vendors as partners is rehabilitating both the dying stores and the neighborhoods. Vendors now look to each other and to Algramo as partners and problem-solvers. Through the power of the network, local vendors are positioned to negotiate lower prices with big food suppliers, and through improved sales and storefronts, a culture of the local grocery as community meeting point is returning. Furthermore, José Manuel is revealing a new base of buyers asking for lower prices while maintaining quality and environmental integrity. He designed this solution after living in and alongside these disconnected communities and seeing both the lack of local liquidity and deteriorating infrastructure as barriers to their success. With similar communities dotting Latin America, Algramo’s solution is now poised to spread across the region.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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