Find out how Seafresh, Grupo Granjas Marinas and the shrimp industry in Southern Honduras are boosting economic stability and social cohesion for workers.

The ‘underemployment’ rate in Honduras is currently around 60%, with the lack of opportunities for sustainable jobs disproportionately hitting single mothers who sustain around a third of households in the country.

Seafresh Group has been supporting Grupo Granjas Marinas SA (GGM), one of the country’s leading producers of Pacific white shrimp, and FUNDESUR, a local shrimp industry foundation, on a range of initiatives to support coastal communities – and especially Honduran women – by improving their health services, environment, educational conditions and career opportunities.

David Fleming, Executive VP, Seafresh Group, said: “Several founding members of the Seafresh Group executive team, including myself and our CEO Lasse Hansen, are personally familiar with the shrimp industry in Honduras, having lived there and worked for GGM.

“In recent years, we’ve been working directly towards the development of not only the company, but also the shrimp industry in Honduras by part-funding FUNDESUR. Through this work, we’ve witnessed the positive impact that jobs and projects supported by shrimp companies can have on hard-pressed coastal communities.”

More sustainable jobs

The shrimp industry in Honduras generates more than 15,000 jobs directly associated with the production and processing of shrimp. Another estimated 50,000 jobs are indirectly supported by the industry through various goods and services purchased by shrimp companies and their employees.

Within the shrimp industry in Honduras, the success of GGM is proving to be a force for positive change. GGM generates between 90 and 100 million USD a year in exports, a significant proportion of which is reinvested back into the country’s economy. GGM also employs around 4,000 people, 41% of whom are women.

Women into management

Women are often affected more deeply by poverty than men due to lower employment and salary prospects. Single mothers are particularly vulnerable even though they support as many as a third of Honduran households.

One of the ways that GGM is tackling that imbalance is by encouraging more women into leadership roles. Over the past 10 years, the majority of new junior managers hired by the company have been young women. The past three years alone has seen a 9% increase in the proportion of women in supervisory and managerial roles.

To help them on their journey into management, FUNDESUR implemented a leadership diploma in which 85% of the participants are women. The aim of the diploma, run in collaboration with the Metropolitan University of Honduras, is to encourage more women into leadership positions both within their communities and the local shrimp industry.

As well as boosting employment prospects, GGM has a number of support programmes focused on female employees and single mothers – this includes dedicated medical services and direct support for their children’s health and education.

Putting employees first

GGM is known within the shrimp industry in Honduras for treating its employees with respect. Going beyond the country’s legislation on minimum wages, GGM ensures that its employees and their families can afford a decent standard of living.

In 2019, GGM became the very first aquaculture operation in the world to gain Fair Trade Certification. Seafresh Group worked with GGM to accomplish this goal and is a proud supporter of the program. Fair Trade Certification requires $.07/lb of shrimp sold to be paid directly back to the employees who produced and processed the product. These employees determine how this money is spent to improve their quality of life.

Seafresh Group and GGM consider this certification to be a transparent way to demonstrate our shared commitment of doing the right thing – for both our employees and our neighbors.

An association that works

A number of employee benefits are also provided through GGM’s employee association. Known as ADI, it was founded nearly 30 years ago, and all employees can become members from the moment they’re hired.

The ADI invests directly into local businesses, such as grocery stores, bus services, equipment rentals and catering used by its workers and the local community. The profits generated by these businesses is then distributed annually among ADI members.

Beyond the financial benefits for members, the collaboration between GGM and ADI fulfils an important social purpose. ADI funds are used to provide members with services ranging from low interest loans – for family emergencies, home improvements, small businesses, and more – to scholarships, health care, sporting events, music festivals, and even funeral insurance.

Attracting foreign investment

Finally, FUNDESUR is seen as a well-managed and responsible organization within the shrimp industry in Honduras by numerous governmental and non-governmental organizations.

This has resulted in the foundation receiving external contributions in excess of 8 million USD a year. That means FUNDESUR can successfully deliver greater access to water, electricity and basic medical care to thousands of people living in coastal communities.

Education is one of the most important areas of focus for FUNDESUR. The foundation is continuously investing in school facilities and educational materials to ensure all children regularly attend classes.

Tackling the effects of poverty

Dr. Dominique Gautier, Director of Social and Environmental Policy, Seafresh Group, added: “Generating sustainable jobs, attracting foreign investment and giving local people a voice are vital factors when it comes to tackling the effects of poverty in countries such as Honduras.

“That’s why we’re so proud to support GGM, FUNDESUR and the dedicated team there that’s making such a big difference to people’s lives.”