Mercado Fresco, or “Fresh Market”, is the first micro-franchise developed by Supply Hope. We have been piloting Mercado Fresco since 2012 with 50-60 stores, and have now grown to just around 100 stores. Our goal is sustainable operations as we scale to 250 stores in Managua by 2018.
Mercado Fresco makes quality, affordable food accessible to low-income communities since our stores are located in the homes of our micro-franchise operators. Our products include fresh dairy products, vegetables, bread and traditional foods such as rice, beans and nacatamales. We teach operators everything from proper food handling, customer service and money management. They are given equipment including food baskets, signs and calculators. It costs $1,000 to open one store – including all the costs of training, equipment and inventory. Within eight months, the average micro-franchise operator’s monthly earnings exceed that one-time investment.
Quality, affordable food for low-income families is a problem in many developing countries. There are no safety regulations for most of their foods. Food often arrives in open, unrefrigerated trucks, kept “fresh” with chemicals like formaldehyde. All this contributes to poor nutrition and illness. Because Supply Hope is negotiating directly with suppliers and storing our products correctly in our warehouse, we control the quality of our products. And if we can’t find a popular product that meets our standards, we’ll make it ourselves.