International Supplier in the Spotlight: CIBUM S.A.S.

| By Michael Castellano
NGLCC Global believes that bringing LGBT entrepreneurs from around the world into our international network can be extremely impactful, not only for a small business owner, but for developing communities at large. In this way, registration as an LGBT supplier not only grows a small business, but can also lead to widespread growth in terms of economic and social development. Case in point is CIBUM S.A.S., a recently registered international LGBT supplier from Colombia, one of NGLCC’s target countries under the strategic public-private partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). 

CIBUM was founded in late 2013 by two entrepreneurs, Fabio Americo Rugeles Oviedo and Jose Gabriel Lopez Ortiz in their hometown of Bucaramanga, Colombia. CIBUM specializes in event catering and the production of innovative and creative specialty foods—including artisanal chocolates, fruits, and vegetables. Their products combine a concern for health with local traditions, and of course incredible taste. If you don’t believe me, try their chocolate covered ants, a favorite local treat!

The idea for the business came to fruition out of #ActivatingLGBT, one of the Colombian LGBT Chamber of Commerce’s (CCLGBTco) signature events in Barranquilla, when Oviedo and Ortiz participated in trainings and networking and connected with other LGBT entrepreneurs. In Barranquilla, the two met an LGBT chef and attorney who helped with their business development, and from there they founded CIBUM. Ortiz said:
After #ActivatingLGBT, the way we were doing business changed completely. The exchange between so many business people and entrepreneurs was an impetus to make a business plan and formalize, which allowed us to be able to participate in processes of public procurement, increase our clients, and generate new positions of work and increase our revenues.
While CIBUM S.A.S. directly benefited from its affiliation with CCLGBTco and connecting with the LGBT business community in Colombia, their business has also had a real impact on the development of their regional community. To produce CIBUM’s delicacies, Oviedo and Ortiz purchase ingredients from small, local farmers. Their suppliers continue to use traditional methods of cultivation, as Oviedo explained through one critical supplier who provides coffee for CIBUM’s chocolate covered coffee beans. The supplier grows organic, premium coffee and cultivates the crops in the shade under specially controlled environmental conditions. The farmer’s methods preserve an ecological balance between the natural flaura and fauna and the water sources in the Mesa de Los Santos region of Santander, Colombia. Through responsible procurement and sourcing, CIBUM has been able to foster productive linkages between agricultural sector and industrial sector to create value in the local gastronomy. For local farmers, these productive linkages create greater value for their products and generate economic wellbeing to enable these individuals to improve the livelihoods for themselves and their families. 
In this way, growing an LGBT-owned business has helped not only the LGBT community, but also the larger business environment of the region. Oviedo cited his affiliation with CCLGBTco as a critical resource, stating, “CCLGBTco has been of vital importance to the development of our business.” By equipping LGBT business owners with vital tools and connecting them not only with other LGBT entrepreneurs but also suppliers and other partners, the example “demonstrates that economic development permits effective inclusion of the LGBT community.”
As for any budding business, maintaining healthy growth is a constant challenge for CIBUM. With enough investment and financial support, and with their partnership with CCLGBTco and NGLCC Global, Oviedo and Ortiz hope to begin selling their products to major grocery stores and exporting their products overseas.