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Start-Up Spotlight: AgHelp
Growing up, brothers Sadoc, Ivan, and Feliciano Paredes traveled from South Texas to Florida to Michigan with the rest of their family as migrant farm workers. Oftentimes, the openings they heard about were through word of mouth, so it wasn’t unusual to get to a jobsite and find that a position had already been filled.
“It was really chaotic to find other jobs,” he says. “It was also difficult to find resources that could help with locating and registering children in a school district, as well as identifying emergency healthcare clinics in a new area.”
After 15 years as migrant farm workers, as well as Feliciano becoming the assistant state monitor advocate and seeing the situation at a state level, the brothers developed AgHelp. The start-up is a mobile platform that centralizes all of the resources a worker may need.
How it Works
Employers, workers, and support agencies all sign up to use the program. This allows employers to get the word out about open positions and helps workers find jobs, schools, and healthcare in their new community.
Partnerships with trusted sources workers are already familiar with, such as the Association for Farmworker Opportunity Programs, provide peace of mind when traveling from one job to the next.
Not only is AgHelp a useful resource for workers but it will also save employers money.
“We are providing employers with a national labor pool at a cheaper price than they are used to,” says Sadoc. “Currently there are newspaper ads and sometimes third-party recruiters, which can get expensive. They’re also aimed at full-time careers that pay more.”
AgHelp originally launched last fall to create awareness for the agencies and was later taken down so that a web version can launch later this summer. While the program was active, over 350 agencies signed up and even more have shown interest since then.
Use of this resource is free for support agencies and workers. The employers, however, will pay a subscription. The length of subscription can vary between three months, six months, and a year.
This company is one of the five start-ups participating in the 2018 Iowa AgriTech Accelerator. They are using this opportunity to increase their connections to larger grower groups, co-ops, etc. They are also wanting to learn more about the employment needs of the different sectors of agriculture and how to market to them.
Participants in this program spend 100 days in Des Moines working with mentors in the AgriTech industry. They also receive $40,000 in funding from the program’s sponsors in exchange for 6% in their business. This will be AgHelp’s first source of funding.
About the Company
Founders: Sadoc, Ivan, and Feliciano Paredes
Headquarters: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Background: Brothers Sadoc, Ivan, and Feliciano are using their experience as migrant farm workers to develop a mobile platform that connects agricultural workers with employers and support services.