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Fruit Juice Cooperative "El Paraiso"

Internship and Volunteering Possible
The agricultural cooperative "El Paraiso" in Sapecho, Bolivia produces fruit juice of tropical fruit. You can help the farmers increase their productivity and increase sales as an intern or volunteer. Sapecho is located in rural areas in the tropical rain forest.

Project Details


The agricultural cooperative "El Paraiso" from Sapecho/Alto Beni was founded in 2005 and has 11 members who are all farmers in Sapecho.

In 2010, the cooperative installed a production plant for natural fruit juice, focusing on citrus fruits, particularly oranges.

The idea of the cooperative is to add value to its agricultural goods compared to just selling the raw fruits. Besides natural juices, other fruit products might be created that should be competitive on the market in terms of quality, price and packaging, and thus increasing the cooperative's profits to ensure an increase of the life standard of the farmers and their families.

The plant is technically on a good level. The machines include a pulp remover for carambola, pineapple, mango, papaya, copuazu and other fruits, a water filter system, pasteurisation boiler, tetra pak filling machine, compressor, UHT heater, three phase electric unit and water tanks.

The plant can process 800-1000 liters or pure fruit juice per day during the months of June to November when there are enough fruits.

While the cooperative has perfect skills in the production of fruit juices and produces a high quality fruit juice, the members lack business, distribution and marketing skills.

At the moment the cooperative is selling the juice in small tetra paks to nearby schools at a price of 12-15 Bs. per liter, while the production costs per liter are 12-13 Bs. This means, no real profit is being made.

The cooperative contacted with large juice producers that buy large quantities of blocks of frozen fruit juice at their plants in cities such as La Paz and Cochabamba. However, in this case the cooperative would have to do further investment into deep-freezing technology and a vehicle. Also the prices paid by these large companies per liter of juice are not attractive enough to justify the investment and effort. The members of the cooperative are not experienced in how to negotiate their position in front of such large companies.

The cooperative has never worked on a market study about the Bolivian fruit juice market, which seems to be highly competitive with high quality fruit juices being sold at very low prices. The question is, whether it makes even sense for a small producer such as the fruit juice cooperative "El Paraiso" to compete on the market with a mainstream product such as orange juice, or whether it isn’t better to focus on niche products that might be sold with higher margins. These might be other exotic variety of juices, or products such as smoothies, ice lollies/popsicles etc.

A volunteer or capable intern could contribute to this very interesting project in a leading role, while at the same time learn a lot, and help the cooperative. The Bolivian fruit juice market needs to be understood to be able to make informed decisions. Should the cooperative sell juice to large companies or better directly to end consumers, or aren’t niche products more profitable? A business model must be developed. Volunteers/Interns in Sapecho should be able to communicate in Spanish, as nobody of the cooperative knows English or any other foreign languages.

In the tab "More Info", you can find a detailed internship report.

Info Box
Location: Sapecho/Beni Alto, Bolivia
Availability: All year, Start date flexible
Minimum Duration: 1 Months
Maximum Duration: 12 Months
Language Requirements: Average Spanish
With Host Family in the village of Sapecho
Supervision Possible: Yes
Qualification Of Supervisor: Farmers
Minimum Qualification Of a Intern: None
Further Contribution To Project: None
Volunteering Possible: Yes
Required Qualification For Volunteer: Relevant skills
Further Contribution To Project: None
Motivation, Do you have the "right" attitude?

More Info


Report by Raul

1. The Cooperative
The agricultural cooperative "El Paraiso” from Sapecho, Alto Beni was founded in 2005 and has 11 members, all of whom are farmers in Sapecho. Built in 2010, the cooperative has a production plant for natural fruit juices, with emphasis on citrus fruits, especially oranges. The aim of the cooperative is to obtain a higher value by means of the processing of citrus fruits from the crude juice. In addition to natural fruit juices, there can also be more fruit products in the market in terms of quality, price and packaging, and thus can improve the income and living conditions of the families of members. The plant has modern technologies. Existing machines include a fruit pulp extractor for carambola, pineapple, mango, papaya, and Copuazu, pasteurisation boiler, filling machine beverage bags, compressor, ultra high treator, three- phase electric unit and water tanks. The system can produce 800-1000 liters of pure fruit juice per day in the months from June to November, when enough fruits are available. In addition, a multi-stage filter system for water treatment is available. The treated water is used both for fruit production, as well as for product sales.

At the time of my arrival, there was a defect in the juice extractor that could not be corrected for monetary reasons. For this reason, the business was limited only to the sale of treated water. This was done exclusively at the wholesale AR.BOL., a road construction company with several camps along the road to La Paz.
My project was mediated through the company World Unite, a network of currently nine local tour operators and partners working in different countries. World Unite was also responsible for issuing the notification and has an internship supervisor on site. The cooperative did not have an internship supervisor, which is not surprising given their size. Most members of the cooperative are very busy with the work on the plantations, so it is currently only two people out there who deal directly with the administration, production and shipment of fruit juice. One was Don Felix, who I lived with; an establishment for fruit juice production was his idea. The other is Don Edwin, the president of the cooperative; I spent both work and leisure time with him.
2. The Internship
The theory tasks ahead were so versatile that I initially did not know where to begin. The requirements with respect to the interns were also not clearly stated, so the work there required a lot of initiative. I began to create, in Spanish, delivery notes, invoices, reminders; here I found my Spanish skills very useful, which I could improve in writing and speech during my stay. Unfortunately, the printer ink was empty and we had to first be satisfied with simple delivery notes and invoice forms.
Then I got down to marketing controlling, because the already established sales prices were apparently never checked against the cost. Together with Edwin, I have measured the time spent on individual production steps and then determined the variable costs for the drinking water treatment. A comparison with the sales prices showed a good profit margin for the sale of water in bags and acceptable for sale in large water bottles, because you had to compete here with the prices of suppliers from La Paz. The big plus of having the cooperative is that they can conduct the water treatment in any quantity at a fixed price of 20 Bolivianos (about 2 euros) per month, which is practically nothing in light of the monthly consumption. Majority of the cost was the transport and material costs for packaging. The previous costing and contribution margin, I put in an Excel sheet for reference.
After that Edwin, Don Felix and I started to formulate the price, product, communication and marketing sales policy goals and possible ways of achieving them. Regarding the former, I urged them, because of monetary problems, to immediately invoice all shipments with a short payment period. However, since they had the fear of losing a single customer, my efforts were unsuccessful. The cooperative had been waiting for six months for their money. Allegedly, the payments would begin as soon as the accounting of AR - BOL was completed; to me it seemed ambiguous. Further, one of the objectives of El Paraiso is to bring fruit of good quality, with a fruit juice content of 70 % in the market in terms of product marketing policy. Here, primarily, schools and AR - BOL, and also retailers are considered as potential customers. As for the retail marketing, communication policies were: Awakening of attention and strengthening the purchase intention. I considered an extension of the sale to distant cities such as La Paz; but this was too premature for these reasons - firstly, the infrastructure is still very poor in Bolivia, the risk of transportation and the transportation time and costs can be very high; on the other hand, there is a greater risk to potential production losses on the current count that they cannot afford. For the analysis of the local market, I then created a questionnaire, which should be distributed in the small villages of the surrounding area, together with a free sample of the juice, as soon as the fruit juice production is started again.
In this context, I have also proposed a preliminary advertising slogan that will be on display along with the company name on all documents and the survey sheet.
“Jugo del nuestro”, which literally means something like: fruit juice from ours (a common phrase in Spain for: nuestro jugo, our fruit juice). Thus, the commitment to the region is sold to the buyer. Since, as I said it was a very small cooperative, of course I had often also help in other activities with, for example, packing of water bags in boxes or delivering help, etc. I also have created a PowerPoint presentation for Edwin to their specifications, which dealt with the consequences of unsustainable agriculture and poor use of resources and waste. I have also contributed to the creation of an information sheet for proper handling of the ecosystem in agriculture and forestry. Since Edwin is a qualified agricultural economist and the other members of the cooperative are farmers, I could learn a lot about ecologically and economically sustainable agriculture and forestry in tropical areas. In addition, I could also somewhat familiarise with the cultural and work-related characteristics of the population of South America and Bolivia respectively, and thus strengthen my social skills.
3. Evaluation of the internship and the internship encoder

I have heartfelt gratitude; both Don Felix and the president of the cooperative were very friendly to me and my work was very appreciated. In addition to the operational activities, I was not left alone during free time. So I had the opportunity to get to know the country and people and to spend many fun and energising hours. The other members of the cooperative are not too understanding, interns could find it a difficulty. Since the president also understands this problem, I have written, at his request, a document in which I gave my opinion of the work attitude of the other members.
Also the support from World Unite on site was very courteous and friendly.


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Most popular! - This is the choice of most of our participants. You live in an apartment with other participants.

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Adventurer - For simplest and cheapest deals: Accommodation of simple standard.



Accommodation in Jupapina

Right next Emma, her husband Rolando and their two children's home, are the lovingly designed volunteer houses. The houses each have several single rooms, fully equipped kitchens and bathrooms, which are shared by the residents. In addition, there are comfortable lounges. From the balconies or the terrace you have an indescribably beautiful view down on the elevations of the Andes and into the valley, where a river meanders. Volunteers provide for themselves. Basic food and hygiene products can be purchased in Jupapina and the neighboring village, Mallasa. For larger purchases, you can use public transport to reach the south of La Paz (about 20 to 30 minutes drive), where there are larger shopping centers. In the volunteer houses, there is WiFi. The Internet service is however, now and then restricted. Both in Jupapina and in Mallasa, there are also Internet cafes. Laundry can be washed by hand in a designated pool behind the family's home. There is also a washing machine; per wash cost is 25 Bolivianos (about 3 EUR) including detergent.

Accommodation in Huancarani



Accommodation in Sapecho
You live with a host family in the village of Sapecho. Following the tradition of the indigenous pluralism the community chooses the host family for you, so we can not predict precisely which family. However, the living conditions are comparable. The default requirements are that you bring a sleeping bag. There is a mosquito net available. In the village occupied by about 100 families, there is electricity and an internet café. There are only small shops selling basic products such as oil, rice, soap, dry biscuits, etc. There is in a hospital with basic medical services in Palos Blancos, a slightly larger village (just 15 minutes by car or motorcycle from Sapecho). Also the exact amount for rent and meals is decided in every single case by the community and we cannot tell you exactly in advance. It should be around 80 Bs/night (approx. 11.60 USD) on full board.



I. World Unite! Service Package

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  up to 31 Days
32-60 Days
61-90 Days
91-120 Days
5 Months or longer
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(Rate per Person)
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The World Unite! Service Package includes:

  • Individual Consultation and Preparation prior to your arrival
  • Access to the World Unite! Online Resource Centre which has Preparation Materials including Intercultural Preparation, compiled particularly for your destination (PDFs, Videos)
  • Preparation Session via Skype, together with further participants
  • Assistance with visa extension in Bolivia or arrangement of visa (depending on duration of stay) and other official permits (if required), but not the official government fees for it/them (see costs below)
  • In case of Jupapina: Transfers from/to La Paz/El Alto (LPB) on arrival and departure. In case of Sapecho: Pick up from airport La Paz/El Alto (LPB) on arrival, one night of accommodation in La Paz for orientation, then the next day proceeding by public bus to Sapecho (ticket fare included for arrival trip). In case of Achacolla: You can join the sisters every Thursday by car from La Paz to the farm. One night in La Paz is included if you arrive on a Wednesday. If you need additional nights in La Paz, they are 15 USD/night on full board.
  • Assistance with the booking of domestic connection flights within Bolivia if you arrive in Cochabamba or ViruViru
  • Personal support staff at your location and at our international office
  • Orientation and Introduction in La Paz
  • Accompanying you to your placement on your first day
  • 24 Hours emergency support by local support team
  • 50 USD Contribution to your project
  • Local SIM Card with 60 Bs. air time
  • Issuance of Confirmations/Certificates for your university, scholarship, insurance, etc. and filling out/signing Internship Contracts for your university

The Rates do NOT include:

  • Accommodation and Meals (see below)
  • Travel to/from Bolivia (you book it on your own; we can assist you)
  • Official fees for Visa (see below)
  • Insurance (Travel Health Insurance, Liability Insurance, Travel Cancellation insurance; you book it on your own, we can assist you)
  • Personal Expenses
  • Vaccinations
  • Local Transport (Estimated amounts see below)
  • Please note that for supervised/mentored internships, some organizations charge further contributions. You find this information in the "Info Box" below the respective internship description.

II. Accommodation Costs

You find accommodation costs in the tab "Accommodation"

Overview of other costs:

  • For most citizens except US Citizens, no Visa fee for a stay of a maximum of 90 days per calendar year. Any time you stay in excess of 90 days within a calendar year, 20 Bs. fee per day. US Citizens pay currentyl 135 USD Visa fee.
  • If meals are not included: around 70-150 EUR /100-180 USD)/month
  • Small local expenses (e.g. Internet, local transport): around 30-50 USD/Month (Estimate)
  • Insurances around 30-50 USD/Month


How do I pay?

Once all your questions have been answered and you confirm that you want to participate, we will email you an invoice. You can pay it via bank transfer or via Paypal. You will pay a deposit of 200 EUR when the invoice is issued. One months prior to your arrival you will pay the remainder for your Service Package.
The payment modalities for rent and possible further costs (e.g. internship supervision fees, as stated in info box of the respective project description) depend on your host country and placement. We will inform you beforehand. In many cases these costs are paid on site, but for some countries and placements they need to be paid partially or fully in advance.



Other Projects That Might Interest You:

These projects are suggestions for alternatives that may interest you or those that could be chosen as COMBINATIONS. The combination of projects in different organizations is often possible and usually cheaper than two individual bookings. Please contact us to know more! Check out our other listings in the areas of "World Learner" and "Active Travel" at your travel destination to make your stay even more interesting.

Travel Health Insurance

We recommend the following travel insurance that is meant specifically for participants of internships, volunteering, language study, working holiday, and courses abroad. It is available for travelers of all nationalities and usable for all countries, except your home country. You can also add a journey liability insurance.
Just click on the link, fill in the form and you will get a confirmation email.


Sapecho is located at a distance of 229 kilometers northeast of La Paz, and is the capital of the Sud Yungas province. It is at an altitude of 414 m on the right bank of the Alto Beni, just below the mouth of the Río Boopi. In the village, there is electricity and an internet café. There are around 100 families living there. There are only small shops selling basic products such as oil, rice, soap, dry biscuits, etc. There is in Palos Blancos, a slightly larger village (just 15 minutes by car or motorcycle from Sapecho), a hospital with basic medical services

La Paz

La Paz is located at an altitude of around 3600 meters (11,600 feet) within the canyon of the Río Chokeyapue, deeply cutting into the surrounding Altiplano highland. On the highland west of La Paz, the city of El Alto has been built, which during the last years, with more than 1 million people, has grown larger than La Paz; in El Alto you find the international airport of La Paz-El Alto. The difference of altitude between the southern parts of La Paz, which are located further down the canyon, and the upper parts of the valley, is almost 1000 meters (3300 feet), resulting in spectacular views when driving down from El Alto into La Paz.

Coordinator in La Paz

Our coordinator in La Paz is Sandra, a housewife and mother.

Recreational Activities in La Paz

La Paz is a metropolis and offers similar recreational opportunities such as some European cities.
Popular, but also dangerous are Mountain Bike Trips on the "road of death" in the Yungas, a narrow and unpaved mountain range with hundreds of deep chasms. An abstruse spectacle is the wrestling matches of Cholitas, the women who wrestle in traditional indigenous garments, in El Alto. In cooperation with the Center "Vive Bolivia", we offer a variety of courses and cultural activities.

Getting There

You travel to La Paz and meet our supervisor Sandra; and you probably stay there for the night. Then you travel by bus to Sapecho. From La Paz, take the highway Ruta 3 via Coroico and Caranavi in a northeasterly direction to the bridge over the Río Beni; thence five kilometers upriver to Sapecho. The Ruta 3 is 372 kilometers to the Trinidad Mamoré River. Travel time during the dry season is about 8 hours, but during the rainy season about 10-12 hours. Sometimes the road is not passable. If this is the case when you arrive, you'd have to wait in La Paz until the road is usable again. In La Paz, we organize your accommodation.

Getting To La Paz

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You fly to La Paz El Alto (LPB), where you will be picked up and taken to your accommodation. Often, there are cheaper international flights to Santa Cruz de la Sierra (ViruViru Airport, VVI). In that case, you can fly there and then take a connecting flight to La Paz, booking separately with Aerosur or BoA. The tickets between these cities are quite low (30-50 EUR / 38-63 USD), but you cannot pay by credit card from overseas. We can buy you a ticket in Bolivia.  



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are there fixed start dates for the project, which I must adhere to?
No, you can arrive at any date and you can hence, plan your trip according to your availability and the prices of flights. We can pick you up from the Cochabamba airport even at night. You cannot start a project during certain holidays, of which, we will inform you in advance.
Can I stay longer at my accommodation after my volunteering/internship or arrive earlier?
Yes, this is possible and we will give you our best rates. Just let us know when you arrive and leave and we will let you know the costs.
During my stay, can I travel around the country?
Of course, you can do this - most of our participants do so. However, when the travel destination is too far away, it may not be possible over a weekend; these, we would recommend you keep for before the projects begins or after the completion. You could even plan these out during holidays (e.g. Semana Santa). We will notify you of the destinations and the recommended time to visit.
Is it safe to travel in Bolivia alone as a single female traveller?
About 80 percent of our participants are women and many of them 18 to 24 years old. Not a single instance of any serious security issue has been reported. Our supervisors on site will advise you on how you should conduct yourself in order to avoid problems - issues such as clothing style, carrying valuables, and in dealing with machismo and patriarchal societies. Our preparation material brings attention to these issues. It is very important to follow these basic rules, that are just as applicable to many other places, in order to reduce risk as much as possible.
Will I be the only volunteer/intern in the project or in Bolivia?
The total number of participants that participate simultaneously with an organization depends on the size and activity of the organization and responsibilities of volunteers/interns. We try to avoid too many volunteers/interns in an organization at the same time. It may be that you are alone in your work site, but usually there are, throughout the year, other participants in Cochabamba, who you can meet in your spare time, if you desire so. In addition, there are also many tourists on the road, whom you can easily meet at bars, shops, etc. You can also meet a lot of local and foreign students in the lively city of Cochabamba.
What vaccinations do I need?
Our Info - PDF that you get as a participant, gives detailed information on health care. Also refer to Recommended Vaccinations
Where will I live?
You can go through the housing options in the tab "Accommodation".
Can I choose my accommodation?
You can send us your preference and we will try our best to organise that for you. However, some Organizations provide accommodation, in which case, you can only opt for that.
How free or bound am I in my accommodation with the host family?
While you will have your privacy, in Bolivia, it is customary to let your host family know when you will leave or return to the house so that the doors can be unlocked, due to safety reasons. It is unacceptable to have casual acquaintances visit you. The level of closeness or privacy with the family can differ.
Does my accommodation have internet facilities?
The shared accommodations in Cochabamba and in Sopocachi, La Paz have internet, as does the hostel in Cochabamba. As for the host families, Internet is not always available, and the same applies to the boarding offered by some Organizations. You can find information about the availability of internet in the tabs "Accommodation". If there is no wifi internet, you can buy yourself a USB modem stick or surf the Internet with your smartphone.
How can I do my laundry?
In general, clothes are hand washed in Bolivia. Many households have someone employed for the purpose, while others have washing machines. There are also laundromats.
Can I cook in the accommodation?
Yes, the families allow the use of the kitchen, but may charge a small monthly fee for additional consumption of electricity and gas. The families also offer meals for you, if you want to eat with them. This, you can decide when you arrive. Details are in the tab "Accommodation".
I am a vegetarian. Can I get vegetarian food?
Yes, host families are familiar with vegetarian meals and allergies or food intolerances can be considered. It is also possible to buy vegetarian food.
What language skills do I need?
In Bolivia, Spanish, as well as indigenous languages such as Aymara or Quechua are spoken. If you have little or no knowledge of Spanish, we recommend that you begin your stay with a Spanish language course. We can also organize Skype Spanish lessons with a Bolivian language teacher. The majority of the volunteering/ internships expect basic to medium level of Spanish at the start of the activity. That is, you should be able to communicate and express yourself during your stay, at a basic level. Please let us know what you level of knowledge of Spanish is, so that we make sure we organise your stay/project accordingly.

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