We are proud that Forest First Colombia is providing a growing number of Colombians with stable, good paying jobs at or above a “living wage” level. Currently, between our direct employees and the contractors who execute our operations, we are employing over 170 people. Those numbers will grow to a total of approximately 500 people by the end of next year, the vast majority of whom are based in the developing region of Vichada.
Our planned development will see total employment grow to approximately 800 people by the end of 2021, with that number reaching almost 1,400 when we reach full capacity sustainable production in 2028.
The Vichada region has historically been an area with low population density, few economic opportunities and little to no formal employment. It is characterized by low employment and has a GDP per capita of USD3,537 among its 65,282 inhabitants (2015), which is well below the average for Colombia. And in the remote area outside of Puerto Carreño, the GDP per capita is estimated to be USD1,891.
To the extent there has been employment in the area, it has been for people with low skill levels. The main legitimate employer in the region has been government institutions, which bring in personnel from outside the region. In the rural areas and villages, the only employment opportunities were temporary in nature and were often associated with the narcotics trade, which was extremely erratic and exploitative.