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Peru Opportunity Fund stems from its founding family’s deep personal connection to rural Peru.
The family’s ties to Peru began when young German shipping merchant Juan Gildemeister opened an export trading company in Lima, Peru more than 160 years ago. What set him apart, even in the mid-1800s, was his willingness to take risks to achieve his vision while offering a helping hand for others to achieve theirs.
After years as a successful trader, Juan came into possession of a large sugar plantation. It grew to be one of the largest sugar plantations in the world, Casa Grande. Juan’s descendants, including the family of Peru Opportunity Fund founder Sabina Cournoyer Gildemeister, continued to work the plantation. It was ahead of its time in resource management and technical innovations. Every bit of the plant and land was maximized: careful planning ensured the fields would mature sequentially so that the cane could be processed most efficiently by the mill; the fibrous part of the cane was dried and pressed into solid squares that were recycled as fuel for the boiler as well as to generate electricity; the dregs of the sap were used as a sticky spray to keep the dust on the unpaved roads from asphyxiating pedestrians.
To this day, the founders are admired for their effective use of techniques that may have been known by others but were rarely used so comprehensively.
It is from these roots that Hampshire Foundation, Inc. was created in 2000. The Foundation’s initiative, Peru Opportunity Fund allows the third and fourth generation of Gildemeisters to continue to foster the vision of their ancestors and give back to the country of their origin. From the start, the majority of the family’s giving has focused on helping to improve the lives of people in rural Peru.