The Café Femenino Foundation was first conceived in 2004 through the inspiration of a group of women in Peru who decided to change their situation in life and create their own organization and their own coffee product. Women in most coffee communities throughout the world have no rights, they are uneducated, they are poor, and live in isolated rural communities. Without rights, living in poverty and isolation, women are often abused, and they have no voice in their family. So the Café Femenino Foundation was created to benefit women and their families in coffee communities around the world.
The foundation was licensed by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) in December 2004. A week later, the tsunami hit in Sumatra, so the first thing the foundation did was work to raise funds to help the victims in the rural coffee communities in Aceh, Sumatra. Funds went directly to coffee cooperatives that used the funds to purchase water, rice, and funeral cloths for those who lost their lives. Since that time, the foundation has funded grants in Kenya, Rwanda, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, and Haiti. The foundation works to raise funds to be able to fund grants that are received directly from coffee organizations in all these countries. The door is open to hear the needs of these impoverished small producers. The requests are as varied as the countries they live in. Over the years, the foundation has funded grants for health training programs, sanitation, cancer screenings, schools, libraries, water projects, school books, food security that involves, animal breeding programs, quinoa production, community gardens, and canning. The foundation has funded income diversification such as weaving, embroidery, roasting and selling their own coffee, micro-lending programs, candy production, and fruit tree production. The Café Femenino Foundation listens to the needs of these small producers and is open to funding all types of aid projects. The funds are generally overseen by the coffee organizations themselves or by local NGO’s. Construction projects such as schools or irrigation projects are done by the producers and the communities themselves keeping project cost to a minimum and allowing the foundation to accomplish a great deal with the smallest cost possible.
The Café Femenino Foundation is an all-volunteer organization. Funds come from donations and fundraising by companies and individuals working within the coffee industry. Other organizations such as churches and Soroptimists have also been donors to the foundation. Coffee Fest, which puts on several regional trade shows each year, graciously donates show floor space in every show to enable the foundation hold a Bid for Hope Silent Auction to help raise funds. All items in this auction are donated by the companies that are exhibitors at each of the show. This year, for the first time, the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) is also donating show floor space to hold the “Call to Auction” silent auction to help support the Café Femenino Foundation. All volunteers in the foundation even pay their own way to each of the trade shows. So the only money that the foundation spends is for marketing, allowing the foundation to be able to donate most of the funds to fund the many grant requests that come into the foundation every year.
The reward for all the work that the foundation does every year to help these poverty stricken communities comes directly from these communities when we can see a home that now has clean running water or a child that now can speak because he had cleft pallet surgery through the relationship the foundation maintains with the Faces Foundation, located in Portland, Oregon. We have seen the level of poverty improve, and we’ve seen cultural changes where women are now being respected because the woman now is able to generate her own income. Girls go to school where once they did not. A community where all children failed school because of a lack of any resources or books now has its own library and a trained librarian is there to help the children learn. So many wonderful things are happening in so many countries due to the work of the Café Femenino Foundation. But there are still so many families around the world that need help; there is still so much work to do. We hope the coffee industry will continue to help and support the work of the Café Femenino Foundation.