2014

Coffee Women Entrepreneurs on the Rise in Struggling Economies

Contact person: Roberta Bernhard Lauretti
Email: bert@coffeecares.net
Phone: 571.230.6628
Project URL: http://www.coffeecares.net
Organization Name: Earth’s Choice

Project: Women in Coffee Microfinance
Location: Guatemala, Mexico
Projected Impact: 50

Project Description
“I just want the same things that you want; I want to provide for my family and to earn a decent living from my coffee,” a women coffee producer from Nicaragua told Karen Cebreros in 2003 during the historic International Women’s Coffee Alliance conference. Karen took that statement, and many others like it, to heart and founded CoffeeCares/Earth’s Choice. While Coffee Cares works with corporations and profit pillars of the triple bottom line for impact investors, Earth’s Choice gets to the heart of poverty by implementing their Women’s Microfinance Fund to provide a creative and sustainable approach to economic equality and community-owned development in coffee origin countries. Earth’s Choice has customized the proven “Grameen Bank” microfinance methodology for businesses led by women. By connecting directly to women coffee producers through their local cooperatives and community businesses, Earth’s Choice provides seed money for revolving loans that become self-sustaining over time. The loan fund allows women to start and expand small businesses related to farming and trade in their communities. Women report that the increased incomes have helped their families gain better access to healthcare, education, and healthier diets for their children.

Who Will Benefit from This Project?
Earth’s Choice believes that women and men are empowered by women’s greater economic contribution to their communities, and that they are the key to lifting their families out of poverty. For example, women like Lili Santos Funes, who is a coffee producer in Rancho Viejo, a small village in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. She and her husband have been producing export quality coffee for many years, but there are always hard times during the dry months or “lean season.”
“The coffee rust, or “ la roya,” has reduced our coffee production, and the loan from the Earth’s Choice “Women’s Microfinance Fund” has allowed me to increase my community pharmacy and earn an additional income throughout the year for school fees and food,” Lili stated. “The best part about receiving a loan is that I also received financial literacy training, and I am a better business woman now and can manage my accounts to ensure that I am earning money on a regular basis.”
From this experience she has gained the confidence to embark on another entrepreneurial venture and designed and created jewelry samples to do a beta test market in surrounding communities.
Young women have a chance! As a younger woman, Sonia Gomez did not have equal access to financial services like the older established women in her community due to her lack of experience and expertise. Women have stated that it is important for young women and men to experience positive female role models that are non-threatening and productive. Positive role models give them hope that they have a brighter future, and they can even make a difference in their own lives. It has also been proven statistically that when women earn money, they may have more bargaining power at home. This in turn can help reduce their vulnerability to domestic violence and HIV infection.1

What You Can Do to Help
If you are interested in supporting these business women, please donate funds to the “Women’s Microfinance Fund” at the Earth’s Choice Foundation at www.coffeecares.net.

You can also contact the Founder & President, Karen Cebreros, at Karen@coffeecares.net or the Executive Director, Roberta Lauretti-Bernhard, at bert@coffeecares.net.

1icrw.org/what-we-do/economic-empowerment

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