In 2007, several hundred women-coffee-sorters from the fair trade, organic coffee cooperative Asociacion Chajulense, in the Ixil region of Guatemala, lost their jobs to new sorting equipment. The area is one of the poorest, most marginalized regions at origin. In 2008, under the umbrella of the coffee association, 20 women created Chajulense de Mujeres, a Savings/Micro-Credit group established in the hopes that one day, it might provide an income for some of the hundreds of jobs that were lost.
The Coffee Trust provided capital for the project and introduced a savings component from which the women would eventually build their own capital fund. The Coffee Trust invested in Capacity Building for the women to develop a more effective, more efficient organization. Leadership training was emphasized along with fundraising skills so the group could sustain itself without support from The Coffee Trust.
After 7 years, there are 1,000 women in the program. It is 100% financially sustainable. It is capable of providing loans to those 1,000 women from a capital fund made up of the women’s savings.
Through The Coffee Trust Capacity Building Program, the women leaders have become financially literate, and have gained further access to low-interest and zero-interest loans from KIVA Foundation and the Swedish Embassy. In the future the program will serve thousands of women, far more than the hundreds of jobs lost in 2007.
The Coffee Trust will continue to provide the women with financial management skills to create the only bank for the poor in the region.
The project helps women provide an income for themselves that is not dependent upon the very volatile coffee trade. The income helps them buy food for their families where coffee has fallen short. The project teaches women financial literacy, such as how to make a household budget. The project teaches women how to manage their small businesses. The project teaches women to how to run a major banking institution.
By providing a significant part of their family income, the women gain a voice in their own home, and a voice in their own community. In the process, the women gain self-confidence. They become empowered and inspired. They see hope where they could only see despair. They see opportunities where they had only seen limitations. They see a future filled with possibilities instead of one that has nowhere to go.
The project inspires women not only in the area of money and income. It inspires the women in every aspect of their lives.
Readers can help by
Readers can help Chajulnese de Mujeres develop into a major bank for the poor in the Ixil region of Guatemala by supporting The Coffee Trust’s Capacity Building program. The program is training Chajulnese de Mujeres in financial management so they can effectively and efficiently develop their successful women’s savings and credit project into a major bank for the poor in the region.
Contributions to The Coffee Trust should be designated for the Chajulense Women’s Micro-Credit Project.
Readers can also help by inquiring at the Coffee Trust for promotional material that can be used inside cafes to inform coffee customers about the complexities of life at origin and what is being done to help coffee farmers and their families build sustainable lives.
Guatemala, San Gaspar Chajul, Quiché Guatemala,
1,200 families and 6,000 people will be impacted by this project.