Here in the United States, many pleasant things happen over a cup of coffee. Books are read, personal stories exchanged, business deals made, and friendships forged.
Around the world, when circumstances are fair, life-changing things can happen to the people and families of those who produce the key ingredient for that corner store latte. A livable wage can be earned, investments in communities made, and a hard earned opportunity can materialize out of poverty.
Ensuring fair opportunities is what the international Fairtrade system is all about. Fairtrade America, the new organization representing the international Fairtrade system in the United States, is committed to helping smallholder coffee producers around the world to get a fairer price, access to international markets, and gain funds for community development for their product that will enable them to lead better lives. While also allowing them to invest in their communities to improve circumstances for those around them.
But Fairtrade goes beyond fair trade by working directly with producers to find ways for them to improve and sustain their farms and businesses. Producers have always been closely involved in everything Fairtrade does, and now producers have equal ownership in the Fairtrade system. This makes it the only certification organization to pioneer such power-sharing between groups in the northern and southern hemispheres.
Creating greater opportunity for our more than one million small farmers and workers is always top of mind. In 2012 we partnered with Incofin Investment Management and the Grameen Foundation to launch the Fairtrade Access Fund. The goal was to address the long-term financing needs of smallholder farmers in developing countries. To date, a total of $3.7 million US dollars has been distributed to seven cooperatives in Latin America.
Peruvian coffee and cocoa cooperative COCLA are one of the first recipients of a Fairtrade Access Fund long-term loan. COCLA received a two and a half year, $370,000 loan to invest in new equipment for drying coffee and cocoa. With the new machinery in place, the cooperatives’ drying process will increase by five to ten percent, quality product exports will increase by at least five percent, and operating costs will decrease by five percent.
On a human level, that means better professional, health, and agricultural training and education for COCLA cooperatives and their members. It also means there will ultimately be more money for improving living conditions in partner production areas through the implementation of funded projects developed to improve, maintain or reconstruct the social infrastructure like roads, bridges, and schools.
Another $350,000 trade finance loan went to Nicaraguan coffee cooperative UCASUMAN, which is located in a particularly important region that provides up to 60 percent of Nicaragua’s national coffee production. The loan will enable UCASUMAN to purchase Fairtrade certified harvested coffee from the many smaller cooperatives that make up UCASUMAN. This means farmers and communities can continue to rely on the jobs and economic development the cooperative provides.
Who Benefits from this Project?
As a result of Fairtrade Access Fund loans, tens of thousands of small producers representing hundreds of thousands of people from coffee cooperatives in Latin American and around the world will be able to achieve a more dignified livelihood.
The previously difficult-to-access loans will allow farmer organizations to invest in projects that will improve farmers’ income in the long run, and make a dent in the reported $500 million they need to cover their financing needs.
By the end of 2013, the Fairtrade Access Fund is expected to grow to $25 million, and will eventually expand to Africa and Asia. That represents a lot of pleasant cups of coffee, and a lot of lives powerfully, positively changed.
How Can I Help?
The Fairtrade Access Fund is an investment fund with an interest in providing smallholder producer organizations with access to finance. Companies interested in investing in the Fairtrade Access Fund should contact email@example.com.
Programs like the Fairtrade Access Fund aimed at empowering smallholder farmers are only limited by the size of the market for Fairtrade certified coffee and other products. There are many ways for others to get involved as well.
• Roasters and Retailers – Encourage your suppliers to purchase Fairtrade certified beans and promote the benefits of fair trade to your customers.
• Consumers – Choose Fairtrade coffee, and ask your favorite roasters and markets to carry products with the FAIRTRADE Mark.
• Everyone – Become part of the fair trade movement in the United States and help educate consumers, retailers, and businesses about the important difference fair trade can make in the lives of small farmers and workers.
Learn more about Fairtrade products to look for in stores, and about organizations you can join and support as part of the fair trade movement. Visit us at www.fairtradeamerica.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook at FairtradeMarkUS.
Contact Name: Ann Brown
Web Site: www.fairtradeamerica.org
Location: Various coffee producing countries
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone Number: N/A