In pursuit of our mission to fight extreme poverty, we know that rigor and research are critical when identifying successful approaches to community development. We focus on proven methods—namely increased access to education, healthcare, and stable livelihoods. Within this framework, it’s also incredibly important to diversify how outcomes are achieved by finding multiple ways to empower communities. In doing so, each community can take their own unique goals and strengths and turn them into sustainable action.
With this in mind, and on International Coffee Day, we are excited to announce our partnership with The Chain Collaborative (TCC). TCC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to invest in the Change Leaders in coffee-growing regions. The Change Leaders drive grassroots, sustainable development in their own communities, and the TCC’s goal is to help accompany them along the way. While this is our first endeavor into supporting coffee-growing communities, we know that anchoring communities around coffee production has proven to be one of the best ways to drive local economic and human development when realized in a sustainable, community-driven way.
The Chain Collaborative believes the best way to help coffee communities achieve economic stability is to support local leaders who have a track record of helping lift up those around them. TCC focuses on community-led development through their Change Leaders infrastructure. Change Leaders are “people who make up the leadership of a community-based organization and have the vision to create, implement, and sustain change to improve their local community,” according to TCC. This aligns perfectly with our commitment to building sustainable-growth non-profit partnerships.
Once TCC has worked with the Change Leaders to outline their own visions for change, the organization makes strategic investments aimed at supporting these visions. In collaboration, they work toward building more equitable and sustainable systems, where the beneficiaries are at the helm.
The first locally-led farmer collective to receive funding through the Cotopaxi and TCC partnership will be Alicia Roque Farms in Manabí, Ecuador. As part of Alicia Roque Farms’ goal to revive local coffee production in their region, they share knowledge on climate-smart agriculture, organic methods, and the specialty coffee sector with their community of 100+ small-scale farmers. To equitize access to processing infrastructure, Alicia Roque Farms is establishing a micro-processing center that will allow their collective of growers to improve the quality of their coffee, add value to their crop through processing, and interact with the international specialty market. TCC is also facilitating supply chain linkages for Alicia Roque Farms with a number of specialty buyers to support them as they navigate their first export. By consistently reaching new markets, Alicia Roque Farms will be able to continue purchasing producers’ coffee at a higher price, and in turn, co-contribute to the uplifting of their local communities.
In Manabí, 75% of people are unable to meet basic needs, making it crucial to ensure fair prices for producers in the area. Since 2013, the once robust production and export of coffee in Ecuador has declined due to low field productivity, high processing costs, and dominance from large agri-business. Currently, only 5% of coffee farmers in Ecuador are organized, compared to 80% in Colombia and 42% in Peru. However, by strengthening the Ecuadorian supply chain, facilitating farmer organization, and helping increase the quality and quantity of yields, TCC intends to jump-start a semi-dormant local industry and eventually see the 45 nearby producer communities connected to Alicia Roque Farms improve their quality of life.
Stay tuned for more updates from this unique partnership!