Bloomberg and Partners Support Project Aimed at Female Coffee Farmers

An article from Barista Magazine brings good news for women and coffee aficionados worldwide: the launching of a new program aimed at improving coffee quality and productivity for female farmers in Colombia. The new program is a partnership of Strauss Coffee, Sustainable Harvest and the Relationship Coffee Institute. From the article: 

Sustainable Harvest has a wide array of supporters including The Clinton Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the Lemelson Foundation. It reports leveraging more than $4 million in development grants from foundations and academic, corporate and institutional partners, to deliver programs that help coffee farmers.

A lot of things make coffee better—for example, better growing practices, a deeper understanding of soil quality, or more advanced machinery for depulping coffee cherries. Time and again, one of the single biggest contributors to an increase in both coffee quality and outcomes for farmers is investment in women. That’s why Strauss Coffee, one of the largest coffee companies in the world, in partnership with Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers and the Relationship Coffee Institute (RCI), are taking part in a new incentive program aimed at improving the lives of female farmers in Colombia.

“Research has shown us that women are responsible for over 70 percent of the work in the global coffee market, yet they often own about 15 percent of the land, mills and actual product,” says Orr Rachlevsky, director of strategy and projects for Strauss. “Women are the driving force behind families and communities—investing in women is the best investment we can make.” Women are more likely to reinvest their earnings into the communities, so pledging aid and support was almost an easy choice that Strauss made to create better outcomes for farmers, and ultimately produce better coffee in Colombia. Before this project, Strauss already committed resources to projects in Honduras, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Vietnam, and El Salvador.

Relationship Coffee Institute (RCI) was created from a partnership between Bloomberg Philanthropies and Sustainable Harvest. RCI successfully piloted a program called Premium Sharing Rewards with two Rwandan women’s cooperatives in 2015. Now the program will be piloted in Colombia, where Strauss Coffee will be working with approximately 300 farmers that participate in the Coocentral cooperative in the Huila district. 


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Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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