What does an organic Fairtrade speciality coffee and social impact investing have to do with empowering some of the poorest women in the world?
In rural Minas Gerais, Brazil’s biggest coffee-growing state, women used to support their husbands on small family farms but had little involvement or say in the business or farming decisions. This changed forever in 2006, when Oikocredit investee partner, Coopfam (Cooperativa dos Agricultores Familiares de Poço Fundo e Região) - a smallholder coffee co-operative, started to focus on empowering women to play an equal role in producing the Arabica coffee that had been a part of their lives for decades.
Today the women in the Brazilian coffee-growing community of Poço Fundo (Minas Gerais) play a central role in Coopfam’s future and support their families and livelihoods by producing and selling their own special, female brand of organic Fairtrade coffee – Café Feminino.
Dayany de Assis dos Santos Ferreira, for example, has two young children and runs their small coffee farm with her husband. Recently, they also bought a plot of land for Dayany to grow manage her own Café Feminino crop.
Dayany explains: “In the past, my work was just to produce coffee. There was no difference between the coffee I produced and the rest of the farm. Now I have a separate plot that only I look after. It’s very important to me and all of the women in the group have supported me in my activities. We put a lot of love and care into the Café Feminino crop and it is this care and attention which results in the premium quality of this coffee. It’s tough work, but I feel we can do the job and I feel rewarded for the things that I do”