As a service to the
children and people of coffee who make our wonderful cup possible
each morning, we offer you the following information. Please forward
this article to your friends, other retailers and those you know
with industry relationships.
Please consider helping
this long standing and pioneering organization. Contact
Coffee Kids directly to see how best you can be of assistance
given the nature of your particular business. We at Bellissimo feel
it is time to give back and help the coffee growing community in
any way we can.
Bruce Milletto, President
Kids is playing a special role within in the industry during this
difficult period. More and more continues to be written about the
"coffee crisis", and its causes are complex. However the
crisis is analyzed, the reality on the ground in coffee growing
communities is the destruction of livelihoods, lives, traditions,
families and the loss of lands and future production capacity.
What can be done? The answers are just as complex
as the problem. There are the FairTrade, Shade Grown, and Bird Friendly
initiatives. There's the promotion of quality coffee through technical
assistance programs for growers and marketing campaigns aimed at
consumers. There is the impetus for a tiered pricing structure to
recognize and pay premiums for quality coffees. There are various
kinds of certification programs and certification standards, plus
a huge debate over quality enforcement and inspection programs.
There are relationship coffees and the encouragement of vertical
alliances. There are conferences, boards, plans, articles and papers.
In all of this flood of information and urgency to find solutions,
the ones most often left out are the small coffee growers themselves
the ones that are most impacted.
Coffee Kids has been working "on the ground" in
coffee growing communities in Latin America for almost fifteen years.
The strategy of Coffee Kids is very simple we listen. We
listen to the people who are the most affected Ñ the growers.
What do they say? Invariably the most common concern in coffee growing
communities is the establishment of income diversification. But
what income diversification means to a small coffee farmer may not
be what it means to coffee experts in the U.S.
Income diversification is on the "solutions
agenda" of a number of significant organizations that are dealing
with the "coffee crisis". However, income diversification
is often defined as improving coffee quality and production efficiency.
The ways growers usually define it is finding an alternative source
income that is not related to coffee at all.
Did You Know?
Farms of less than 5 hectares (approx. 12 acres) produce about 70%
of the world's coffee.
It's not that growers want to stop growing coffee.
If coffee growing families can raise chickens or pigs, start a small
store, mend clothes and sew, sell tortillas or sweets, run a midwife
clinic, build furniture, make sure their kids finish school so they
can find employment not picking coffee, then the family doesn't
depend on coffee for their entire livelihood. Then when the bottom
drops out of the coffee market there's a good chance they can hang
on and keep growing coffee until the market improves. It means that
they are not completely powerless and dependent upon the vicissitudes
of the coffee market.
Kids sets up strong partner relationships with in-country not-for-profit
organizations that can work with growers on a continual basis, and
sponsors projects to help coffee growers realize their economic
and social goals that usually revolves around decreasing dependency
on growing coffee. One reason these projects work is that the ideas
come from the growers themselves. Then Coffee Kids helps and encourages
communities and local organizations to diversify their own funding
and capacity until they are able to perpetuate and grow projects
on their own.
One of Coffee Kids' projects is based upon micro-lending
and micro-enterprise development as well as savings. The saving
ability, even from very poor families, demonstrates financial responsibility
and loan repayment ability. When enterprises are successful Ñ
savings are multiplied and reinvested into the loan fund
creating what is in effect a community development bank. In Vera
Cruz there are close to 2,000 people participating in a savings/lending
program in 70 lending groups. The collective amount saved by participants
from impoverished communities has surpassed a quarter of a million
A similar program is growing in Nicaragua and already
involves over 1,500 family members where the economic situation
is even more dire. In Oaxaca, Coffee Kids sponsors another loan
program, plus programs to produce food for the family table through
individual and community gardens. In Guatemala, Coffee Kids has
been funding a health project, and in Costa Rica a scholarship program
that allows kids from coffee growing families to attend school and
prepare for a livelihood not dependent upon picking coffee.
Coffee Kids invites you to get involved. Coffee
Kids is upgrading their business membership package so you can show
your customers you care and that your business is part of the solution.
We are developing a number of ways that you and your customers can
get involved in helping to support Coffee Kids so that there
is a real coffee community that reaches from the grower in Latin
America that picks the coffee cherries to the coffee consumers in
the US that raises a flavorful, warm brew to their lips; and so
that everyone can feel good about the roles they play.