Project – 2021

Enabling women to take their coffee businesses further in Costa Rica

Project Overview

San José, Costa Rica

Project Date
Fall 2021

Bean Voyage

Empowering smallholder women coffee farmers with business development resources to provide and strengthen economic opportunities for women in the La Legua community.

Country Context
Women coffee farmers in Costa Rica earn 40% less than their male counterparts and are more excluded from access to valuable information and market opportunities. These communities have also faced significant challenges due to COVID-19 such as a 75% loss of annual income, reduced funds for children’s education and family healthcare, and increased food insecurity.

Project Background

Globally, there are 248 million smallholder women farmers, the majority of whom live in rural areas and farm on less than 5 acres of land. Despite their heavy involvement on farms, women’s ability to succeed as farmers and business leaders are limited and they are exposed to greater risks of poverty: 68% of them earn barely earn enough to sustain their families.

In Costa Rica, women coffee farmers earn 40% less than their male counterparts and face significant challenges in accessing proper training and information that will help improve the productivity, quality, and income from their harvests. This is largely because women lack access to direct markets with buyers who can pay a higher price for their coffee. They also have little to no peer support or guidance with their work, nor do they have easy access to social resources for counseling or mental health support. In addition, because they mostly live in rural areas, these communities of women experience higher rates of domestic violence.

Bean Voyage, WECO’s partner in San José, is an organization working to break the cycle of poverty affecting coffee-farming communities and provide critical support to women farmers through educational opportunities, business training, market resources, civic engagement, and well-being assistance.

Of the women that comprise their community, 54% have never received formal training on how to run their coffee business, and less than 10% have board leadership in local level cooperatives in Costa Rica, which limits their ability to influence and benefit from the coffee industry.

To learn more about Bean Voyage, please visit their website.

Empowering coffee farmers with business development

Through Bean Voyage, WECO is partnering with a women-led association of coffee farmers, ASIPROFE, a group of 11 women in the Legua de Asseri region who provide and strengthen economic opportunities for women in their community.

WECO is currently assisting ASIPROFE in completing the building of a communal micro-mill to process member coffee for export and local consumption. Once the micro-mill is complete, WECO will work with ASIPROFE on the next stage of the project, which will be business development and access to training, subject-matter experts, and personalized mentorship so the association can create a sustainable plan for their business. Ultimately it will fill both income and knowledge gaps that exist for the community and enable their long-term success. The project will also include opportunities for volunteers to visit the community and contribute to future construction efforts.

To learn more about ASIPROFE and La Legua, please visit their Café Aromas de la Legua Facebook page.

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