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In Atlanta, Grounds for Empowerment Connecting Women Farmers to US Market


Just prior to the SCAA Event in Atlanta this past April, Social Enterprise @ Goizueta — a research center within Emory University’s Goizueta Business School and the organization behind the Transparent Trade Coffee Project — officially launched a multi-year program called Grounds for Empowerment.

Designed to support and empower women who grow coffee while responding to a specialty coffee market that has not fairly distributed compensation to the many millions of coffee farmers throughout the world, the program came after several of interactions between SE@G students and staff and female coffee growers in Nicaragua.

This coming week, from Nov. 13-19, SE@G is presenting its first Grounds for Empowerment Community Forum, highlighted by visits to Atlanta by Nicaraguan farmers Ivania Calderon and Ramona Del Socorro.

“The goal is to overcome the business challenges associated with extreme isolation so that the market will fairly compensate women to allow them to reinvest in their community, thus strengthening the areas where they live and work,” SE@G said of the overall goal of the GFE program.

A goal of the forum itself is to more deeply connect Calderon and Del Socorro to actors within the U.S. specialty coffee industry, with information shared both ways. Throughout the week, representatives from U.S. companies and organizations such as Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, Café Campesino, Counter Culture Coffee, Thrive Farmers Coffee and the Specialty Coffee Association of America will be on hand both to teach and to learn.

Ivania Calderon, the owner of her family’s 51-acre coffee farm called El Alboroto, and Del Socorro, who runs a 4.5-acre farm with her husband and four children, will be able to share their stories and present their coffees to a range of potential buyers, while also taking applicable lessons back to their respective cooperatives.

“Women have worked for coffee for years and it is time for coffee to work for women,” said SE@G Academic Director Peter Roberts. The SE@G team hopes to expand the Grounds for Empowerment Program to include more farmers from more countries of origin, and into new U.S. cities in the years ahead.

The full schedule of events is available here, and the program is additionally being supported by a new crowdfunding campaign, as well as direct sales of coffees from the farms of both women, roasted by Atlanta-based program partner Octane Coffee.