Last month, we shared news that Israel-based Strauss Coffee, one of the world’s largest green coffee buyers, had committed an approximately $500,000 total annual investment to six projects designed to benefit and empower coffee producer organizations led by women.
At that time, three of those projects had already taken shape. Now it has been announced that one of the remaining three projects — in partnership with Portland-based Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers, and SH’s sister organization backed by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Relationship Coffee Institute — is a three-year innovation program involving women coffee farmers in Colombia.
The project will involve a 300-member Cafe Mujeres women’s organization that has been part of the Coocentral cooperative in Colombia’s Huila Department since 2014. Sustainable Harvest has been buying coffee from the cooperative — which has more than 3,400 members in total — since 2012, and the Strauss program partnership will be centered around an incentives program that was successfully piloted by the Relationship Coffee Institute in Rwanda in 2015 called “Premium Sharing Rewards.”
In the Rwanda pilot program, farmers earned points for attending trainings and implementing skills learned. Those points could be used to acquire various practical tools or goods such as pruning sheers, mobile phones or solar lights. “The partnership with Strauss Coffee will further refine the Premium Sharing Rewards model by testing it in a Latin American context,” Sustainable Harvest said today.
“This partnership shows a commitment from Strauss Coffee, the Relationship Coffee Institute and Sustainable Harvest to tackle gender inequality with innovative models that can scale impact,” Sustainable Harvest Founder and CEO David Griswold said in the announcement. “Together we aim to create meaningful training programs to improve quality and productivity, with creative short-term incentives designed to bridge the seasonal gap before the new, longer-term market solutions take hold.”