This is part of a series on “The Future of Fair Trade,” written in collaboration with Fair Trade USA. A 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, Fair Trade USA is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. To follow along with the rest of the series, click here.
October is Fair Trade Month, a time to celebrate the 1.3 million farmers and workers around the world who grow and sew the Fair Trade products we love. It’s also a time to celebrate the NGOs and brands working day-in and day-out to help farming communities build better businesses, and better lives. That’s why we’re proud to announce our partnership with nonprofit organization Kiva. Building on a pilot program launched in 2012, we’re expanding our collaboration to help small-scale coffee farmers access financing, improve crop quality, protect the environment, and invest in the future of their families and communities.
Last year Kiva, Fair Trade USA and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (the world’s largest purchaser of Fair Trade Certified™ coffee) joined forces to pilot Kiva’s very first agricultural lending program with a Fair Trade coffee cooperative in Mexico. Nearly all of the loans were fully-funded by Kiva lenders around the world, benefiting hundreds of farmers working to prepare their fields for harvest.
“Agricultural micro-loans can be a truly powerful avenue to help small-scale farmers invest in better environmental practices, productivity and quality when there are limited options for financing,” said Ben Corey-Moran, Director of Coffee Supply at Fair Trade USA. “In this way, our partnership with Kiva helps maximize the benefits of Fair Trade for coffee growers, and also empowers coffee drinkers to engage with farming communities in a new and unprecedented way.”
Making a Difference
During the pilot period, a loan of $2,000 was made to Eusebio Virgilio to buy fertilizer for his coffee plants during the rainy season. Production has been very good since obtaining these financed inputs, and the 35 tons of coffee Eusebio and his family were able to harvest allowed him to repay 100% of the loan.
Based on the success of the pilot, Kiva and Fair Trade USA are teaming up once again to expand the lending program to two new Fair Trade cooperatives — Pueblos en Acción Comunitaria in Nicaragua, and Federación Campesina del Cauca in Colombia. Pueblos en Acción Comunitaria, which has already received more than $21K in funding, plans to invest in field renovation and farm maintenance, so they can deliver the best quality coffee possible.
“Kiva is committed to holistically improving the lives of borrowers, which includes a fair wage, the option to farm organically, and more opportunities for their families,” said Kiva President Premal Shah. “By working with Fair Trade USA and partnering with cooperatives, we’re guaranteeing that capital provided by our lenders is going to support borrowers in every aspect of their lives.”
In addition to looking for the Fair Trade Certified™ label when you shop this Fair Trade Month, why not go a step further by extending a loan to a coffee farmer through Kiva.org. Help Andres in Mexico buy fertilizer and replant his farm. Or support Alberto in Colombia as he works to build a stable and purchase livestock. As little as $25 can make a big difference; it’s a great way to BE FAIR in October and beyond.