Economic Diversification for the People of Ixil

Coffee farmers and their families work with The Coffee Trust to carve out their own futures based upon their own priorities, values, and cultures.

No matter how high the price of coffee, coffee is not enough. The path to sustainability comes from the communities themselves. That’s why The Coffee Trust partners with local communities in the Ixil region of Guatemala to create alternatives to sole dependence on coffee.

The Women’s Savings and Microcredit Project works to help women empower themselves, providing low-interest credit for women to start small businesses and supplement family incomes. The Coffee Trust has trained a local community-based organization, Mujeres Chajulense, to manage the program. Through our capacity-building approach, The Coffee Trust provides the women with training in:

1. The effective and appropriate use of credit and interest
2. Loan management
3. Microenterprise development
4. Microfinance management

The women meet regularly to learn about financial management, make payments on their loans, and add to their personal savings, which eventually replaces the loan fund. Going forward, the women borrow from their own collective savings. When they repay their loans, they pay interest to themselves, adding even more to their savings fund. The program operates on the idea of community solidarity, as all the members are responsible together for a default.

The Women’s Savings and Microcredit Program began with 20 women and has now expanded to 1,700 women!

The Women’s Weaving Program gives women an opportunity to earn income by creating new designs and products for sale locally, or to be exported.

The Honey Production Project works to give coffee farmers and their families a new strategy to stabilize their incomes, regardless of the volatile coffee market or lost coffee production due to environmental challenges. With the current devastation of coffee production from the fungus la roya, having alternative sources of income is essential for the livelihoods of coffee farming communities.

Participants are able to take out small loans to build apiaries, and they learn proper hive building and maintenance techniques, as well as beekeeping skills. Each hive has the potential to produce 30 pounds of honey. The honey is processed in Guatemala and exported for sale.

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