Las Marias Gender Project

La Plata, Huila, Colombia

Why this Project is so Important?

Overwhelmed by a lack of credit available in 2010, an initial group of 50 women came together to change the way they were being treated as it was weakening their families and future potential to lead a better and more productive life.

To them!

To create an atmosphere among the families in the community centered around family prosperity and generational renewal.  When the woman is strong, the entire family unit is better off.

To us!

To show that it's possible to create an environment of gender equity which helps the family unit and increases their income potential.

To you!

To support a gender equity project focused on the empowerment of women, their family unit and the increase in capacity and quality of Arabica coffee in a region that previously repressed women and denied them access to credit and ownership.
What is the Project?
The project focuses on coffee production improvement projects.  Initially, the group started by planting 2,500 coffee trees and installing parabolic drying tables.

The mission of the project is centered on family prosperity and generational renewal.  The project focuses on food security, economic stability, entrepreneurship and passing on coffee traditions to younger generations.

 

Coffee production is used as the vehicle to drive important change and development.  By prioritizing gender equality and inclusive decision-making in households and on farms, the group is able to receive credit and ownership.  This empowers other women to join to the group and allows for many of the existing women in the group to take on leadership positions as cooperative members regardless of their status on the farm.
The Details:
La Plata, Huila

Working Equally

Lead through funding by the FNC, psycologists were brought into the community for a period of 3 years to be able to convince the husbands that their wives deserved equal rights and the right to own land and capital.
La Plata, Huila

Technical Training

One of the producers told us that she will go back to the coffee tree as many as 8 times, picking the coffee cherry at the proper time to achieve a high level of quality. These practices learned from technical assistance the program provides.
La Plata, Huila

Best Practices

The program supports teaching producers best practices for wet milling and pulping of the coffee to ensure a high quality end product.
La Plata, Huila

Incentives

Part of the incentive of the project is giving each producer a small amount of discretionary funds.  As an example some will purchase a mobile phone to be able to call the purchasing point to find out the daily published price of coffee.  Others will buy new clothing for themselves and their family.

The results are impressive:

Today, Las Marias is a group of 350 strong women with 50 women in leadership positions, all working as a team on coffee production improvement projects.
  • A comprehensive baseline assessment for the project was completed in 2017. The information gathered will direct and inform subsequent project efforts to ensure effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Additional financial capacity and trainings are necessary to pave the way for access to a revolving credit fund to be used for working capital. This fund is central to the project because it will improve cash flow for the group and present opportunities for quality and efficiency upgrades.
  • The new program has generated excitement and goals for the group.
    • "My dream is to finish my house and have a coffee dryer in it to produce the highest quality of coffee."
    • "My dream is to have my daughters work with me on my farm as professionals who are educated."
    • "I think that when we started with those 50 women, our dream was exportation.  To accomplish that, we obviously had to be sustainable with an excellent product."
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