Update Report: Colombian Women's Project



Colombian coffee farming families have been facing multiple environmental and social challenges in the last several years. Women play a significant role in the management of the farms and in the development of their communities, yet they are on an uneven playing field regarding access to training, tools, and resources that could be used to better improve their coffee, daily lives, and overall prosperity in their communities. Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea Co. feels fortunate for the opportunity to work with Colombian Women's Project. Seeing their commitment to creating a more equitable space for women in coffee production has been a humbling and rewarding experience and one that we're excited to see grow over the years. 

The local coffee farmers from Tolima and Huila are working diligently to improve conditions within their communities and enhance their access to training and resources. Due to their remote locations these regions encounter numerous challenges, such as limited access to basic services like clean water and reliable electricity. Moreover, it is recognized that women in the coffee industry often face disparities; despite playing significant roles in coffee production and processing. These are areas where women have been at a disadvantage, historically speaking, and are therefore given much less opportunities to training and resources. Enhancing their production skills and consequently, the quality of their product, could directly improve their livelihoods and contribute to a greater equity in the industry. 

Main Goal 
Improve the livelihood of women farmers of Huila and Tolima departments through an increase in coffee quality, access to clean water, and training. 

  • Equipment
    • Distribute water purifiers and first aid kits to 30 producer families.
    • Deliver eco-efficient stoves to three farms within the project to meet specific needs that improve the quality of life and health of the families, reduce the environmental impact generated by traditional stoves, and ensure more efficient use of energy resources.
    • Provide energy generators that contribute to the quality of coffee in the processing stage of three producing farms with the potential to impact the neighboring communities.
  • Education
    • Execute a training and education program for coffee growers from Asorbis, Cadibrine, and Cooprocafees.
    • Make fertilization recommendations based on soil analysis results to reduce production costs and maximize productivity. 
  • Gender Equality
    • Training was provided on gender equity through games and round table questions. Highlighting international and national gaps to empower women, while making concepts of gender norms, roles, and stereotypes visible.
  • Safe Drinking Water
    • The importance of clean water and its impact on health, as well as purification methods and techniques were discussed throughout the program.
  • Soil & Fertilization Analysis
    • The program to made emphasis on the importance of taking samples of soil for the preparation of a fertilization plan, the most relevant soil data (pH, MO, macro, and micro-elements), liming practices, practices, when and how to fertilize.
  • Global warming & Carbon Footprint
    • In the program concepts regarding global warming were worked on. Specifically, how carbon footprints can be reduced by following EUDR standards and how they can implement them in their day to day operations. 
  • School kits for the kids!
    • From the start of the initiative, part of the goal for the Colombian Women's Project was to make a positive impact to their children's education. 45 school kits were handed out as well as support in the form of tutoring. This will not only motivate the children in their education and also by providing them with the necessary tools to improve their living conditions through education.

Results & Impacts in Numbers 

  • Soil Analysis 
    • 28 community farms soil analysis and recommendation of fertilization. 
  • Water Filters & First Aid Kits
    • 30 families with access to drinking water and elements for attention of First Aid Emergency. 
  • Women & Men Trained in Total
    • 32 women and 10 men
  • Training Subjects
    • 4 empowerment of women. 
    • Safe and potable water. 
    • Fertilization and soil analysis. 
    • Carbon footprint and global warming education.
  • Stoves & Generators
    • 3 ecological stovetops with thermoelectric devices delivered
    • 2 energy generators

Summary of Involvement
Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea Co. is dedicated to helping small coffee farms where we can. Over the past eight years, VMCT has been financially responsible for assisting the Colombian Women's Project in sourcing the tools/ equipment to maintain their coffee processing, educational training, basic medical needs, as well as classrooms for the women's children. It was a simple idea... they are located in one the premier coffee growing regions in the world with a need for more support. We are an independent coffee roaster who wanted to make a direct and positive impact in how we source our beans. The project started in earnest by supplying them with a few generators and now years later, the Colombian Women's Project is one of the top farms VMCT purchases their raw green beans from. Testimonials from the women involved have shown that the efforts made in this region to promote equity between the genders have made a true difference in their day to day lives. The women feel that this project has made a positive impact in their lives, strengthening their roles as leaders in the coffee industry, and promoting a more prosperous future for their communities. 

Written by Jen Biro