The Mujeres en Café are leaders in their communities because they are motivated, inspiring, and talented women. But just like all great leaders, they are also teammates. They work together to learn and better their craft. That’s why the female farmers formed associations that provide equal opportunity for each woman to excel in the coffee industry and beyond.
On our trip back to Huila, we were able to meet with nine associations of women coffee growers. We shared the journey of Project Sunrise coffee with them and introduced them to our new Quality Incentive Program (check out our last blog post for more details on this exciting program). And since a few members of the associations had qualified for the bonus due to their high-scoring coffee beans, we presented these talented Mujeres en Café with their Quality Incentive checks, right there on the top of a mountain in Colombia. The event felt more like a ceremony than a meeting, with a room full of pride and gratitude on all sides. It was an exciting opportunity for us to follow up with our partners and show our appreciation for their hard work. It was also an exciting opportunity for us to learn even more about what our further involvement with these associations means for their future.
When we met with Marleny Arambulo Monje, President of one of these associations, it was clear that her mission is to share. Not only do the groups share techniques with each other but they also share their success with the community, specifically its youngest members. Her association focuses its resources on funding the local school, which she knows will assure the future of their community. As Marleny walked us through the school, she told us, “the partnership with First Watch has served to really solidify and strengthen the association,” allowing them to better equip the school. But more on that to come!
In fact, every “Woman in Coffee” we had the chance to learn from mentioned building a better future for the youth. Ana Lucía Urbana Peña – leader of multiple associations, owner and operator of her own coffee farm and mother of 6 – spoke with us about what she deemed the most important function of the associations. “We work to achieve a better quality of life for our children,” she said, “We’re fighters, we’re warriors, eager and willing to work in order to make a better life for our families.” She sat between two of her children as she spoke, and it was not lost on us that these two young adults were able to further their education because of their mother’s support – a true testament to her achievements.
And celebrating the achievements of the Mujeres en Café was really what our return to Huila was all about. Through these meetings with the associations, we were able to recognize them for their many accomplishments. It’s an honor to call them our partners and we look forward to contributing to their continued success.