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COOPCAB: Rebuilding a Coffee Business in Haiti

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COOPCAB, a Fair Trade coffee cooperative, is located in the mountainous village of Thiotte in southeast Haiti, an area of extreme poverty. In a country where less than 1.5 percent of the land is forested, COOPCAB operates in one of Haiti’s few remaining tracts of rainforest. Through its reforestation program and purchase of fairly priced specialty coffee, COOPCAB provides a powerful link between environmental conservation and economic benefit for its 5,000 producer members.

Client Profile: COOPCAB

Founded in 1999, COOPCAB, a network of nine primary-level coffee cooperatives, produces specialty-grade arabica coffee. By maintaining high quality control standards and providing its members with technical assistance, COOPCAB is able to charge higher prices for its export product and contribute to increased incomes for its members.

This year, facilitated by Root Capital financing, COOPCAB expects to export six times as much coffee as last year. This has allowed them to source from an additional 1,000 producers and has generated stable and increased incomes for its member base.

As Luc Ezekiel Colo, the vice president of one of COOPCAB’s primary level members, says, “Our coffee is sent out all throughout the world. It is the only way we can earn more money for the community.”

The cooperative has also introduced a reforestation program among its members. Specialty coffee requires shade to grow, so COOPCAB annually delivers more than 100,000 coffee and tree seedlings to its producer members to renew coffee plants and plant trees that provide valuable shade.

As COOPCAB General Manager Nelson Robinson recounts, “Before, parts of the coffee farms were practically abandoned by the community. But with the money that Root Capital lent to COOPCAB, we were able to regenerate this land which was once abandoned.”

The organization has seen its sales in volume double since it began receiving financing from Root Capital and the producer community in Thiotte has seen benefits from the sale of their coffee to markets in Japan, Europe, and the U.S. Fair trade premiums earned by producer members have contributed to a school and a medical clinic in the community.