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Empowering Women Coffee Farmers in Nicaragua

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SOPPEXCCA (Asociación de Desarrollo Integral Productivo Cocolense—Productive Development Association of Cocolá) is a Fair Trade and organically certified coffee grower cooperative located in the jungles of Jinotega, Nicaragua, where 65% of the nation’s coffee is grown. The coffee cooperative is known for its emphasis on gender inclusion and the empowerment of women farmers; 40 percent of its members are women.

Client Profile: SOPPEXCCA

SOPPEXCCA is a well-recognized name in the Nicaraguan coffee industry. Run by a charismatic woman, general manager Fátima Ismael, the organization has played an important role in helping affiliated female farmers gain titles to land and to produce, manage, and market their own coffee.

“A woman’s independence can only be achieved through economic autonomy and awareness,” says Fatima. SOPPEXCCA produces Las Hermanas coffee, a Fair Trade-certified brand supplied by women producers. Profits from sales of Las Hermanas coffee are invested in prevention programs for cervical cancer, directly benefiting women in the cooperative and their families. “Through SOPPEXCCA, many of us have benefited and our lives have changed,” says cooperative member Adelila Lumbí Hernández.

Ana María González Narváez is a member of the Cooperativa Julio Hernández, another cooperative that supplies coffee beans to SOPPEXCCA. Before she was involved with SOPPEXCCA, she says, “I was very humble. I didn’t want anyone to ask my opinion. Now, I dare anyone to try and stop me!” Now she plans to build a new house with financing from SOPPEXCCA. Previous loans from SOPPEXCCA enabled her to buy cattle, sheep, and additional land.

As part of its emphasis on producer members’ well-being, the organization finances scholarship programs for members’ children and also organizes music and art classes. In order for a cooperative to belong to SOPPEXCCA, 100 percent of its members’ children must finish primary school. SOPPEXCCA has constructed three rural schools, and has established and managed a music school in two communities. SOPPEXCCA also works toward strengthening the financial health of its producer members through social projects, including farm renovation.