Aldea Global hits the road with Oikocredit US to share their coffee and the story of the success of agricultural finance.
For decades, Nicaragua was caught in a bloody revolution. Thousands were killed as the war hit every part of the country. Farmers left their farms and many fled Nicaragua. The economy ground to a halt.
After the war ended, coffee production became one of the key drivers of economic recovery. Today, the coffee industry creates 200,000 jobs annually, and more than 40,000 families depend on coffee as their main source of income. Ten percent of those families are members of Oikocredit partner Aldea Global.
Coffee production assists in post-war recovery
In 1992, twenty-two families in Jinotega, a lush and mountainous region two hours from Managua, came together to start a farmers' association. The families wanted to work together on social projects including food security and soil and water conservation as a way to recover from the war. Eight years later, Aldea Global had attracted more families to join them and had 123 members. At that point, most of their grant-based social projects were ending, so they decided to do a survey of farmers to find out how the association could help them. They found that farmers wanted, in this order, 1) access to credit, 2) a market to sell their produce, and 3) to stay organized.
Aldea Global set out on a mission to learn as much as they could about the market for produce. As the "bread basket" of Nicaragua, Jinotega produces a large quantity of vegetables as well as 65% of the country's coffee. Aldea Global began to make connections to the international and specialty coffee industry. They were so successful that they began attracting more members so that by 2012 Aldea Global had 1,000 members and were selling coffee internationally.
In 2007 Aldea Global became an Oikocredit partner, using capital to provide agricultural loans to their members. Access to agricultural microfinance became one of the main drivers of growth, moving Aldea from an association of 1,000 farmer members in 2012 to more than 11,000 in 2018. Aldea Global remains true to their roots, building gender equity into their governance model (at least 40% of the general assembly must consist of women), and providing social assistance like financial literacy training, community building, and education financing.
Aldea Global visits the US
In late October Aldea Global's Vice Manager of Specialty Coffee, Ivania Rivera, visited Seattle and Pittsburgh to share the story of Aldea Global and the connection between the coffee we drink and the prosperity of smallholder farmers in Nicaragua. Oikocredit US teamed up with Counter Culture Coffee's training lab in Seattle and Building New Hope in Pittsburgh, to hold two events showcasing Aldea Global's coffee and projects. We sourced Aldea's coffee from Fulcrum Roasters based in Seattle.
In Seattle, Ivania had the chance to meet Blas Alfaro (pictured above) of Fulcrum Coffee, who has a strong belief in purchasing beans from socially conscious cooperatives and is a passionate supporter of Aldea Global. On a tour of Fulcrum's roastery, we caught a picture of Ivania with a bag of Aldea Global's beans (below).
In Pittsburgh, more than fifty people came out to sample Aldea's coffee and to learn more about how Fair Trade certification and agricultural finance positively impacts the lives of farmers.
Finally, during Ivania's visit she had the chance to share the farmer's perspective on coffee during an interview with Seattle Coffee Gear. Check out the video here.
If we didn't see you at one of these events, we hope to connect with you in person soon!