Honduras Coffee Kids UNIOCAFE 2020/2021 is now arriving, and it’s an especially meaningful lot as it marks an important transition for its producers and their community. After four years of close collaboration, Coffee Kids has wrapped up its program with UNIOCAFE, knowing that the training, tools and entrepreneurial mindset it brought to the farmer organization will be enthusiastically carried forward.
Coffee Kids became part of the nonprofit foundation Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) in 2015 and implements multiple, consecutive, impact-focused project cycles that programmatically build on one another. Its objective is to encourage and empower the next generation of coffee producers, by focusing on three key areas: training (including agronomy, life skills and entrepreneurship), financing (making it feasible for young people to take action and invest in their communities) and mentorship (pairing experienced community members with young participants).
In 2017, Coffee Kids began working with the local farmer organization Unión de Organizaciones Ocotepecanas de Café (UNIOCAFE) and 39 members of its Youth Committee. Since then, its members have thrived. In 2020, the group’s accomplishments included:
• expanding the Coffee Kids program to 149 Youth Committee members;
• investing $13,000 in seed capital to 20 youth-driven new businesses;
• securing $42,000 for a revolving fund*, for financing future endeavors; and
• hosting 75 percent of trainings virtually, with an average participation of 25 youth members per session.
HRNS approached 2020 with the goal of ending the last year of program support with a successful transition. In addition to the points above, and while dealing with the challenges of the pandemic and naturals disasters in the region, it also helped implement two key, advocating changes within the coffee organization for the years to come:
• the development of operational rules in an official document, establishing the rights and duties of the Youth Committee, as well as the parent organization; and
• securing one of seven seats on the UNIOCAFE Board of Directors for a member of the Youth Committee.
“The establishment and institutionalization of structures for youth, and their integration into the existing adult structures in their communities and farmer organizations, is one of the essential aspects for the long-term maintenance of the successes achieved even after the end of the project,” says Program Manager Stephan Koch.
“Therefore, we are very satisfied with the important steps UNIOCAFE and the UNIOCAFE Youth Committee have taken together with the support of Coffee Kids in the last years.”
The Coffee Kids program also created two Rural Training Hubs in 2020, with 56 young graduates, including 26 women. Of the 56, 20 graduates established entrepreneurial ventures, including coffee shops, coffee nurseries and a bird farm.
Additionally, several graduates with strong leadership skills were selected for a Climate Pioneers project funded by Peet’s Coffee and will be working with their communities to spread knowledge about climate-change resilience and be on the search for innovative business ideas that could result from engaging in these new activities.
“We want our youth to go into the future strengthened and as independent as possible after the project period, and to be able to build on the successes of the project,” Stephan added. “This is important for the group itself, and its sense of ownership, and this is promising for new youth to be able to get a chance.”
We encourage you to check out the Coffee Kids 2020 Annual Report for more details about its work in Guatemala and Tanzania, as well as its work through the pandemic.
"Our foundation has local offices on the ground, with a great network, and they are always ready and happy to support and facilitate if issues come up among the graduated groups or in the farmer organization,” Stephan offered in conclusion. “While the Coffee Kids program will now shift to new organizations in Honduras, these youth have developed skills and tools that we know will enable them to continue to grow and thrive in their communities.” •
*The revolving fund was created with funds from the International Development Bank and a co-investment by UNIOCAFE, with additional funds contributed by Coffee Kids in 2020.
Photos by Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung