Would you like to see for yourself how Rotary leads efforts across the globe to build strong international relationships, improve lives and create a better world? Next month, club member extraordinaire Karen Cebreros will be conducting a tour of several Rotary projects made possible by a recent Global Grant: providing small loans to women coffee producers in Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico. Rotarians, family and friends are invited to join Karen from February 17th to 27th for this fabulous opportunity to visit coffee co-ops, learn how women in coffee benefit from microfinance, and gain a new appreciation for how your generous donations and Rotary’s global reach are furthering the cause of growing local economies world-wide.
The microloans funded by this Global Grant help women to increase their skills and income, improve food security and protect their coffee forests. This will bring critical stability to women, their families and communities as these female entrepreneurs build profitable and sustainable businesses.
The program, a partnership of Earth's Choice/Women in Coffee Microfinance (WCMF) and the International Women's Coffee Alliance (IWCA), targets women who have proven themselves as specialty coffee producers but who do not have access to affordable financial services, do not have consistent income streams and lack sufficient business skills to manage a loan and a growing business.  The Global Grant will give these women the opportunity to successfully manage a small loan (from $200 to $400) in a group setting. One hundred percent of loans have been repaid so far, giving the women the skills and business background to take on larger loans.
Statistics show that 40 percent of Latin American’s "poorest of the poor" (those who live on less than $4.00 a day) are women. Women coffee producers in Latin America are greatly affected by many issues such as deforestation, migration to urban areas for low paying jobs, drug trafficking, political unrest, land mines left from civil war and a current outbreak of Hemileia vastatrix or "coffee leaf rust" (la roya) that has reduced coffee production in Mexico and Guatemala by 40 to 65 percent. With these funds, Rotary and its partner organizations will be able to assist approximately 400 families.