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Fair Trade USA and Kiva Launch Microlending Program for Fair Trade Farmers

Photo Credit: Flickr CIAT

Fair Trade USA has partnered with nonprofit Kiva to help small-scale coffee farmers access financing, improve crop quality and invest in the future of their families and communities.

The partnership resulted from a successful collaboration last year between Fair Trade USA, Kiva and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters to pilot Kiva’s first agricultural lending program with a Fair Trade coffee cooperative in Mexico. Kiva says its lenders around the world fully funded nearly all of the loans, which benefited hundreds of small farmers working to prepare their fields for harvest.

“Agricultural micro-loans can be a truly powerful avenue to help small-scale farmers invest in better environmental practices, productivity and quality when there are limited options for financing,” said Ben Corey-Moran, Director of Coffee Supply at Fair Trade USA. “In this way, our partnership with Kiva helps maximize the benefits of Fair Trade for coffee growers, and also empowers coffee drinkers to directly engage with farming communities in a unique and unprecedented way.”

One farmer that benefited from the pilot program was Eusebio Virgilio, who received a loan of $2,000 to buy fertilizer for his coffee plants during the rainy season. The 35 tons of coffee Eusebio and his family harvested has already allowed him to repay 100 percent of the loan.

Building on the pilot’s success, Kiva and Fair Trade USA now plan to expand the lending program to two new Fair Trade cooperatives -- Pueblos en Acción Comunitaria in Nicaragua, and Federación Campesina del Cauca in Colombia. Pueblos en Acción Comunitaria, which has already received more than $21,000 in funding, says it plans to invest in field renovation and farm maintenance, so they can deliver the best quality coffee possible.

“Kiva is committed to holistically improving the lives of borrowers, which includes a fair wage, the option to farm organically, and more opportunities for their families,” said Kiva President Premal Shah. “By working with Fair Trade USA and partnering cooperatives, we’re guaranteeing that capital provided by our lenders is going to support borrowers in every aspect of their lives.”

October is Fair Trade Month -- consumers can get involved by looking for the Fair Trade Certified label when they shop, or take it a step further by extending a loan to a coffee farmer through As little as $25 can make a big difference, Kiva says.

This week, fair trade and organic fashion company INDIGENOUS launched an Indiegogo campaign to crowdsource funds to increase access to The Fair Trace Tool, designed to connect consumers with the artisans, farmers and laborers who produce the goods they purchase. The campaign also will fund social impact research with artisans and farmers to bring the story of fair trade and supply chain transparency to the consumer at the point of purchase.

Mike Hower is Marketing Communications Manager at Carbon Lighthouse. With a background on both sides of the communications podium — as a journalist and strategic communicator — he is committed to helping organizations address climate change through sustainability innovation. Previously,… [Read more about Mike Hower]

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