Investing in the future of coffee in Nicaragua // January 9th, 2014
This year, one of our program partners in Nicaragua, the Organization of Northern Coffee Cooperatives (CECOCAFEN), is launching a Youth Entrepreneurship Scholarship project. This scholarship is unique in that it not only provides funds to continue studying, it also provides training and real-world work experience that allows students to give back to their communities.
The project will provide scholarships for 273 children of coffee farmers to continue their studies and enable them to serve as future employees and leaders of the 13 coffee cooperatives that make up CECOCAFEN.
CECOCAFEN’s scholarship program began in 2002 with Coffee Kids’ support. Because of our donors’ support over the years, 2,546 scholarships have been awarded and dozens of graduates are now working as CECOCAFEN staff. Many of these graduates serve on the boards and committees of their cooperatives and are entrusted with high-level duties ranging from management of internal inspection (organic and fair trade certification) to serving as managers and board members of CECOCAFEN.
The Youth Entrepreneurship Scholarship project builds upon the foundations of CECOCAFEN’s Community Leadership Scholarship project (2009 – 2013) and will continue to encourage and develop young professionals and leaders who demonstrate a strong work ethic and commitment to the principles of equality, solidarity, cooperation and community engagement. This new stage of CECOCAFEN’s scholarship program will improve project sustainability by involving scholarship recipients in productive diversification initiatives that will also benefit participating families. Cooperative directors will oversee business planning and development with support from Groups of Women Saving in Solidarity (GMAS), who have extensive experience in developing and managing local businesses and savings groups.
Scholarship projects such as this one are just one way that we can invest in the youth who will one day farm coffee. It’s an investment in the future of coffee production.