Thanks to the support of private individuals, companies, and the coffee industry, we reached our goal of starting entrepreneurship programs for young people in three coffee-growing communities. Our Rural Business Workshops launched in Tanzania, Trifinio and Colombia.

Of course, none of this could have been accomplished without you! And today, we want to share with you the progress of the group in Colombia.

Our Colombia Coffee Kids project kicked-off late last summer in the Department of Risaralda in the western part of the country. This is a key coffee growing region, with over 19,000 households working in coffee farming. Coffee Kids is working with two established organizations with strong roots in the region to reach young people who are eager to take advantage of an opportunity to gain the skills in both business and coffee growing.

In this region there is an interest to motivate and support youth to stay on farm, but the approach was lacking. Youth have little opportunity to participate in either agricultural or business training and the contents of these training are not typically at the appropriate experience or cognitive level for these youth. At the same time, young people have fewer opportunities to access credits or micro-credits to start their own business and implement new skills.

 

Update from the Field: Colombia

Based on the understanding of this need in the region, the focus of Coffee Kids is to develop both interpersonal skills and technical expertise to enable rural youth to create projects on their farms, in their communities, and in their municipality. The program is designed to awaken the entrepreneurial spirit in each of the young people, to encourage them to believe in themselves, to view the farm as an enterprise, and learn what it means to run a business. For these young men and women, the chance to gain business skills to run better coffee farms and businesses is life changing.

The program began in the municipality of La Celia with three interactive sessions to ensure potential participants and families understood the goals and expectations for the youth. It was also an opportunity for our team on the ground to learn the interests and expectations of the participants. After this initial phase, 30 young men and women signed-up to participate in the first phase of training. This training included both life skills and business skills. Life skills training emphasized teamwork, creativity, self-confidence, planning, and strategy. Business skills concentrated on accounting, business plan creation, and savings. Members of the local community donated their time and expertise to support the formulation of suitable and viable business proposals. At the end of 2016, youth were in the phase of refining their business plans to be able to submit them for approval for seed capital.

 

Update from the Field: Colombia

 

 

So, what’s next?

In 2017, the youth of La Celia will be submitting their business plans for review by a committee made up of members from the local coffee cooperative, community leaders, and one member of the Colombia Coffee Kids team. As the youth receive seed capital they will be matched with mentors who can help track and support their progress. Also, we will be expanding the program in a second region called Quinchia and more young farmers will be getting training, mentorship, and seed capital for their businesses.

Coffee Kids works directly with the next generation of coffee farmers. We engage with them, and with the industry, empowering young men and women with entrepreneurship skills, mentorship, and funding to start their own businesses. Our programs help young people create a secure, steady, and year-round source of income, allowing them to continue coffee farming in their communities. With your generous support, we are confident 2017 we will be able to build on the success from last year!

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