Walter

AGE: 21
COMMUNITY: DOLORES MERENDON, OCTOTPEQUE

Walter, 25, has been in coffee for a decade, and learned to work the fields at his mother’s side. He lives in Dolores Merendon, Ocotepeque, Honduras, a town of 4,000 where coffee is the only industry. Walter is ambitious, but also committed to his family. “I wanted to leave for the U.S. a few years ago because there are not so many opportunities, but I just couldn’t do it.”

With our help, he and his brother started a small but growing shop selling products the farmers need. His sister runs the shop when he’s working in the field. Today he’s learning English and reinvesting his profit in the community. “Now I have something to look forward to here. My dream is to build a store in Dolores right in the center area to have a wider market. I want to stay home and help my family have a better life.”

Partners

UNIOCAFE (Honduras), APOLO (Guatemala) and El Tunel (El Salvador) are farmer associations based in in the Trifinio region, the border area between Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The farmer organizations offer services such as marketing, input supply, and technical assistance to its members and act as facilitators for social initiatives in the region. Together, the associations represent close to 1000 farmers.

The Need

Young men and women in the coffee-growing regions of Trifinio feel deeply connected to their land and have expressed a desire to stay and farm coffee. They want to honor the coffee tradition of their families while also modernizing their practices. They also want to explore ways to increase and diversify their income. Unfortunately, while they know there are opportunities to strengthen their coffee communities through the use of new agricultural and business methods, the lack of available training, mentorship, and capital have kept these methods out of reach.

The Project

There is a Coffee Kids component within a broader Generaciones program which consists of training, mentoring, and a Youth Coffee Challenge Fund. The program started by training an enthusiastic and knowledgeable group of youth trainers who then replicated workshops in over 15 communities in the Trifinio Area, reaching over 150 youth. Over a period of a few months these young men and women will participate in hands-on, interactive entrepreneurial training, using their new skills to develop business plans. These plans will be entered into a competition for seed funding from the Youth Coffee Challenge Fund. The best business plans will receive funding as well as mentorship from an established coffee entrepreneur.

The Outcome

Young farmers working together, innovating, and jointly administering funds to invest in rural small businesses within their communities will provide social cohesion and inter-generational exchange. It will also create an incentive for youth to take a broader role on their family farms, or to take on farming as a vocation.