Blog posts from Oikocredit UK
“In Africa, there is nothing as important as empowering a woman. When you empower a woman, it’s as if you are helping the whole country. The Kenyan Women Microfinance Bank has empowered me with many things: with education, with knowledge and with money.”-Grace Njoroge
What does an organic Fairtrade specialty coffee and social impact investing have to do with empowering some of the poorest women in the world?
In rural Minas Gerais, Brazil’s biggest coffee-growing state, women used to support their husbands on small family farms but had little involvement or say in the business or farming decisions. This changed forever in 2006, when Oikocredit investee partner, Coopfam (Cooperativa dos Agricultores Familiares de Poço Fundo e Região) - a smallholder coffee co-operative, started to focus on empowering women to play an equal role in producing the Arabica coffee that had been a part of their lives for decades.
According to UN estimates, the world population is expected to grow from about seven billion currently to more than nine billion by 2050. This means that farmers around the world are going to have to produce a lot more food, while limiting their impact on land, water and the global climate.
Oikocredit Agricultural Partner, Union communale des Producteurs d'Ananas d'Alladal, Benin, Africa (UPCA-A) Photograph: Nicolas Villaume
One in four of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas, often relying on a few staple crops to meet their daily needs and generate a small income. They are also more likely to be affected by climate change since many scientists believe it to be responsible for the unpredictable, extreme droughts and rains that destroy harvests and lives. Since these rural communities have limited access to finance and technical support to build their smallholdings and create greater resilience, they rarely attain the economic empowerment they need to break free from the poverty cycle.
From desert land, to shop, to a jolly good cup of organic, herbal tea
Chamomile lawn, Egypt. Photography, SEKEM
Over the decades, much of the previously lush, fertile land surrounding the River Nile has been destroyed by urban expansion or overtaken by desert tundra. The small canals which feed into the Nile overflow with rubbish and sewage, damaging the local ecosystem and irrigation of small parcels of land used by smallholder farmers. For local communities who have lived off the land for centuries, this renders the environment unhealthy and the soil useless for generating subsistence crops or a modest income.