Blog posts from Oikocredit UK
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.
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.
Investors in Oikocredit regularly ask us to do two things: finance organic agriculture and stay away from anything related to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). While we understand both standpoints, we must balance these requests with our mission to empower the disadvantaged, including in situations where alternatives to GMOs cannot be accessed.