Empowering Women in Honduras to Access Markets for their Sustainable Coffee

An interview with Orieta Pinto, President of the Honduras Chapter of the International Women in Coffee Alliance (AMUCAFE), a partner of Swisscontact’s Inclusive Coffee project

During the recent launch of the National Gender in Coffee Policy of Honduras, the National Coffee Council of Honduras (CONACAFE), shared that coffee contributes with over 32% to the agricultural GDP of Honduras and at least 20% of that contribution can be attributed to women.

According to the International Coffee Organization (ICO) 2018 Gender Equality in the Coffee Sector Report, due to gender inequalities across dimensions of empowerment, the economic returns of women in agriculture are often lower than those of their male peers. The report also states that differences in productivity and profitability between male and female led farms is mainly derived from the difference in access to resources. The story is not any different at the trade link of the Coffee Global Value Chain.

Orieta Pinto, President of the Honduras Chapter of the International Women in Coffee Alliance (AMUCAFE)

Orieta, in recent years different technical assistance programs have reached women coffee producers at farm level. Honduras has taken important steps and now has a National Gender in Coffee Policy. From your perspective as President of the Honduras chapter of the International Women in Coffee Alliance ( 391 members), what is the status of trade and commercial capabilities for women in coffee in Honduras? How would you describe the experience of women with regards to accessing international markets for their sustainable coffee?  

There has been an increased interest in offering our alliance and its members, technical assistance programs. In some cases, the commercial outlook still focuses on traditional links to markets, which not necessarily translates into higher returns for their coffee. Women have challenges in accessing financing for their crops, as only a few have land ownership which serves as collateral for loans. In some cases, the returns for the sale of women-produced coffee comes through the male figures in their families: fathers or husbands.  

In the case of our organization, some of the projects we are working with have been more focused on the production link rather than on access-to-markets capacity building. Learning and discovering tools and best practices related to trade and commercial promotion will allow us to evaluate the potential of our members and to provide services for direct commercialization of our coffees, thus contributing to better returns for our members and long-term financial sustainability for our organization.

How would you describe the participation of women in key decision-making commercial positions in coops and export companies in Honduras? 

Women participation in decision-making commercial positions is very small, probably less than 10%, but not because women lack the potential or the involvement. About 95% of export transactions in coffee in Honduras are handled by women (preparation of documents, correspondence, permits, sample shipping, etc..), and they do a very precise and important job. Yet, when management positions open, very few times are women elected for these positions. The few that have had the opportunity, have excelled, performing  export activities with transparency, attention to detail, quality, and good communication.  

What is your vision for the next 5 to 10 years for women in coffee in Honduras, given the institutional strengthening AMUCAFE is engaging in, with regards to trade promotion services, through the Café Inclusivo project?  

We hope to develop the knowledge and abilities to perform our own export transactions, to generate profit to distribute among our alliance, and to highlight the fine work women are doing in every exporting company in our country. We will have the tools to advise and support our members in trade promotion issues. We hope that more women achieve leadership and decision-making positions, in key organizations that will reduce the gender gap while contributing to create better business opportunities. 

As a result of the new capabilities in trade promotion that AMUCAFE will develop through Café Inclusivo in the following years, what kind of trade partnerships do you envision, to link Honduran women producers and women-led producer groups and exporting companies, with international markets?

We would like to establish long-term relationships with buyers with a vision to recognize and support women’s work, based on trust and continuous improvement. The 391 ladies that are part of AMUCAFE, the Honduras chapter of the International Women in Coffee Alliance, represent the different links in the value chain, and they are a true inspiration, source of energy and commitment to the sustainability and growth of their coffee related businesses as well as the growth and well-being of their families and communities. Café Inclusivo is creating opportunities for growth and long-term commercial partnerships for our members.

About Café Inclusivo

Given the asymmetries and gaps in knowledge, rights to ownership, economic and political agency and decision making that women in coffee face in Honduras, Swisscontact’s Café Inclusivo project facilitates tools to close knowledge and experience gaps and strengthen business related decision-making capabilities in women, by building capacities in areas related to Inclusive Trade Promotion: assessing export capacities, evaluating and selecting markets, engaging in market intelligence, fulfilling market access requirements, identifying potential buyers and implementing tools to successfully participate in international promotional activities. 

For more information, please contact Liliana Sánchez Iglesias at [email protected] and https://mujeresencafehn.org/en/home/ contact Orieta Pinto at [email protected]

This project is part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-financed by SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA).