PORTLAND, OREGON — Grow Ahead, a digital crowdfunding platform that supports farmer-led climate resiliency projects around the world, is launching a new campaign to crowdfund $10,000 in micro-loans for farmer-led savings and credit fund "FondoMás,” a project of Mexican non-profit Impacto Café, to support ten smallholder coffee producers diversify into organic honey production in Chiapas, Mexico.
“Through micro-loans, the small-scale farmers at FondoMás can implement income diversification programs that stabilize rural communities and provide important ecosystem services,” says Ryan Zinn, Director of Grow Ahead. “By equipping farmers with the skills, knowledge, and resources needed to design and lead their own honey initiatives, they are able to secure their livelihoods and contribute to their own community-based development.”
Chiapas is the state with the second most marginalized population in Mexico, with rural communities depending solely on agricultural activities for subsistence. Coffee is a mainstay in the state’s economy and small-scale farmers produce 80 percent of the crop on plots of land less than five hectares. Diversified, climate-resilient development initiatives have been largely ignored by national and international financial institutions and these farmers lack access to resources to expand their production. Producers are also highly dependent on corrupt intermediaries (known as “coyotes”) and loan sharks who charge interest rates of 8-10 percent to access market opportunities, making it difficult for farmers to earn an income.
“The Grow Ahead initiative is a fabulous and innovative opportunity to connect responsible consumers directly with small producers who need funds to diversify their coffee production by combining it with honey production,” says Manel Model, Founder and Strategic Impact Advisor for Coffee at Impacto Café. “At Impacto Café, we want to promote this type of initiative, guarantee the traceability of resources and demonstrate and appreciate the tremendous impact of each dollar contributed.”
The campaign will give responsible consumers and organizations the opportunity to finance the micro-loans to ten coffee farmers who will develop organic honey production as part of their operations, thereby improving the income and living conditions of their families. The program will also help connect farmers to major national buyers while eliminating dependency on predatory intermediaries.
“Diversification is a key component of regenerative organic agriculture systems and one of our best allies in both developing resilient farming systems and tackling climate change,” says Alexandra Groome, Program Manager for Grow Ahead. “We hope conscious individuals and organizations who want to have a direct impact on improving the livelihood of these rural communities will join us in supporting this fundraising campaign.”
This campaign is the first of many as a part of Grow Ahead’s revolving loan program. The program is designed to finance micro-loans for farmer-developed resiliency projects, such as soil conservation and yield-boosting compost operations, in order to bridge the resource and funding gap.
To learn more about the Impacto Café campaign on Grow Ahead’s website: