Double Your Donation When You Give to Buy the San Miguel Escobar Cooperative a Computer.
From their humble beginnings 10 years ago, the San Miguel Escobar cooperative has come a long way. Started by 7 coffee farmers who were inspired to make a better living from coffee by working together, the group has grown to a 30-member cooperative. In the past couple years they have vertically integrated their supply chain by taking out financing from De la Gente to build a small-scale but fully-functional dry mill and roasting facility. They are currently milling the coffee from four of our partner cooperatives, roasting all of our locally sold coffee, while commercializing more than one container of their own coffee. Most members now make a better living primarily from coffee-related activities tied to the co-op, though many take part in other income generating activities.
De la Gente has been proud to work hand in hand with San Miguel and its members along the way. This was the first cooperative we partnered with in Guatemala, we provided the financing and funding for the purchase of most of the cooperative's equipment, as well as training on topics ranging from pest control to coffee production to quality evaluation. De la Gente is also the cooperative's primary buyer, purchasing the bulk of production (in 2016, our contract was for about 55,000 lbs of coffee). Through this partnership, we've put into practice our values of collaboration, empowerment, and mutual learning.
In 2015, San Miguel recognized that it had outgrown its original, informal structure, and reorganized as a full-fledged company, owned and run by its members. The group, now formally Café Artesanal San Miguel, but still just "San Miguel" to most of us, rented a roastery & office space, elected a new board of directors, and instituted clearer rules for things like financial management and equipment maintenance. It wasn't all easy going, though. After a few months in their new space, a couple of farmers asked if we would be willing to purchase a set of chairs for them - it turns out they had been conducting board meetings while sitting on the floor!
San Miguel’s growth requires greater administrative capacity, part of which means better information technology, to manage new tasks such as organizing the export of the coffee from Guatemala to the US. Though this is less glamorous than the scent of rare coffee varieties or new processing methods, we've seen how crucial administrative efficiency is for building strong and effective farmers organizations. As San Miguel takes on more responsibility for exporting coffee, and improves its management of accounting, payments, and inventories, they have requested support in purchasing a computer and printer. We are proud to continue to work alongside San Miguel and support them in this next stage of growth and we are asking you to join us in supporting them.
We have a donor who has already pledged $500 to this project but we need to raise $500 more to make the purchase. Double your impact when you make a contribution today and support small scale coffee producers and cooperatives grow, achieve sustainability, and compete in the global coffee industry.