Fairtrade coffee beans

A new three-year project launched this month aims to empower women coffee farmers in Kenya

Fairtrade Africa and the Fairtrade Foundation have launched a three-year project that will empower women coffee farmers in Kenya, and grow the East African market for Fairtrade certified coffee.

Despite contributing up to 70% of the labour required to plant, grow and harvest coffee, women farmers in Kenya rarely own land or coffee bushes. These assets usually belong to the men in the family and as a result, women are unable to join farming cooperatives or earn an income for their labour. But research shows that when women are in control of more household income, there are improved outcomes in areas such as health, education and investments. But research shows that when women are in control of more household income, there are improved outcomes in areas such as health, education and investments.

Fairtrade’s Growing Women in Coffee project will encourage the transfer of coffee bush ownership to 150 women coffee farmers in the Kapkiyai Cooperative, enabling them to earn an independent income for the first time. A further 300 women within the Kabngetuny Cooperative, who have already benefitted from an asset-transfer programme, will receive training on good agricultural practices with the aim of increasing the yield and quality of their coffee. They will also benefit from the construction of ‘green energy’ biogas units for their homes, which will reduce exposure to smoke and reduce the time they spend collecting firewood.

Kipkelion Union, which brings together 32 cooperatives including Kapkiyai and Kabngetuny, will be supported by Fairtrade Africa to develop and market a branded ‘women’s coffee’ for sale within Kenya. It will also be able to share the learnings from the pilot with the other 30 cooperatives that it represents.

Commenting on the launch of the project, Wangeci Gitata, Fundraising and Partnerships Manager for Fairtrade Africa, said: "We are very excited; women from the three co-operatives will be trained on good agricultural practices as well as the use of biogas for their homes. The women will have the opportunity to brand their coffee for the domestic market."

David Finlay, Fundraising Manager at Fairtrade Foundation, said: “We are looking forward to working with Fairtrade Africa on this project, which will directly empower hundreds of women farmers and has the potential to benefit thousands more. By working with the women in these co-operatives to roast, grind, package and sell their beans as ‘women’s coffee’, we hope they will be able to increase the amount they sell on Fairtrade terms, which will bring benefits for their whole community”.

The Growing Women in Coffee project will be funded from January 2015 to December 2017 by a grant of £389,831 from the Big Lottery Fund (the first such grant it has made to Fairtrade), plus additional funding from the Guernsey Overseas Aid Commission, and will be delivered with support from local partners, Solidaridad Eastern and Central Africa Expertise Center (SECAEC) and Kenya National Federation of Agricultural Producers (KENFAP).

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For more information, images or interviews please contact Nicola Frame, Media & PR Manager for Fairtrade Foundation, on 020 7440 8597 or

For more information about the Big Lottery Fund, please contact its Press Office on 020 7211 1888 or 07867 500572 (out-of-hours)

Notes to Editors

About the Fairtrade Foundation

The Fairtrade Foundation is an independent certification body which licenses the use of the FAIRTRADE Mark on products which meet international Fairtrade standards. This independent consumer label appears on products to show that disadvantaged producers are getting a better deal from trade. Today, more than 1.3 million people – farmers and workers – across more than 70 developing countries benefit from the international Fairtrade system.

Over 4,500 products have been licensed to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark including coffee, tea, herbal teas, chocolate, cocoa, sugar, bananas, grapes, pineapples, mangoes, avocados, apples, pears, plums, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, satsumas, clementines, mandarins, lychees, coconuts, dried fruit, juices, smoothies, biscuits, cakes & snacks, honey, jams & preserves, chutney & sauces, rice, quinoa, herbs &  spices, seeds, nuts & nut oil, wines, beers, rum, confectionary, muesli, cereal bars, yoghurt, ice-cream, flowers, sports balls, sugar body scrub and cotton products including clothing, homeware, cloth toys, cotton wool, olive oil, gold, silver and platinum.

Public awareness of the FAIRTRADE Mark continues to be high in 2013, at a level of 77%. Estimated retail sales of Fairtrade products in 2013 exceeded £1.7 billion, a 12% increase on sales of £1.53 billion in 2012.

About Fairtrade Africa

Fairtrade Africa is the independent non-profit umbrella organisation representing all Fairtrade certified producers in Africa. We promote trade justice in Africa to champion socio-economic development on the continent.

Fairtrade Africa is owned by its members, who are African producer organisations certified against international Fairtrade standards producing traditional export commodities such as coffee, cocoa, tea, cotton, bananas, mango and non-traditional commodities including shea butter and rooibos tea. Currently, the organisation represents over 860,000 producers across 32 countries in Africa.

Fairtrade Africa is a member of Fairtrade International, the Standard setting and coordinating body of Fairtrade, based in Bonn, Germany. We support African farmers and workers achieve and maintain Fairtrade certification. We work through primary structures such as product groups, country partnerships and regional networks which enable members to have a strong voice in the governance and management of the organisation.

Fairtrade Africa also helps certified farmers and workers increase their productivity – and their capacity to trade – by providing technical, organisational and financial capacity building. We actively stimulate intra-African trade opportunities for our members through networking and partnerships with regional and sub-regional bodies within Africa.

About the Big Lottery Fund

  • Big Lottery Fund is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery.
  • The Fund is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since its inception in 2004 it has awarded close to £6bn.
  • In the year ending 31 March 2013, 28% of total National Lottery revenue was awarded to projects. Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £32 billion has been raised and more than 450,000 grants awarded.