Growing coffee is an enterprise that is becoming more precarious. Growers are facing an array of challenges that make their business more uncertain. These challenges include climate change, plant disease, labor shortages, and price fluctuations.
Help for Young Coffee Growers
But there is help and hope for growers, especially the growers of tomorrow, in the form of nonprofits set up specifically to provide assistance to smallholder growers. One such group is called Coffee Kids (CoffeeKids.org). This is an organization that helps newbies in the coffee growing business get off to a good start. Coffee Kids trains people in how to start their own coffee businesses, offers mentoring and even seed money to get them going.
The mission of Coffee Kids is to help the next generation of coffee growers thrive and reach their full potential. The organization also works with people throughout the entire coffee supply chain.
Smallholder farmers make up four-fifths of the farming families around the world, but produce only one-fifth of the world’s coffee. The average smallholder coffee grower owns about five acres of land and produces one to two coffee harvests each year, earning under $2,500 for each harvest. The average age for coffee growers is 56, raising the question of who will fill the need for growers in the future.
Coffee Kids is trying to help fill that need. The training offered by Coffee Kids covers a variety of areas, from the financial aspects of operating a business to the nuts-and-bolts of growing coffee, such as how to increase yields and quality of the beans.
The seed money benefits are two-fold – helping to get new businesses started, as well as giving new coffee growers experience in making financial decisions. And Coffee Kids also helps to connect new, young growers with established coffee enterprises in a mentoring program, exposing the novices to the workings of the coffee supply chain.
History of Coffee Kids
Coffee Kids began operations about 30 years ago. It was the first non-profit organization in the specialty coffee industry that was devoted to improving coffee growers’ quality of life. The organization has since worked with more than 200,000 families of coffee growers in more than 400 towns.
In 2015, Coffee Kids was incorporated into the Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung Company of North America, a nonprofit with a network in Latin America, Africa and Asia that provides support to coffee growers.