Chances are you are reading this story over a delicious cup of coffee. Perhaps even with a piece of chocolate. Every day, we drink two billion “cups of comfort” together, and a billion people eat chocolate of one form or another. Unfortunately, in the coffee and cocoa industry, outdated farming methods, a lack of knowledge and unequal opportunities in the chain cause the yield to be distributed unevenly. Supported by the DOEN Foundation, the Progreso Foundation has for years been working to ensure the fair distribution of industry yields.
Fair opportunities for farmers
Coffee and cocoa farmers have little influence on the price of their products and are powerless against the major traders and market leaders. The low prices farmers receive often result in malnutrition, child labour, limited access to education and healthcare, and similar hardships. Progreso helps small-scale farmers in Latin America, Africa and Asia to earn a fair income and improve their living conditions. With targeted technical training and advice, the non-profit organization helps farmers’ cooperatives to professionalize. They in turn help maintain a healthy and sustainable environment, facilitate market access and provide loans that enable the organizations to trade and build a good track record. This enables the coops to grow into strong independent organizations.
Innovative and inspiring pioneer
The Progreso Foundation was founded in 1998 as the “Green Development Foundation” or GDF. The DOEN Foundation and Rabobank Foundation soon saw the initiative’s potential and stepped in to provide support. Their support helps Progreso to achieve its objectives and to respond to trends and opportunities the organization recognizes at an early stage. This in turn creates several spin-offs focusing on specific aspects of the coffee and cocoa chain. Examples here include Proclimate (renewable energy), This Side Up (direct sourcing) and Grow Ahead (crowdfunding). And Progreso’s work doesn’t go unnoticed. In 2017, Progreso won the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) Sustainability Award – an award for innovative projects or business models that increase sustainability in the coffee industry, thus inspiring others.
Beyco digital coffee trading platform
Supported by DOEN as a catalyst, Progreso established the independent digital coffee trading platform Beyco in 2018. This enables coffee buyers, sellers and impact investors from around the world to connect directly (digitally) to negotiate sales, sign export contracts and trade coffee. Farmers and producer cooperatives have full ownership of their data and the platform facilitates traceability and transparency throughout the coffee value chain. Beyco now has 416 users from 38 countries. There are 350 active offers on the platform and 90 contracts have been closed.
And this is just the beginning…
Thanks to Progreso’s work, more than 100 small farming cooperatives in 18 countries have grown to become mature companies controlling the sale of their products. Progreso has strengthened more than 100 coops representing more than 300,000 farmers in 18 countries around the world. And it has also inspired other organizations to set fair trade coffee and chocolate as the standard.