Women taking control over the coffee supply chain

Let me start with some statistics about the cup of coffee on your breakfast table in the morning, or in your hand as you travel to work:

  • Of all the human labour that goes into producing coffee, around 80% is done by rural women.
  • One kilo of green coffee – about 2.2 pounds – makes 80 lattes, retailing at about $3 a cup. That is around $240 for a kilo of coffee. 
  • However, women workers are paid a mere $1.75 per day.

These are just some of the reasons why we believe you and other coffee drinkers around the world will actually prefer coffee produced by women social entrepreneurs.

The mission of Java Mountain Coffee is to disrupt and bring to an end, once and for all, the outdated supply chain model of coffee production and distribution in Indonesia which was set up 300 years ago by colonial men for other men with little value add to the local people and our environment.

How the global coffee business is done has hardly changed in all that time. Fairtrade International estimates that 42% of the supply chain in coffee is controlled by just three companies. And, of course, almost 100% of the whole chain is run by men who prefer deal with men, not with the women farmers who grow the beans and bring in the harvest.

On 8 March 2015, International Women's Day, we launched our locally based social enterprise using the Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs) as our guide. We aim to empower one million women to control their farming and their financial dealings with global coffee retailers and drinkers. We aim to plant 3 million seedlings by 2020. We will also plant fruit trees that will give the coffee bushes the vital shade they need and also potentially generate secondary household income. We aim to help women farmers run their businesses in a way that is sustainable and environmentally sound. Our sustainability and nursery programme will help disseminate tree seedlings to women’s cooperatives to help them raise household incomes.

But what is it that makes Java Mountain Coffee so different to the coffee you can buy now?

When we produce our coffee, it will be the first time in over 300 years that the Java beans will be carefully micro-roasted within days after harvesting by local women, packaged fresh and sent to global markets ready for sale.

In Indonesia, so many of our country’s resources and commodities are exported in their natural state, and international companies reap the value-added rewards of processing them elsewhere. However, this is an outdated supply chain model that is not sustainable for our people and planet. Modern transport, modern processing techniques and modern packaging technology all mean that there is no reason why Indonesian farmers, most of them women, cannot earn these premiums on their produce for themselves.

We want to move away from the current system which means that green coffee in its raw and unprocessed form is stored here in Indonesia after harvest, sometimes for months, then sent to the global markets where again it is stored before being roasted. And even then it can sit in warehouses for months or years before consumers drink it.

But Java Mountain Coffee will represent another ‘first’. It would be the first time globally that women take charge of the coffee supply chain to claim their right to equitable treatment within that chain. At least 10% of the value of every sale will be invested in women’s farming through our ‘sustainability’ programme. This programme has been developed in collaboration with global certification programmes, such as Fairtrade, RainForest Alliance, UTZ Certified.  Our organic and carbon-neutral coffee has also been certified by the GoldStandard Foundation.

While these global certification programmes have contributed to helping farmers get a fairer deal for their produce, they have done little to address the question of gender equality. Yet this is key, since so much farming is done by women and most receive only a fraction of the value of their crops.

Fairtrade International, for instance, has been operating for 27 years and has its roots from Java. Yet, among its 1.5 million certified farmer and worker members, it has just 25% women farmer and worker participation. At least it has gender data – none of the other certification programmes holds any specific information about how many participants or producers are women.

Fairtrade International’s estimate is that while women do over 80% of the coffee production, they earn 7% or less of the possible income their labour generates within the coffee supply chain.

Please help us to change this for good.

Relevant Tags:

  • You must be logged in to post a comment
Please enter a comment
  • Zaza Fetriza
    Blessings from Java Indonesia Joy & Hala, thank you for your very kind words.
  • Zaza Fetriza
    Blessings Hala and Joy, thank you for your very kind words of support. To create change at the bottom of a supply chain first established and today still dominated mostly by men is challenging.
  • Hala Bugaighis
    Inspiring, I like how you creatively designed a whole supply chain system that will not only increase women participation in economy but to provide better quality to the customers. I wish you all the best.
  • Joy Eze
    I love women farmers worldwide,because they always put in their best in farming.I believe coffee produce by women are the best and most people will really love to drink it.And this will help in empowering more women economically and achieving your set goal by 2020.
4 of 4 comments