By Gabriela Albuja
With CanopyBridge.com we aim to make it easier for buyers and sellers to find each other and connect on line – but at some point there´s still no substitute for meeting face to face.
Building on the success of last year´s “Forest Economies” prize, we launched a competitive award to provide financial support for negotiation trips that would help close deals for sustainable natural products in Latin America. By helping buyers visit potential suppliers in the tropics, or by supporting community-based enterprises to meet directly with interested buyers, this support aims to help build trust and solid long-term relationships.
We´re thrilled with the two standout initiatives selected for support:
Sedna Coffee Roasters is a California-based small batch roaster that sells specialty coffee sourced from women with sustainable practices across the globe. Its passionate owner, Mery Santos, is also the president of the International Women´s Coffee Alliance and is very emphatic about the need to empower women farmers, improve their livelihoods, and pay them a fair price for their products. This two-fold mission of selling the best coffee in the world and helping women succeed has been a constant through the 20 years Mery has been working in the coffee sector. Part of her daily motivation comes from searching for more producers that can bring great flavors from forests to cups. In this context, Sedna plans to use the competition´s prize to visit women producers from “Asociación de Cooperación al Desarrollo Integral de Huehuetenango,” Guatemala and do precisely that: improve livelihoods and buy high quality organic coffee.
The other winner is Cooperativa Agraria Cafe Perene, composed of 400 small arabica coffee producers from the Junin region in central Peru. Their coffee comes from agroforestry systems, which help conserve the soil, attract pollinators, and maintain biodiversity. Organic and Fairtrade certified, coffee from CAC Perene is the main source of income for these small farmers who rely on the organization´s ability to commercialize the product. Julio Cesar Romero, General Manager of the cooperative, emphasizes that the organization has a commitment to improve the livelihood of its small scale producers, their families, and their communities. The prize will help Perene consolidate this year´s sale of 20 tons of organic and Fairtrade certified coffee to a coffee company based in Germany.
Both trips, to Germany and Guatemala, are planned to occur at the beginning of next year when we will get back to you with more news on how the negotiations unfold.
Special thanks to judges from Canopy Bridge, Forest Trends, Environmental Defense Fund, and Ecotore who reviewed applications and interviewed finalists. USAID, through the AIME program, is providing financial support to make these face-to-face meetings happen.
Canopy Bridge is planning to launch a new call for proposals to support similar sourcing and negotiation trips in the months ahead. If you´re developing a commercial relationship in Latin America that needs help in taking the next step to build a trading relationship, let us know and we´ll keep you posted!