The Chain Collaborative (TCC) is an organization that co-creates opportunities and strengthens capacities for community-led change in the coffee sector. They build relationships with local leaders and their community-based organizations in coffee-producing regions, putting change-making power into the hands of under-resourced leaders who are the most equipped to drive impact in their own communities.
TCC firmly believes that sustainable change comes from local leadership. Communities have the vision and the agency to decide what is best for them. They have the capacity to design projects and the organization to carry them out on their own terms. They have the power to achieve the change they have envisioned for themselves.
Photo Credit: Esquil Rocha
Coffee represents a multibillion-dollar industry that is held up and supported by the hard work and labor of an estimated 12.5 million smallholder farmers around the world. Currently, 44% of these 12.5 million smallholder coffee farmers are said to live below the internationally recognized poverty line, with 22% living in extreme poverty.
The poverty and marginalization faced by these individuals and their families are reflected through food insecurity, low educational attainment, lack of access to healthcare, and increasing outmigration from their farming communities to a nearby city or another country. These disparities are further exacerbated by gender inequalities, climate change, increasingly volatile market prices, and an inequitable power structure in which coffee buyers–rather than coffee producers–reap the benefits of the value chain. TCC’s unique and innovative approach recognizes the multi-faceted needs in coffee communities, and intentionally resources local leaders to develop culturally-specific solutions that create social, economic, and environmental impact.
Photo Credit: Colectivo Rokunin
Through their flagship program, the Community-Led Development Incubator, TCC builds relationships with emerging organizations in coffee-growing regions of Latin America and East Africa, providing access to ﬁrst-time funding for their community-driven initiatives. Each participant designs, executes, and measures a community project in collaboration with their community members, leading to increased income generation, knowledge development, women and youth participation in agriculture, greater climate resilience, and more. Since its start in 2022, the Community-Led Development Incubator Program has fostered and funded the launch of projects in ten communities across Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia, Ecuador, Rwanda, DR Congo and Uganda.
You can learn more about TCC and their Community-Led Development Incubator Program in this video:
Jovemcafé is a group of 25 young women coffee entrepreneurs in Com, Guatemala. The group entered the Incubator with plans to launch a tree nursery to generate additional income through the sale of shade tree seedlings. Prior to joining the Incubator, Jovemcafé had participated in farming and gender training, but never had the opportunity to develop their own initiative. After practicing TCC-recommended community visioning exercises, several members of the organization demonstrated increased leadership capacity and formed a committee to design a second community-led plan as part of the Incubator: a collective egg-laying hen business to increase income between coffee harvest seasons. The group is now bringing in $1,000 USD extra per month through their new initiatives. Thanks to their engagement with TCC, Jovemcafé members also report having increased conﬁdence, connections, and capacity to continue turning their future project ideas into realities.
“Through working on the Incubator project, my self-esteem has significantly increased. Now I trust myself and I know that I can achieve what I want. Also, other groups of young people have been motivated by our work and ask me for advice. This inspires me to keep going.” Paula Perez, Jovemcafé Leader (Guatemala)
Photo Credit: Witoca Coffee
MiiR x TCC
MiiR has supported TCC through grants and in-kind donations as they kickstarted the Community-Led Development Incubator in 2022. MiiR’s support to date has funded two of the groups that are participating in the Latin American Incubator, and future support will finance the East African program.
As the first-ever Incubator cohort finishes the program, participants are now joining the TCC Alumni Network. This Network will offer an opportunity for Incubator participants who have completed the program to continue growing and fostering relationships with TCC and other participants and allies. Alumni will be able to further their community initiatives, expand their networks and access coffee education with TCC’s support.
TCC is also gearing up for their annual auction! Launching on #GivingTuesday, the auction will be held between November 29th and December 8th. It is a great chance to bid on fun gifts and support an important cause. This year, all proceeds will support their core program, the Community-Led Development Incubator. Follow them on social media to place your bids!
To learn more about their work you can visit www.thechaincollaborative.org
Photo Credit: Esquil Rocha