July 11, 2016
Founded in 1988, the Society’s Community Development Investment (CDI) Program gives small loans (up to $25K) to worthy groups working to better the lives of those in poverty.
Today we’re featuring Equal Exchange‘s El Guaba project in Ecuador.
The story of El Guabo, one of Equal Exchange’s farmer partners, is a success story in grassroots organizing. In 1998, 14 small-scale banana farmers in southwest Ecuador took the tremendous risk of sending one container (about 38,400 lbs) of bananas to Europe with the hope of selling the produce directly to a supermarket. In taking this risk, the farmers sought to eliminate the middleman and take back control. With the sale of their first container, the El Guabo Association of Small Banana Producers was born. The entrepreneurs transformed themselves from individual, marginalized growers into a democratically-run organization with access to the international market.
Today, El Guabo is a farmer-run co-operative (co-op) with 350 small-scale banana farmers. Each farmer is committed to improving the quality of life for themselves and their communities. In addition to earning a fair price for their bananas, the co-op receives an additional $1 per case (approx. 40 lbs of bananas) as a Fair Trade social premium. El Guabo’s members voted to spend the premium on education, health care, retirement, environmental projects and infrastructure improvements. Additionally, El Guabo is giving back to the local and global community by sharing their highly successful cooperative model with other producer groups in Ecuador and throughout the world.
Other organizations supported by CDI: