Words by Marcel Reyes, SDCN Blog Senior Editor.
Women in Business (WIB) in association with the International Women's Coffee Alliance (IWCA) invite you to attend “A Night of Conscious Coffee” at the San Diego Central Library located at 330 Park Boulevard on Mar. 10, 2016, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.
The evening will begin with a tour of the Library, progress to a tour of coffee vendors, roasters, and businesses to learn about coffee from farm to cup. Pastry and coffee tasting flights will be available. The event will close with "A Small Section of the World" documentary film and a panel discussion with special guests Martin Diedrich of Kean Coffee and Lisa Lindgren, human-trafficking expert.
“A Small Section of the World,” is an inspiring documentary about the Asomobi women’s coffee association in Costa Rica who manage to create a sustainable living through coffee against all odds. Following the screening, a panel discussion will speak to the synergy that entrepreneurship has with not only improving economic stations, but also better positioning women to be safe in their domestic situations.
In September 2015, when Karen Cebreros, Co-Founder of the IWCA, toured the Central Library in downtown San Diego, she was just looking for a little space to host a special joint meeting between the IWCA and her colleagues in Women in Business. She was hoping the rental cost would fit the meeting budget.
They toured the massive 350-seat auditorium with adult programming and special events coordinator, Erwin Magbanua, and discussed “A Small Section of the World,” a film they planned to watch together, as a milestone for joining forces toward the empowerment of women at origin worldwide. Magbanua was moved, asked if the public could possibly attend, and waived the considerable rental fee. Cebreros’s special meeting was upgraded to a special event.
The Women of Coffee Micro-finance Fund will do more than stimulate families economically. It will save women’s lives. “The issue of Women in Coffee is connected directly to the issue of human trafficking and abuse,” Cebreros reflects on the mission behind the mission. “Until this March 10th event, we’ve never really had the right venue to explore it.”
Last year, “A Small Section of the World” was screened at the Museum of Photographic Arts as a “Women in Coffee Film Event”, where it made $7,000 for the Women Of Coffee Micro-finance Fund, in one night, through the generosity of 141 people. That night impacted the growth of the Mexican micro-finance bank and opened the Colombian micro-finance bank. This past January 2016 saw more momentum when the IWCA closed a global grant with Rotary in the Southern California district for $50,000 to go to the Guatemalan micro-finance bank.
“97% of women pay back their micro-finance loans no matter what country or social strata,” Cebreros explains. “When you put money in women’s hands, it is paid back.”
Measurable empowerment is key because, explains Cebreros, without tangible value, these women become vulnerable to abuse: “We found out that 65% of women are abused in Costa Rica, in the cities. It’s even worse in the country, at 85%.” With microcredit, cottage industries start adding revenue streams that flow into every area of life. “It stimulates the local economies. And more importantly, men tend to stop beating women when they view them as a better asset. Sadly, some see their wives as no different from goats and coffee.” When a woman demonstrates hard cash value, she stands a better chance of being saved.
“Organic was born in San Diego. Fair trade was born in San Diego,” Karen asserts establishing San Diego as the origin, and corner of "Conscious Coffee" in the US. “But, for a long time, nothing was changing for women at origin. Women In Coffee is born [as part of the mission of the IWCA]. We adopt the same bylaws of WIB [Women in Business]. Fast forward—we reach even more women today. In April, at the Annual Specialty Coffee Association Show, we’re signing our 20th chapter, in Cameroon.”
The San Diego coffee community of professionals and enthusiasts are invited to this free, social, and educational event at the beautiful San Diego Central Library.