St. Mary’s began a partnership with Just Haiti (www.justhaiti.org) in 2011 to provide a direct link to US markets for coffee growers in the area of Carcasse, Haiti. APCCA (Association of Producers of Coffee Carcasse & Alnett) was formed later that year becoming the second coffee association to export their coffee through Just Haiti. The growers received training in the cultivation and sorting of high grade arabica coffee from KDB (the first association to export coffee through Just Haiti). An agronomist was hired to work with APCCA for one year to teach the basics of forming an association, navigating the intricacies of the Haitian export process, building and operating a coffee tree nursery, and organic farming practices to produce superior quality coffee.
APCCA is earning more than three times the fair trade price for their coffee because Just Haiti pays them the fair trade price when the coffee beans are bought but also returns the profit (after transportation, roasting, marketing, and administration) back to the growers. Coffee is the second most valuable commodity traded on international markets behind oil, but coffee growers traditionally receive only a small percentage of the retail value for their coffee. Sustainable commerce must play a significant role in Haiti’s quest to increase the standard of living for its citizens.
St. Mary’s has also funded a small Microfinance project. The initial results are positive in that 96% of the first round of loans have been repaid with the proceeds funding a new round of loans. This initiative will remain small as we gain experience and confidence in its administration. The vast percentage of loan recipients are women who are the backbone of family and community in much of the third world. This initiative allows us to broaden our outreach in the community and increase local economic activity.