La Union Regional de Pequeños Productores de Cafe Huatusco(or, La Union Regional) is a member-owned, Fair Trade Certified coffee cooperative based in the state of Veracruz, a region defined by high- altitude coffee production. Today, it has more than 2,000 members in over 40 communities. Most are small farmers with less than 5 hectares of land.
La Union Regional is one of the few coffee cooperatives in Veracruz that has earned Fair Trade certification. It ensures that members are paid fair prices and wages, work in safe conditions, protect the environment, and earn community development funds to empower and improve their community. La Union is also one of the few in Mexico to own its own coffee processing plant that gathers, processes, and exports coffee for its members.
Kiva lenders can make loans to coffee growers who belong to La Union Regional. Three types of loans appear on the Kiva website:
1)Coffee production loansto help farmers expand their existing crop yields and increase their income. With a maximum term of 12 months, these loans are designed to fit the agricultural cycle, allowing farmers to make purchases during planting season and repay following the harvest. Coffee production loans help farmers maintain and grow their fields by cleaning, pruning, fertilizing, and conserving the grounds, delivering water, and replanting trees needed to shade the coffee plants.
2)Organic conversion loanshelp farmers transition from conventional to organic coffee production methods. Farmers cite high costs as the main barrier to converting to organic production. With Kiva loans, they have a great opportunity to use sustainable practices that help the environment and limit the effects of climate change in their regions. Given the length of the conversion process, farmers have the option to utilize loans that have three- to five-year terms.
3)Field renewal loanshelp farmers swap out their old coffee plants that are no longer producing at capacity for new plants. New plants generally take three years to produce at capacity, temporarily reducing crop yield. Given the length of the renewal process, farmers have the option to utilize loans that have three- to five-year terms.
For the organic conversion loans and the field renewal loans, borrowers will pay interest only for the first two years and pay principal beginning in the third year.
All three types of loans help La Union Regional farmers smooth their finances throughout the year, insulating them and their families from unexpected expenses like medical bills, home repairs, and more. In addition to loans, La Union Regional provides additional technical support to its members receiving loans to help them achieve their long-term coffee production goals.
La Union Regional is enthusiastically backed byFair Trade USAandGreen Mountain CoffeeRoasters, one of the world’s largest purchasers of Fair Trade coffee. Kiva lenders can purchase coffee produced by La Union Regional’s members through Green Mountain and its subsidiary brands, including Tully’s Coffee.
Because La Union Regional’s core business is not microfinance, there is some level of additional risk for lenders. Kiva’s partnership with La Union Regional is unique and unprecedented. For this reason, Kiva has not assigned the organization a risk rating.