Cofan Women’s Association

Cofan Women’s Association

The Cofan, an indigenous group in the Ecuadorian Amazon, have long struggled to make ends meet in the coffee business. It’s not hard to understand why: middlemen pay them a measly $22 for 100 pounds of coffee beans. Moreover, growing coffee plants requires cutting down primary rainforest and heavy use of pesticides. It’s a lose-lose proposition.

Working with Selva Vida Sin Fronteras, an Ecuadorian charitable organization, we have found a solution that generates much-needed cash flow for the Cofan, while protecting the Amazon rainforest and affirming Cofan cultural traditions. The solution is 100% sustainably-made handicrafts.

We help the ‘Cofan Women’s Association’ by selling their beautiful handicrafts to eco-conscious consumers here in the US, giving 100% of the proceeds back to the community.

Our product line consists of high quality bags, bracelets, necklaces and hammocks, all 100% sustainably made from forest materials sourced by Cofan hunters-gatherers.

Products are showcased on our mobile display unit. Customers scan a QR code to pay. It’s quick, secure and easy.

Our Etsy e-commerce store launched in December 2023.

For every product sold, the Cofan plant a hardwood tree, to help reverse the damage caused by decades of coffee cultivation.

The community uses the proceeds to purchase essentials for their families, including not only food and medicine but also fabric to make their own clothes.

What’s next?

A portion of the proceeds from the handicrafts business is now being invested into new housing for Cofan families, made from premium grade bamboo, among the best eco-friendly building materials on the planet. Its rate of self-generation is incredibly high, with some species growing up to three feet in 24 hours. A perennial grass, it’s cut from the top and continues to grow without having to be replanted after harvest. It’s also an effective carbon sink.

© 2022 Institute for Business, Sustainability & Society