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Grounds for Empowerment: Making Coffee Work for Women

Raised toward our $10,000 Goal
85 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on December 15, at 04:00 PM EST
Project Owners

Grounds for Empowerment Update

November 30, 2017

GFE Supporters,


It was great to see many of you at our 2nd annual community forum events in October. We hope you enjoyed meeting our four visiting growers (Alexa, Ivania, Ramona and Sara). They enjoyed getting to see Atlanta, but more importantly, they had a chance to boost their business skills through a number of executive education style sessions related to coffee marketing, storytelling, and more.


As we move into 2018, we wanted to share two opportunities to support and experience Grounds for Empowerment:


GFE Holiday Coffee Sale > Give the Gift of Empowerment This Holiday Season

Give the gift of empowerment this holiday season by purchasing Grounds for Empowerment coffee for your friends and family. Specialty coffee from all four of our growers is available and can be ordered online and shipped anywhere in the U.S. at A portion of each sale is contributed back by our roaster (Vega Coffee) to support the business training and program travel for our women growers. Please keep in mind coffee ordered by Dec 2, will be delivered Dec 15. If it is convenient for you to ship and pickup at Emory’s Goizueta Business School, please enter discount code “SEG” at checkout to save $6 per order.  


GFE Origin Trip > Explore Nicaragua’s Coffee Country with Social Enterprise @ Goizueta January 31-February 4, 2018

Since 2009, Social Enterprise @ Goizueta (SE@G) has been traveling to Latin America to learn more about the amazing folks who work at the core of our specialty coffee industry. Goizueta’s 2018 Grounds for Empowerment (GFE) Origin Trip, led by Professor Peter Roberts, exposes alumni and other professional travelers to the challenges faced by specialty coffee farmers in Nicaragua who are working hard to turn their promising farms into prosperous small businesses.  


Learn more and register online by December 8 


Thanks for considering giving the gift of empowerment this holiday season!  We hope that some of you can join us as we visit coffee country in 2018!


The GFE Team

Grounds for Empowerment Events

October 17, 2017

Hello friends and supporters of Grounds for Empowerment!

Social Enterprise @ Goizueta is pleased to welcome our cohort of women specialty coffee farmers participating in Grounds for Empowerment (GFE) – Ramona Diaz, Ivania Calderon, Alexa Marin, and Sara Corrales – to Atlanta and Goizueta Business School for the GFE Community Forum this week, through October 20. The forum will feature critical coffee industry networking sessions and community events that will boost participants’ skills and their connections to end markets. 


Our public events include:

1. Thursday, October 19, 11 AM -1 PM at King Plow Art Center

Coffee Cupping with GFE growers and our friends at Counter Culture Coffee

Free event.  RSVP suggested at

2. Thursday, October 19, 5-7:30 PM at Love is Love Farm

Farm Dinner fundraiser for GFE featuring great local chefs and mixologists.

$75 per ticket.  Tickets can be purchased at


We look forward to introducing you all to Ramona, Ivania, Alexa, and Sara.


If you have any questions, please reach out to GFE Forum Lead Ben Shaum at

8,500-plus reasons to celebrate. Thank you for your support.

December 21, 2016

Congratulations and thank you! You have contributed to a valuable and successful crowd funding campaign and helped raise $8,517! We set an ambitious goal for an inspiring mission—to make coffee work for more women. We are all thrilled to have so many people supporting Ivania, Ramona, and the GFE coffee program. Your gift will help fund our growers’ trip to the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Global Expo this April in Seattle. Ivania and Ramona will meet with roasters, participate in industry trainings, and connect with U.S.-based mentors at the world’s largest coffee event of the year!

If you would like to continue to support our program, consider purchasing some of our excellent coffee from Ivania and Ramona’s farms! In addition to drinking great coffee, you are empowering women as 40 percent of the retail price of a 12-ounce bag is invested back in programs that support our growers. Visit our online store to order coffee each month or email Ben Shaum to sign up for a 6-month or 12-month subscription.

Please keep up with the progress of our program in 2017 on our website and on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Thanks again for your support. Look for updates coming your way regarding harvest season, student trips to Nicaragua, and the Global Expo experience.

We are over 75%! Help us reach our goal in the next 5 days.

December 09, 2016

We’re only 5 days away from the end of our campaign! We only need to raise $2,258 more to fulfill our $10,000 goal.

Your donation will help fund a trip for Ivania and Ramona to Seattle this spring for the Global Specialty Coffee Expo, which is the largest specialty coffee expo in the world. This event will allow them to build their network and sell their coffee to top roasters in North America.

Let’s push hard to hit $10,000 by December 14. Please continue to share our campaign with friends, family, and colleagues by sharing this link via email and on social media:

Thank you for all you have done to help us get so close to our goal.

We have a matching challenge on gifts to GFE!

December 01, 2016

Thank you so much for your support.

We are thrilled to announce that we have a matching opportunity to match gifts 1:1 up to $1,000 dollars made to the campaign!  We are halfway through our campaign, and with your support we have raised $4,190! Your gift will allow us to help make coffee work for Ivania and Ramona. In order for us to complete our full mission, we need to continue to push toward our $10,000 goal. Please continue to support the campaign by helping us spread the word about our new matching opportunity. To qualify for the match, gifts must be made by 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, December 3.

With this funding, our farmers will be able to take invaluable trips to Atlanta and Seattle!  Thanks for your support. Let’s do this!

Meet our growers!

November 23, 2016

The Grounds for Empowerment inaugural cohort of growers is amazing.  It’s our pleasure to introduce you to Ivania and Ramona.

Ivania Calderon is part of the co-op La Providencia. Her farm is located in Wiwili de Jinotega. This beautiful and remote farm, named El Alboroto, covers approximately 30 manzanas (51 acres) and is located on Kilambé Mountain, which provides the perfect weather to grow high-quality coffee. El Alboroto means “the fuss.” The specific origin of the name is unknown, but as the story goes, it was given to the farm because of all of the commotion created by a variety of farm animals and at various family gatherings. When locals are asked of the whereabouts of her farm, people respond, “Just follow the noise, ‘the fuss’ is that way!”

Ramona del Socorro is both an excellent coffee farmer and the gender representative at her co-op, which is part of PRODECOOP, a large coffee cooperative located in Esteli, Nicaragua. She has a 2.5 manzana (4.25 acre) coffee farm, Finca El Oasis, that she runs with her husband and four children. Ramona comes from a family who has worked in the coffee industry for generations, and she is passing that love and experience to her husband (who had never worked in coffee before they met).

Ramona’s pride and joy is found in the hard work that she invests into her farm, and the quality of her coffee absolutely reflects that hard work. A significant portion of Ramona’s motivation comes from her family. As a third generation coffee farmer, she obviously sees coffee in her family’s future, and she also believes that the farm is key to her children’s education.

Last week, Ivania and Ramona were here in Atlanta for a week-long community forum. Thanks to support from donors like you, this visit was made possible.  We can’t say thank you enough!

Please continue to spread the word and help make this campaign a success. 

Let’s Make Coffee Work for Women

November 16, 2016

Thank you for your interest in the Grounds for Empowerment Program. We are so grateful for all of the support in getting this campaign started, and we can’t wait to start making the coffee industry work for women! This campaign is designed to help women coffee farmers network, travel, and attend conferences so that they can develop themselves as coffee professionals, grow their networks, and earn more income. When women farmers succeed, their communities thrive with them. Women farmers in coffee growing countries frequently invest in their communities when they do well, and this adds significant value to your support of these farmers.

The first step in empowering the growers is our hosting them here in Atlanta for a week-long Community Forum (November 13-19). This week will include networking with premier industry leaders in the Atlanta area including THRIVE Coffee Farmers, Counter Culture Coffee, and Café Campesino, and an opportunity to meet our Atlanta community. For those of you in the Atlanta area, please meet our visiting growers this Saturday morning, November 19, at the Freedom Farmers Market at the Carter Center.

Then in the spring, we are traveling to Seattle with the coffee growers to network at the largest specialty coffee conference in America, SCAA. This will offer excellent opportunities for the farmers to develop their networks and prepare them to navigate the complicated coffee industry.

Thanks for your support and help spread the word! We look forward to a great campaign.

Choose a giving level


Paying It Forward Friend

This gift may seem small, but it is roughly six times the current commodity coffee price per pound that most farmers are paid for their specialty coffee.


Weekly Warrior

This gift is the equivalent to what the average American spends on coffee in a week.


Green Machine

Your gift can help cover the sustainable development of 12 bags of coffee.


Cupping Sponsor

Your gift can help us cover the costs of special GFE coffee cupping that puts Ivania’s and Ramona’s coffees in front of specialty coffee roasters from Atlanta, Georgia. This is a critical moment for GFE growers to showcase themselves and their coffees to potential buyers.


Network Travel Sponsor

Your gift can help cover the travel costs for our two GFE farmers as they visit Atlanta and Seattle to engage with customers, supporters, and other coffee professionals—these connections are the most important part of our program.


Booth Buddy

Your gift can help cover approximately half the cost of a booth for the GFE program and growers at the Specialty Coffee Association of America Expo in Seattle.


Three Sixty-Five Club Member

Your gift, according to the SCAA, is equal to the average annual income of a smallholder coffee farmer (or a male grower … women growers earn much less).