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Café Amanda: An alternative for vulnerable women

Realpe’s vision is to expand this Colombian-based coffee industry entrepreneurship program throughout Latin America

Café Amanda, a humanitarian and economic development project founded and led by Andrés Felipe Realpe Delgado ’16, was first among 215 competitors in the 2019 United Nations Development Program for its positive impact on vulnerable women on Colombia.

Café Amanda provides training and support to help women succeed in the coffee business, with the ultimate goal of improving the income, health, education, and well-being of their families and future generations.

Andrés Felipe began Café Amanda in his native Colombia, determined to transform the lives of women in vulnerable situations. The project seeks to help women with disabilities, victims of domestic abuse, those who have emerged from violent conflict in their home countries, and/or those who are at direct or indirect risk of participation in illegal activity.

Andrés credits Zamorano with providing him the opportunity to meet people of differing nationalities, and to exchange creative ideas and innovative solutions with them about problems faced by the entire agricultural value chain. After graduation, Andrés returned home with a new vision and a reaffirmed commitment to helping women in disadvantaged situations.

Coffee as a life alternative

Café Amanda is named after a long-time former employee of the Felipe family farm. Amanda had many responsibilities ranging from coffee cultivation to roasting. She also helped care for Andrés and taught him everything she had learned in the coffee business.

After Amanda stopped showing up for work during a particularly important harvest, the family learned that she had been recruited by a guerrilla group. They had no knowledge of her whereabouts. At that point, Andrés vowed to help people experiencing similar situations.

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During its first year, Café Amanda focused on engaging a pilot group of women with experience in the coffee business. This strategy allowed them to approach global development organizations such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM) that serve groups emerging from regional or national conflicts.

The second stage of Café Amanda will offer support to women who are at risk of abandoning their coffee farms, which may or may not be their primary source of income.

In its third stage, the project will provide training for women with established coffee operations. Trainings will focus on utilization of improved coffee varieties and agricultural practices, with the aims of improved efficiency and product quality, increased farm income and enhanced quality of life.

Expansion in Latin America

According to Realpe, trainings are designed to introduce low-cost, innovative ideas for many points in the coffee value chain, for example, improving the quality of coffee drying. “The success of the project is based on trust and transparency throughout the process. For this reason, we are committed to working in a fair and just way that creates the long-term relationships that support social progress and social responsibility.”

With this in mind, Andrés seeks to capture social value and transform it into an economic value for the women that the organization serves. In addition to training, Café Amanda supports its clients by developing positioning strategies within the coffee market, helping present clients’ businesses and the project to investors, and pursuing grants for infrastructure and expanded training.

Ultimately, Andrés envisions expanding this dream throughout Latin America.

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