IWCA in the News & Past Events
2013 IWCA 10th Annual Breakfast
On Friday, March 22nd 2013, The International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) hosted their annual fund-raising luncheon, which took place at the 102nd Annual National Coffee Association convention in San Francisco. This year, men and women from throughout the industry attended to see guest speaker Grace Hightower De Niro and hear how she embarked on her journey into coffee. After NCA President Robert Nelson and IWCA President Grace Mena kicked off the luncheon, Grace Hightower De Niro took the stage for an intimate event.
She revealed that her interest in Rwanda was first peaked after watching the movie Hotel Rwanda. Later she heard the country’s president giving a speech, trying to encourage unification. She remembers him pleading, “We want trade, not aid.” Once she visited the country, “it was the people that dominated my impression,” says Grace. “Seeing the women in the farms was a reflection of my past and my childhood.”
“The people of Rwanda take pride in the products they produce,” Grace continues. “”The women had such a sense of sincerity, the kids were full of life, and the men supported and valued the women who made it all possible.” She launched her Coffee of Grace line in 2011, after teaming up with Tom and Patty Mitchell of Strategic Coffee Concepts, which is now distributed in Whole Foods throughout the East Coast. “I set out on this venture with four
major goals: to bring awareness, to produce a high quality product, to work directly with the farmers to ensure they were being paid a premium, and to support women being brought into the business side of the coffee sector- not just helping in the farms.”
Attendees of the luncheon also got to sample some of Grace’s coffees, with notes of floral, coco and citrus, with a hint of sweetness and a soft mouth feel.
“This project not only helped the people, and women, of Rwanda, but it also was empowering for me…it gave me more confidence in myself,” Grace concluded. “My advice to women would be to continue to nurture the power within you; express and explore your passions by forgetting about gender. For men, I would say to not be intimidated by a women’s creativity. Support our power and share the message with your brothers. For the coffee industry, I would suggest we continue to raise awareness of the people behind it all. The world doesn’t appreciate and value that part of it as much as we should.”
With the success of fund-raising events such as the Annual Luncheon, the IWCA continues to empower the women in the international coffee community to achieve meaningful and sustainable lives; and strives to encourage and recognize the participation of women in all aspects of the coffee industry.
About Grace: Grace Hightower De Niro is an American mother, philanthropist, actress and singer. As a board member of the New York Women’s Foundation and a member of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance, Grace strives to empower women and their communities to achieve meaningful and sustainable lives through their work. Grace’s love of coffee and dedication to empowering women worldwide led her to launch “Grace Hightower & Coffees of Rwanda,” with the mission of enhancing the lives of the Rwandan people by providing opportunities to market their unique products to the world. Grace also serves as a board member of the New York Fund for Public Schools, as well as a member of Ronald Perlman’s Women’s Heart Health Advisory Council. She has been honored for her work and dedication by the New York Women’s Foundation and the American Cancer Society of New York City. Grace resides in New York City with her husband, actor Robert De Niro, and their two children.
2010 World Export Development Forum, China
SCAA 2010 IWCA Breakfast
The popular “Marketplace” returned in 2010, featuring artwork, crafts, and jewelry from the IWCA chapters in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua. All proceeds from the “Marketplace” went directly to the participating chapters.
World Coffee Conference 2010
The Guatemalan National Coffee Association, Anacafé, in cooperation with the government of Guatemala and the International Coffee Organization, hosted the third World Coffee Conference in Guatemala City, February 26–28, 2010. Approximately 1,517 people from 76 countries participated in the event, and the IWCA played a prominent role at the conference and had its 2010 annual meeting in conjunction with this event.
The Social Sustainability segment of the conference was coordinated and presented by the IWCA. Moderated by the Secretary-General, InterAfrican Coffee Organisation (IACO) H.E. Mme Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, presentations included Promoting Possibilities by Launtia Taylor, IWCA 2010 President of the Board of Directors. Taylor showed examples of how the IWCA is connecting women ‘from seed to cup.’ Other presenters included Karl Schmidt, President, Probat Burns, Inc.; Ana Laura Quirós Montoya, President of the Asociación de Mujeres Organizadas de Biolley (Organized Women’s Association of Biolley) (ASOMOBI), Costa Rica; and Sunalini Menon, Founder, Coffeelab Private Ltd., India.
World Chapter Day, 2010 Guatemala
Presentation and trainings included Finding and Funding Grant Requests, The Aromatics of Coffee, and Women's Leadership and Self-Esteem. Between sessions a networking lunch was provided and more than 100 women were able to participate in this full day of learning.
Promoting Gender Equality in Uganda From November 18-20, 2009, the IWCA presented “Promoting Possibilities: Promoting Gender Equality in a Global Economy” in conjunction with the East African Fine Coffee Association (EAFCA), the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) and the International Trade Centre in Kampala, Uganda, Africa.
From November 18-20, 2009, the IWCA presented “Promoting Possibilities: Promoting Gender Equality in a Global Economy” in conjunction with the East African Fine Coffee Association (EAFCA), the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) and the International Trade Centre in Kampala, Uganda, Africa.
A small group of select participants represented a broad scope of women leaders engaged in different aspects of coffee from 10 EAFCA countries (Kenya, Ethiopia, Burundi, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania ) In addition participants from Liberia and Cameroun attended.
National Coffee Association Annual Conventions
In addition, representatives from IWCA have presented at many other conferences. Check Calendar of Events for more information.
2009 Grants Awarded
Six organizations in origin countries were awarded a total of $20,000 in IWCA grants in April 2009.
Café Feminino Foundation – Over 200 women coffee producers were taught the nutritional value of by local foods and prepared a locally produced lunch for their families.
Alanzia de Mujeres en Café (IWCA Costa Rica chapter) – The chapter developed and marketed a coffee brand to support the Hogar Madre del Redentor home for girls.
AUGE (Mexico)-- More than 100 women received computer literacy training aimed at increasing their job skills, understanding of their children’s computer use, and communicating with husbands who work outside their community.
Union de Cooperatives Tierra Nueva (Nicaragua) – A lab that provides reasonably priced, non-chemical pest control for local farmers was constructed resulting in jobs for 12 women.
Coffee Kids Guatemala – As a result of business skill workshops for women presented by the Association for Sustainable Development of the Paraxaj (ADESPA), women working in the bakery project increased their output from 40-70 to over 100 pounds per day. Women employed by the handicraft project improved product quality and increased its profits by more than 25% over six months.
Cup for Education- Los Conjetos Schoolhouse project
- Empowering Women Coffee Producers in East Africa, ITC Communications, May 2013
- Step Aside, Gents. Witness The Rise of Women in Coffee by Allison Aubrey, NPR, April 2013
- International Women's Coffee Alliance - Hot Topic, Food, Nutrition & Science, February 2013
- Inspirational Leadership, by Kim Box, November 2011
- Empowerment and Development for Women in Coffee: Join the Efforts, by Elainve Levia, Barista Magazine, April-May, 2011
“Elevating the Role of Women in Coffee,” by Phyllis Johnson, Tea & Coffee Trade Journal, December 2010
“The 2010 World Export Development Forum,” BD Imports, September 15, 2010
“Coffee City,” Seattle Times, August 27, 2010
“Fair Trade for Women Globally,” Phyllis Johnson, podcast, Webmaster Radio FM, June 1, 2010.
“Promoting Possibilities,” Launtia Taylor, World Coffee Conference 2010 Presentation, International Coffee Association, February 28, 2010.
“International Women Coffee Alliance in Uganda,” Uganda Coffee Trade Federation, January 8, 2010.
“Revelations on Trips to Origin,” Desiree Logsdon, Romancing the Bean, November 4, 2009.
"Coffee sector case stories: Quality, sustainability and women in coffee producing countries,” Morten Scholer, International Trade Centre, December 16, 2009.
“Coffee and Culture are Highlights of Guatemala,” Desiree Logsdon, Romancing the Bean, February 10, 2009.
“A Report on the International Women’s Coffee Alliance First International Conference by Launtia Taylor,” 2009 State of the Industry, CoffeeTalk, page 62
“Coffee: Grounds for Health & Sustainability,” Andi Trindle, The Joan Kenley Show, October 20, 2007.