IWCA Scholarship Success Stories

IWCA is a global peer network that advocates to empower women in coffee to achieve gender equity and sustainable lives. Through donations we are able to establish scholarship programs that provide women the opportunity to attend industry events and educational trainings. While these experiences have a powerful impact for the women who are selected, it also has a lasting impact for the communities where they live and work. In our Scholarship Stories posts you will hear women explain how these scholarships have been valuable to their professional growth in their own words. If you would like to contribute to future scholarships click here.


I was awarded my scholarship in 2015 for the IV Colombia Convention. Thanks to the scholarship, and first Female Barista All Stars event at the convention, I learned new techniques and different ways to approach customers from other female baristas

This knowledge has empowered me as a woman and motivated me to share my newly acquired techniques with other baristas in my country and coffee lovers. It was also enhanced by curricula and I had a promotion and additional recognition in my job. This action motivated me to start introducing my daughter to the barista profession.


I learned sustainability is of great relevance in coffee. Back at home in Guatemala I shared these concepts with my father, with whom I work. We include sustainability in our goals to preserve our legacy in the coffee farm. Thank you for investing in empowering women, soon we will exponentially flourish.


I was awarded the IWCA Scholarship in 2013 to attend the IWCA Guatemala Convention. Thanks to this event I learned I could improve in my mill process to start exporting and moving forward to direct trade. Now I am the president of Guatemala Chapter and I am very happy to work in my coffee project and share time with my coffee colleagues and contribute to the sustainability of the coffee industry.


I was lucky to be awarded a Scholarship for IWCA Colombia Convention in 2015. Participating in the First Female Barista Challenge in Bogota improved our barista skills and made me aware of the importance of knowing the origin of my coffee and started in my cafeteria, giving voice to every cup of coffee, teaching our customers about the hard work it takes to produce a coffee of excellent quality and inviting them to visit my farms. Now I am in the Honduras Chapter Board. And happy Charlotte Malval our Team leader in Colombia visited us in Honduras this 2016.

Margaret Mithamo (left) pictured with IWCA President Mery Santos

Margaret Mithamo (left) pictured with IWCA President Mery Santos


I was extremely happy to be awarded a scholarship to participate in the IWCA Convention in Colombia. I met the IWCA Board and set strong bonds with the Chapter Relations Committee. My biggest challenge is always in September, as it is our core coffee business month and we have to be able handle it all. So far, I am so grateful because my visit to Colombia has widely opened doors for IWCA Kenya. I am now close in collaboration with our coffee directorate, in proposed program collaboration with CQI and UTZs, and finally the current operation I am undertaking on behalf of Coffee Research Institute is targeting the women and youth farmers. I started a marketing millage at Colombia and we are still following up on it.


I was awarded  a scholarship in year 2015 for IWCA Colombia Convention. I learned the importance to share knowledge with other coffee colleagues. I also learned that I am an artist in the coffee chain and to put my heart into making every cup as a true treasure that the farmer gives me to share with my customers and coffee friends.

Back at home in Honduras, I decided to open a Coffee Academy with my family in Santa Barbara. I teach the techniques learned from our leader in Colombia and the coffee knowledge to thrive my students the passion of my coffee culture to multiply this love for coffee in them. At home I always serve my friends using a V60.

Maria Rosa Elena Romero with coffee that she roasted.

Maria Rosa Elena Romero with coffee that she roasted.


At the 2011 IWCA Convention in El Salvador, I had the opportunity to be awarded a scholarship. This close approach to IWCA made me aware of so many women involved in the coffee world and encouraged me to raise my voice for my coop. I also asked the bank for a loan to by a small farm and became a producer not only a staff at my coop. I also continue with my bakery for additional income for my family.

Now, I am also roasting coffee and distributing it to stores around my home town in Jucuapa, San Miguel. Thanks to the micro loan program from Earth Choice; I am able to buy printed packaging bags and to buy green coffee to roast.


Awarded a Scholarship 2015 IV IWCA Colombia Convention she learned about WOMEN CARE certification; finding it very appealing for Peruvian Chapter, and the Board of Directors agreed. Now, Rosa Maria has started contacts with Costa Rica Chapter to implement the Certification in Peru soon. As a Chapter President she and the Board assures to promote IWCA in Peru. At her work she promotes coffee with visits to farms.


I am truly grateful for the opportunity that has been given to me to be part of the IWCA 2015 in Colombia. It has opened great doors to me to continue inspiring others by passing on the passion in coffee and latte art. Being a barista and a teacher, I get to share my knowledge and experiences in IWCA, meeting all empowered women the coffee industry. We have proved that women have the same will and strength of a man with the desire for success and purpose to help others.