Fairtrade Co-op coffee banner

The Co-op is sending £25,000 to Fairtrade coffee producers to help promote gender equality and empower women.

The cash comes after the success of a social media project to inform its customers and members about the producers of its 250 Fairtrade SKUs.

Its #GrowingStories campaign, launched last November, connected its shoppers in the UK with growers around the world through a dedicated website, growingstories.coop.

It invited message exchanges between shoppers and producers via the website and for every message sent and reply received, the Co-op gave £1, raising £25,000 in less than a year.

On the back of its success, the retailer is now continuing the campaign and will give a further £25,000 to more Fairtrade producers if the messages and interactions continue.

“Thanks to you we’ve reached our target and can now announce which of our producers will be receiving the funding,” the retailer said in a blog to its members.

“Plus, we’ll be doubling the fund available, so we’ll be able to support a second project later in the year. That’s an amazing £50,000 back to our Fairtrade producer communities.”

The Fairtrade producer receiving the first £25,000 is the Aguadas Co-operative of 5,000 smallholder coffee producers in Colombia.

The Co-op has been trading with Aguadas since 2003 and buys all its Colombian coffee ranges from Aguadas members.

Aguadas will now use the £25,000 to run a six-month food education programme.

“In their remote region of Colombia, a lack of understanding of basic food safety and diet can lead to ill health,” the Co-op blogged.

“With the support of educational charity, Fundacion Nutresa, around 250 women from Aguadas will be trained in food safety and nutrition. They’ll also be taught how to create and nurture their own home gardens.

“This programme is all about encouraging gender equality. We’ll be empowering women to take control of food safety and nutrition in their communities and teaching them how to share this knowledge with others.”