Piura – a reason to stay

Josefa and Edita share a laugh while bagging coffee.

Piura is a mid-sized Peruvian town, just south of Ecuador and one hour from the Pacific coast, where I am volunteering with a local co-operative group. With a population of around 350,000, it appears to be thriving with two local malls full of shoppers, two bustling Starbucks locations, tons of international eateries and delicious local cuisine. Yet many young people are leaving Piura and their families behind and moving to Lima in search of a better life.

In October 2018, Norandino, a local co-operative, and the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF Canada), embarked on a project to train women and youth in the coffee production process and called the project Café Joven – roughly translating as “Coffee by Youth”. Its goal is to create new opportunities and motivate youth to work in their region and take part in the local economy. This activity is part of a bigger project entitled INVEST Co-op Peru, implemented by CDF Canada and funded by the Canadian government through Global Affairs Canada. The project is working with coffee and cacao farmers to help create better economic opportunities in communities across Peru and aims to reach over 4000 farmers by 2020.

Maria, Josefa and Edita are all from the Piura region and are taking part in the project. With guidance and hands-on training from Norandino and the INVEST project, the women roast, grind, package and sell coffee from local farms. This opportunity is helping them earn a good salary and stay in their home region, without having to do manual labour on farms.

Maria roasting coffee.

In my conversations with Maria, she tells me that it is really thanks to Norandino that she is still in Piura. The support she received from the project was instrumental in helping her acquire new skills and gave her a reason to stay.

Café Joven is inspiring a new business idea – the opening of a coffee shop in a neighbouring town. It will sell coffee alongside other locally-made products, like sandwiches and pastries. As the business grows, there’s hope that more employment opportunities will be created in the community, thus keeping more young people at home.

The three women now have a reason to stay in Piura and are trying to inspire other women to do the same. Edita is confident that sharing her experience with members of the community can prevent others from leaving. Entrepreneurial education and skills development, coupled with more and better jobs, hold the promise of keeping people at home and supporting Piura’s economic growth.

Maria, Josefa, Edita and CDF Canada volunteer Patrick labeling coffee bags.

Norandino, CDF Canada’s partner in Peru, has also helped the three women connect with a graphic designer. Better packaging and marketing of their products can help open new doors across and beyond Peru.

The women behind Café Joven will now have to learn how to start their own business and successfully operate it. Josefa is keen to learn about product development and the process of running a business.  While the project has provided Maria, Josefa and Edita with a new range of skills, it has also unearthed a desire to push forward. They are eager to get more training in how to administer a company, manage finances and create a marketing strategy, so they can run the business on their own. With ambition and enthusiasm, these three women are thinking about their future, and with a location for their café in mind, it looks brighter than ever.

A blog by Izabela Wlodarczyk, CDF Canada volunteer

Photo credits: Izabela Wlodarczyk

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