Soppexcca works with a concept of active integration and equality in its members, communities, and in its own administration. Like many cooperatives, there was a time when Soppexcca struggled with its financial management. Debts piled up, and members lost money and trust in their organization. However, in the early 2000s, Fatima Ismael assumed cooperative leadership. An agronomist who became a trusted leader among the farmers, Fatima brought an impressive vision for Soppexcca, including solid business practices, extremely transparent operations, and progressive initiatives to improve gender equality within the cooperative.
Today, 40% of Soppexcca’s members are women. Since 2002, Sustainable Harvest has helped the women of Las Hermanas develop their brand and partner with specialty coffee buyers. More than 220 women from the Soppexcca cooperative produce Las Hermanas coffee.
The success of their coffee brand has distinguished the women within the cooperative and their communities as high-quality coffee producers and strong economic players. As a result of the higher profits from these business partnerships, the women have been able to access micro-finance loans and invest in their farms and their families. Fatima says she would like “to create a worldwide network of women who buy and market Las Hermanas coffee, sending a message to these rural farmers that they have options and can create what they want for themselves and their families.