FAF organized and helped train a group of women at the farm who produce high quality handicraft work. The project offers opportunities for women to generate income through the production and sale of handicraft articles in the town of Igaraí, which borders the farm and belongs to the county of Mococa, in the state of São Paulo. The “Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Igaraí” was formed, and established a marketing blog web page and web site(www.igarai.blogspot.com www.cafeigarai.com.br).
This association has been recognized nationally for the quality of artisan work it producers and the income generated by women from the farm and from the Igaraí community. Recently, a program of the National Public Radio (i.e. World View, Jerome McDonald, host) featured the Association of Women Entreprenuers of Igaraí and its entrepreneurial initiatives. In addition, products from this association and organic coffee from the FAF (under the “Metropolis” brand) have been successfully marketed and sold at the Wild Tree Cafe in Evanston, Illinois, directly benefiting the Women’s Association of Igaraí.
In 2002, Silvia Barretto started an organization of women at the FAF organic farm, focusing on embroidery work and crochet as a way to generate family income in addition to what the men earned on their full time agricultural jobs. Silvia funded the materials and created opportunities for sales that encouraged the women to believe in themselves and the possibilities of small entrepreneurship initiatives.
In 2006, the group of women from the farm was ready to undertake a larger initiative, and the famous designer Renato Imbroisi (sponsored by SESC-SP) got behind the project by supporting specific activities. That is when “Café Igarai” was created and the women’s group increased its scope and established a base in Igaraí, a village next door to FAF. The name “Café Igarai” was chosen because the group decided to have coffee as its theme, and develop products decorated with the groups´ own drawings of the different phases of the coffee tree and all activities that are part of the coffee production process.
Gradually the group affirmed its own identity and coffee heritage, and greatly increased their self esteem and confidence in their abilities to successfully operate a small business. The group produces embroidery, porcelain painting and does all the natural dying of fabrics using coffee berry and trees that are environmentally friendly and conducive to a shade grown plantation. Today the group has developed not only technical skills, but also entrepreneurial and management skills as well as gender empowerment for much needed social changes and economic advancement.