Fair Trade Helps Farmers in Kenya Build Schools

Gikanda Farmer's Society Cooperative

06/21/2011 - 5:42 PM

Imagine if your only opportunity for an education meant attending class in a bug-infested school with dirt floors. Only rusted iron sheeting protected you from getting rained on during stormy weather and your elementary school teacher needed to stand on a rock to reach and write on an unbroken section of the blackboard. Up until recently, the young children of the Gikanda Farmer’s Cooperative community in Kenya had no other choice for elementary school.

Gikanda Cooperative is nestled underneath Mount Kenya where land is fertile and the most valuable crop farmers grow is coffee or “black gold.” Coffee sold at a fair price enables Kenyan farmers and their families not just to get by, but to thrive with access to health care, education, and a decent standard of living. This changed for the worse when the global coffee market crashed in 1999. Coffee prices plummeted and farmers worldwide had trouble earning enough to feed their families.

Fed up with struggling against volatile market prices, Gikanda Cooperative's founder Johnson Kafue led the cooperative to gain Fair Trade certification. Since then Kafue and Gikanda's several hundred farmer members have been paid sustainable Fair Trade prices for their coffee and made connections with socially responsible, international buyers. Their hard work has paid off and today 100% of Gikanda’s coffee is sold as Fair Trade Certified.

Gikanda Cooperative members voted to use Fair Trade funds to renovate and expand the dilapidated local school building.

Gatundu Primary School was completely rebuilt with cement floors, brick walls, and desks so that Gikanda's children now have a safe, welcoming place to learn. A laboratory was created to give students access to science education and hands-on learning. The cooperative also covered the costs to add a secondary school section for teenage students who would otherwise have to travel very far to continue their education.

Fair Trade earnings generated by consumers like you help build schools and give the gift of education in some of the most isolated communities in the world. 

Would you like to support cooperatives like Gikanda? Click here to find a list of U.S. companies selling Fair Trade Certified coffee or here to make a tax-deductible donation to Fair Trade USA and help grow the Fair Trade network in 70 countries worldwide. Charitable donations allow Fair Trade USA, an independent nonprofit, to reach across borders and connect hardworking cooperatives with life-changing opportunities for themselves and their children.


06/21/2011 - 5:42 PM
06/21/2011 - 5:42 PM