A plant-based ice cream company in Portland, OR is empowering the women who farm its coconut supply in the Philippines. Through a new partnership with the Water Agroforestry Nutrition Foundation (WAND), the ice cream company, Coconut Bliss, founded the Coconut-based Women Entrepreneurship Initiative and recently donated US$20,000 to the program.
Funding for this initiative will support women farmers in selling goods made from the byproducts of coconut processing. These small businesses produce valuable commodities, such as charcoal from coconut shell, vinegar from coconut water, coco peat, and organic fertilizer. Coconuts are only harvested every three months and value-added products provide a critical source of income for women farmers and their families during the off-season, according to WAND.
“As a woman-led business, we understand the importance of supporting other women-led organizations,” Darcey Howard, Global Marketing Director of Coconut Bliss tells Food Tank. For Coconut Bliss, supporting women farmers and entrepreneurs in the Philippines also means building their resilience to climate change. Women are disproportionately at higher risk for climate-related impacts on their health and livelihoods, especially in developing countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Converging evidence reported by the WHO, the Journal of Climate and Development, and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) links women’s vulnerability to climate change with their social roles and responsibilities. Although women comprise over 40 percent of the agricultural labor force in developing countries, they are typically also responsible for childcare and household food and water security, according to the FAO. As primary caregivers, women are less likely than men to migrate for economic opportunity or in response to climate-related changes that threaten their livelihoods and safety.
In the Philippines, women farmers also tend to receive lower wages than their male counterparts and lack equal access to education, technology, and supply inputs, according to the FAO. These factors limit women farmers’ capacity to manage climate-related risks to agriculture and livestock. To address this resource gap, Coconut Bliss is working to create economic opportunities for women farmers and their families.
The CEO of Coconut Bliss, Kim Gibson Clark, has personally traveled to the farms where crops for her company are grown. Cultivating a “knowledgeable and intimate relationship between our production and manufacturing partners is important to our mission as a company,” Howard tells Food Tank. “Customers are beginning to expect this from the businesses they support and we’re proud to push for more businesses to be transparent about their environmental and social impact.”
Photo courtesy of Coconut Bliss.