Emory Business School “Grounds for Empowerment” Initiative Cultivates Economic Opportunities for Women Coffee Growers

April 2016: Emory’s “Grounds for Empowerment” Initiative Cultivates Economic Opportunities for Women Coffee Growers

Contact: Mitch Leff,, (404) 861-4769

What: The coffee industry is a way of life for half a billion people around the world. But the money generated by the $100 billion coffee industry rarely trickles down to the growers. Twenty-five million of them live and work in substandard conditions and are undercompensated for their work. The majority of these undercompensated coffee workers are women.

Emory’s Social Enterprise @ Goizueta (SE@G) center created the “Grounds for Empowerment” program to create economic opportunities for female coffee growers who are typically not given opportunities or funding in the specialty coffee market.

By the Numbers:

  • Coffee is worth more than $100 billion worldwide
  • Coffee exporting is a $20 billion industry
  • 25 million people depend on coffee farms for their economic livelihoods. 67 percent of the world’s coffee is grown in the Americas.

Topical Angle: Specialty Coffee Association of America Annual Expo, April 14 - 17. More than 12,000 people expected to attend.

The Grounds for Empowerment program was created to support all female coffee growers.

  • Working toward the goal of female coffee growers earning 40-percent of the retail price of specialty coffee.
  • Goal is to fairly compensate women to allow them to reinvest in their community, thus strengthening the areas where they live and work.  

 The next step for Grounds for Empowerment is to bring female coffee growers to Atlanta and teach them how to build their businesses. The women would then return to their farms with knowledge of how to build and sustain a successful coffee farm.

According to Peter Roberts, Academic Director of Social Enterprise @ Goizueta, “Women have worked for coffee for years and it is time for coffee to work for women.”


  • Peter Roberts, Emory’s Social Enterprise @ Goizueta Initiative
  • Angie Allen, Founder, Full Circle Living and supporter of Grounds for Empowerment
  • Kim Easson, VP of Strategic Partnerships, Gender Program Advisor, Coffee Quality Institute