Our last week in Nicaragua has been very eventful. It started with travel to a coffee plantation in Matagalpa where we joined TechnoServe’s staff for the training they deliver through the Cosechemos Mas Cafe project which was co-funded by the PIMCO Foundation. As always, everyone was welcoming and the farm's owner sat down with us to talk about their coffee. While his kids were playing next to us, I thought of how important TechnoServe's work is for bringing positive changes to the livelihood of so many families and I felt proud to have been a part of EEP.

We made two more visits to the cooperatives in order to learn more about the central wet mill process. Each organization shared a very different experience and it became clear to us that for the central wet mills to operate in a viable way they require a strong management and a buyer who can offer a premium for their coffee. Also, a cultural shift would need to occur so that the farmers could change the production methods they are familiar with.

After being back in Managua we incorporated our findings and finalized the detailed analysis of each of our interventions on supply (coffee nurseries, central wet mills, cupping laboratories) and demand side (market positioning) which we think will help Nicaragua produce a better quality coffee at higher prices.

On our last day in the country we met with the Director of the National Coffee Association and presented him our study (in Spanish!). We received very positive feedback and he agreed that our suggestions would benefit the strategic transformation of the industry. I was actually thrilled to learn that our work can impact the future initiatives that could be undertaken by the different industry players.

EEP has been one of the most amazing and challenging experiences in my life and career and it made me grow both professionally and personally. I am grateful for meeting many hard working and dedicated individuals and building relationships which will extend beyond this program. It is rewarding to know that our contributions and ideas can serve the communities in other parts of the world and I definitely have more appreciation for my daily cup of coffee!

The Volunteer

Marzena Loos

Senior Associate, Shareholder Services & Funds Administration

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