A Story of Empowered Women in Coffee Farming: Alexa's Leadership at Prodecoop

Posted by Helen Lentze on

In the highlands of Northern Nicaragua, Alexa Marin's farm embodies women's empowerment and exceptional coffee cultivation. Generations of women have shaped life on this land, passing down indigenous and regenerative farming knowledge. Alexa's deep connection to the soil, learned from her mother, her grandmother and the many women before her, defines her farm nestled among forested hills near the border of Honduras. It represents a lifestyle steeped in tradition, respect for nature, resilience, and dedication.  

Alexa is a member of Prodecoop, a farmer owned cooperative in Estelí, about an hour’s drive away. Founded in 1993, Prodecoop serves more than 3,000 smallholder farmers in the area and is a sophisticated organization that dries, processes and exports the highest-quality Arabica coffee beans to countries all over the world. Prodecoop’s Co-Founder and President, Merling Preza, also serves at the President of Pachamama’s Board of Directors. The woman-led cooperative has become a catalyst for empowering other women in the region.

Over the last two decades, Alexa has emerged as a leader at the forefront of driving gender equity initiatives within the cooperative. Through collaborative efforts, Alexa and other women farmer owners formed a committee dedicated to addressing gender-related issues and implementing programs to support women's economic, political, and health empowerment. 

The gender equity committee has spearheaded initiatives such as creating funds for women to purchase land, organizing workshops on maternal health and childbirth, and ensuring that technical training programs are accessible to women. They even adapted schedules for farm visits from inspectors to accommodate women's needs around childcare. Women have always played an instrumental role in coffee farming and Prodecoop has created an inclusive environment where women can thrive. 


One of the key achievements under Alexa's leadership has been the institutionalization of gender equity within Prodecoop's organizational structure. Today, the cooperative's statutes mandate gender parity in leadership roles, ensuring that women have equal representation and decision-making power. As a result, for every one male board member of Prodecoop one female board member has to be elected to maintain a one-to-one ratio.  

Alexa has been elected to the board herself and successfully straddles her many roles as a board member, gender equity committee leader, coffee farm owner, mother and grandmother. When asked about the source of her strength, Alexa attributes it to the teachings of her mother and her profound love for the land. Her resilience and passion for agriculture embody the spirit of empowerment that drives her to create a more equitable future for women in coffee farming.


Alexa's journey from a smallholder coffee farmer to a leader advocating for gender equity underscores the transformative power of collective action within cooperatives like Prodecoop. By recognizing the invaluable contributions of women and providing them with the tools and opportunities to advance, Prodecoop is not only shaping the future of coffee farming but also paving the way for a more equitable society in Nicaragua. Alexa's story serves as a reminder that through unity, perseverance and hard work, we can break barriers and create a world where gender equality can exist and thrive. 

Read Part 2 of Alexa's Leadership at Prodecoop HERE

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