Gabriela Ejea Mendoza

Ashoka Fellow
Mexico City, DIF, Mexico
Fellow Since 1999
Red de Consumidores de Café A.C.


This profile was prepared when Gabriela Ejea Mendoza was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1999.
The New Idea
Gabriela Ejea wants to take another step in the "fair trade" movement. After ten years of work with grassroots producers and careful study of their target markets, she understands that an important segment of coffee consumers - students, young professionals, activists, and entrepreneurs - is also interested in social issues, and can contribute to improving the lives of small producers beyond simply purchasing their goods. Working from that insight, Gabriela is building a network of urban coffee consumers committed to lobbying in favor of public policies that improve the living conditions of coffee-producing communities, and to supporting social service projects and cultural activities that benefit producers and their families. She founded Coffee of Our Land (Café de Nuestra Tierra), a civil association dedicated to the commercial and cultural promotion of organic coffee. The association draws on Gabriela's ties to twelve coffee growing organizations from six states in Mexico, embracing nearly 48,000 small producers. Coffee of Our Land seeks to disseminate the cultural and economic realities that grassroots producers face, then build solid links between these producers and their consumers.

Gabriela's innovation lies in her ability to link the urban population's growing desire for involvement in social justice concerns with its love of organic coffee, as a way to raise consciousness and improve the lives of rural producers. Her proposal deepens people's awareness of their role and potential as consumers and, building on that self-identification, provides them with tools to participate in social transformation.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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