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Thrive Farmer Impact Story: Vinicio Gonzalez
The 4,500 person town of Concepcion Pinula, Guatemala is the quintessential Latin American coffee town. Nestled in dormant volcanic mountains at the perfect elevation for coffee to grow, it is no surprise that over 60 percent of the local economy is connected to coffee production.
The 17 families that comprise the local coffee cooperative have produced coffee for generations. Vinicio Gonzaes, the co-op head, is one of the first farmers that Thrive met in 2013.
At that time, Vinicio, his wife and their two daughters lived in his mother’s house. He was selling his coffee to “coyotes,” local brokers that offer desperately needed financing to harvest coffee in exchange for buying the coffee at rock-bottom prices. This cycle leaves the farmer with little means to improve his quality of life.
For Vinicio, that situation drastically changed when Thrive entered the picture. Thrive’s revenue sharing model allowed Vinicio true economic upside on his coffee fruit as it was refined up the value chain. He earned over 3.5 times higher net income than selling to coyotes and he earned consistent prices year after year instead of worrying about the usual highly volatile commodity price.
In just a few years with Thrive, Vinicio earned enough money to build a house for his family and move out of his mother’s house. He also saved enough to send his daughter to university, one of the first girls to ever attend from her community.
Earning more money was merely the beginning of the transformation. Through an ongoing partnership with ThriveWorx, Vinicio and his community attended leadership training and are actively working with Thriveworx to improve local schools. To date, Thriveworx has helped the community to rebuild two schools and has launched a high school leadership academy that equips students in character and making “impact through action”. In 2018, students in the leadership academy created a community-wide sanitation program for the first time in the town’s history.
Today, Vinicio and his family live a changed life. In conversations, Vinicio says that the relationship with Thrive has been one of the best things that ever happened to him because it helped him find real purpose in life, improved his marriage, and established his family to thrive. Vinicio’s story is just one of the many that motivates Thrive to continue their work.
Photos of Vinicio Gonzaes from Thrive Coffee Farmers