Man in navy blue shirt and light blue mask shovels coffee beans

Joni Romero working with Lutheran World Relief's local partner El Instituto Hondureño del Café (IHCAFE).

Strengthening Youth Capacities in Entrepreneurship and Coffee

  • Robin Schmid
  • Sep 29, 2021
Addressing root causes of migration

Throughout Central America's Northern Triangle, which includes El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the dearth of training and employment opportunities for youth has contributed to soaring levels of out-migration and urbanization, factors that increase poverty and threaten a vulnerable agricultural sector. In order to build hope for the next generation and support Hondurans to achieve a stable and dignified life within their own country, Lutheran World Relief's approach to youth engagement follows USAID's Positive Youth Development Framework and strives to prepare young people living in rural poverty for viable careers in agriculture.

Honduras is one of the world's top producers of coffee yet for many rural Honduran youth, like 21-year-old Joni Romero, the costs associated with the training necessary for employment in the coffee sector often keep such opportunities at arms' length. Joni, who has worked since he was 11 years old to help support his family and pay for school, had applied for dozens of jobs without success. As a result, he was ready to migrate north like several of his friends and family members had done previously.

...when I graduated in 2018 and I couldn't get a job, I began to feel more desire to migrate. I told my mother to get ready because at any time I would take the road. She was crying and of course it hurt...but I was resolved...

Young man in checkered white shirt stands smiling in front of a railing with green mountains in background

21-year-old Joni Romero received training, technical assistance, and vital mentoring through Lutheran World Relief’s Strengthening Youth Capacities in Entrepreneurship and Coffee project.

Positive youth development in the coffee sector

To help address the underlying challenges facing youth like Joni, Lutheran World Relief has worked in close coordination with local partners throughout the Northern Triangle to increase market-based entrepreneurship and employment for youth. In Honduras, Lutheran World Relief launched the Strengthening Youth Capacities in Entrepreneurship and Coffee project. With local partner El Instituto Hondureño del Café (IHCAFE), the project helps youth find employment or become small business entrepreneurs in the coffee sector, building their skills in coffee production and post-harvest handling practices. Youth are learning about improved cultivation techniques and how to apply technology, such as IHCAFE’s digital coffee app CafeMovil, which provides instant access to an online toolbox of coffee cultivation manuals that supplies in-depth responses to coffee cultivation questions. With Lutheran World Relief’s local capacity strengthening efforts, Joni Romero received technical assistance and vital mentoring from a coffee technician at IHCAFE.

Now, Joni is thriving and he is in Honduras to stay. He works alongside his former mentors as a full-time staff member at IHCAFE, providing training and technical support to coffee farming families across Western Honduras. Not only has he gained employment but he has restored hope for the future as he gives back to his community.

I make enough to support myself and pay for university...I am more perseverant and optimistic...It gives me great satisfaction to reach out to the communities and be told, 'I did what you told me, and everything went well.'

Man in blue polo stands in a coffee farm in front of foggy hillside

Joni now works alongside his former mentors at IHCAFE providing training and technical assistance to coffee farming families across Western Honduras.

Farming for the Future

Lutheran World Relief has worked in Honduras since the early 1990s, focusing on food security, coffee value chain development, crop diversification, gender integration, youth and humanitarian assistance. Building lasting partnerships with local non-governmental organizations, government officials, farmer cooperatives and other value chain actors, we contribute to an inclusive and sustainable agricultural economy and improve smallholder farmer livelihoods by diversifying agricultural production and income, improving on-farm processing and storage, strengthening local food markets, and equipping youth with the skills they need to launch small businesses or find employment. Lutheran World Relief helps rural communities strengthen their resilience against the increasingly severe effects of climate change, water scarcity and unfavorable market systems. 

Robin Schmid, Sep 29, 2021 email