The Tim Hortons TFO Canada Coffee Partnership: A unique program that is leading the way in gender equality

In August 2014, Tim Hortons and TFO Canada partnered to expand the Tim Hortons Coffee Partnership program in Guatemala. With financial support from the Canadian government (Global Affairs Canada) and ongoing financial contributions from Tim Hortons, the program works to improve the businesses and lives of smallholder coffee farmers in regions where Tim Hortons sources its coffee.

Two key focuses of the program are:

  1. Opening up discussions about gender inequality and increasing female participation in the decision-making in coffee farming households.
  2. Allowing youth to realize their full potential by helping them develop technical skills, understand career opportunities and learn basic life skills that will help them plan for a brighter future.

Wendy – An enterprising young farmer

During field visit we met Wendy, a 16-year-old who lives in Chimaltenango, Guatemala with her mom, dad, and younger sister, Michelle. She attends an agricultural high school and sometimes accompanies her mom to the family farm so she can learn how to grow coffee and other crops in a sustainable way.

Tim Hortons partnered up with TFO Canada to extend the impact of its Coffee Partnerships to this region in Guatemala.  Under this partnership TFO Canada works with local agencies HRNS ( and TechnoServe ( to implement programming that includes mainstreaming gender issues in coffee-farming, with the goal of increasing gender equality.  This is particularly important in Guatemala where farm work, be it coffee growing, blackberry harvesting or any other crop, is traditionally done only by men.

One of the ways this program reaches a wide number of people in the community is through training done at demonstration farms where participants learn techniques they can implement at their farms such as how to keep the soil from overheating, due to climate change, how to retain water in the soil better, and how to make their own organic fertilizer.

Wendy has attended some of these demonstrations and she has also experienced, firsthand, the challenges faced by the agricultural community. Wendy’s experiences have led her to make agriculture her focus area in high school. She wants to learn how to be a better farmer, and run a better business, for the benefit of her family and her community.

Maria del Pilar – An elder leader

Maria del Pilar has been working with women’s groups for over 25 years. In her town of Chimaltenango, she is a mentor, and happily shares her expertise on agricultural practices. She has gained a lot of her knowledge through the programming administered by HRNS ( and TechnoServe (, provided by the partnership between TFO Canada, funded by Global Affairs Canada, and the Tim Hortons Coffee partnership.

The day we arrived, Maria del Pilar was teaching others a new technique she had recently learned – how to stop soil from overheating. During her lesson she carefully demonstrated how to first take the temperature of the soil, and then apply agricultural plaster to protect it from the heat. As she spoke, a large group of women enthusiastically took notes.

Maria del Pilar wants to continue doing this type of work for as many years as possible. She wants to constantly learn new techniques to improve her own agricultural performance, and to share with other women in her community, so that she can ensure a bright future for Chimaltenango.