February 28, 2015


©Allen Forrest


©Allen Forrest 18x14acrylic on panel

Fairtrade Africa and the Fairtrade Foundation have launched a new three-year project that will empower women coffee farmers in Kenya, and grow the East African market for Fairtrade certified coffee.

Despite contributing up to 70% of the labour required to plant, grow and harvest coffee, women farmers in Kenya rarely own land or coffee bushes. These assets usually belong to the men in the family and as a result, women are unable to join farming cooperatives or earn an income for their labour.  But research shows that when women are in control of more household income, there are improved outcomes in areas such as health, education and investments.

Fairtrade’s Growing Women in Coffee project will encourage the transfer of coffee bush ownership to 150 women coffee farmers in the Kapkiyai Cooperative, enabling them to earn an independent income for the first time. A further 300 women within the Kabngetuny Cooperative, who have already benefitted from an asset-transfer programme, will receive training on good agricultural practices with the aim of increasing the yield and quality of their coffee. They will also benefit from the construction of ‘green energy’ biogas units for their homes, which will reduce exposure to smoke and reduce the time they spend collecting firewood.

Kipkelion Union, which brings together 32 cooperatives including Kapkiyai and Kabngetuny, will be supported by Fairtrade Africa to develop and market a branded ‘women’s coffee’ for sale within Kenya. It will also be able to share the learnings from the pilot with the other 30 cooperatives that it represents.

Commenting on the launch of the project, Wangeci Gitata, Fundraising and Partnerships Manager for Fairtrade Africa, said: "We are very excited; women from the three co-operatives will be trained on good agricultural practices as well as the use of biogas for their homes. The women will have the opportunity to brand their coffee for the domestic market."

David Finlay, Fundraising Manager at Fairtrade Foundation, said: “We are looking forward to working with Fairtrade Africa on this project, which will directly empower hundreds of women farmers and has the potential to benefit thousands more. By working with the women in these co-operatives to roast, grind, package and sell their beans as ‘women’s coffee’, we hope they will be able to increase the amount they sell on Fairtrade terms, which will bring benefits for their whole community”.

The Growing Women in Coffee project will be funded from January 2015 to December 2017 by a grant of £389,831 from the Big Lottery Fund (the first such grant it has made to Fairtrade), plus additional funding from the Guernsey Overseas Aid Commission, and will be delivered with support from local partners, Solidaridad Eastern and Central Africa Expertise Center (SECAEC) and Kenya National Federation of Agricultural Producers (KENFAP).

©Allen Forrest

You can learn more about Fairtrade at the following link:
Allen Forrest – Graphic Artist / Painter

Born in Canada and bred in the U.S., Allen Forrest works in many mediums: oil painting, computer graphics, theater, digital music, film, and video. Allen studied acting at Columbia Pictures in Los Angeles, digital media in art and design at Bellevue College, receiving degrees in Web Multimedia Authoring and Digital Video Production.

Forrest has created cover art and illustrations for literary publications: New Plains Review, Pilgrimage Press, The MacGuffin, Blotterature, and Under the Gum Tree. His paintings have been commissioned and are on display in the Bellevue College Foundation's permanent art collection.

Forrest's expressive drawing and painting style is a mix of avant-garde expressionism and post-
Impressionist elements reminiscent of van Gogh creating emotion on canvas.

Artist Statement

Femme Noir #13, ink and wash, 15" x 11"
Painting is a cross between a crap shoot, finding your way out of the woods, and performing a magic act. Each time I begin to paint I feel like I am walking a tightrope—sometimes scary, sometimes exciting, sometimes very quiet, and always, always surprising; leading me where I never expected to go. Doing art makes me lose all sense of time and place and go inside one long moment of creating. Whenever I feel a painting in my gut, I know this is why I paint. The colors are the message, I feel 
them before my mind has a chance to get involved. Color is the most agile and dynamic medium to create joy. And if you can find joy in your art, then you’ve found something worth holding on to.

Art website:

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Porfolio: published works

Train, San Jose, CA oil on canvas panel 12" x 16", 2014

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