Student Life
PROASSA and Café Femenino


PROASSA and Café Femenino - Peru

PROASSA/CECANOR is socially and environmentally responsible enterprise that produces and exports certified organic coffee beans in-line with international market standards. Their goal is to promote trust-based relationships between minor produces and product consumers in ways that support economic equity, social responsibility, environmental protection and sustainable business practice.




Number of students placed here

Partnership was established




2012 - Present




PROASSA, Promoter of Sustainable Agriculture S.A. is a producer and exporter of certificated organic coffee beans. It was set up in 1995 as a result of the endeavour of producer associations from Cajamarca, Lambayeque, Amazonas and San Martin, all of them organized in the North-East Coffee Bean Producers Central (CECANOR, by its Spanish acronym), Center of Investigation, Training, Consultancy and Promotion (CICAP by its Spanish Acronym) and a group of professionals involved with the sustainable development of the North-East of Peru. The enterprise was organized upon the integral work on technical advisory done by CICAP. Since 1992 these coffee bean producers in different places of Cajamarca and Lambayeque have become pioneers in the production and export of organic coffee beans in northern Peru.


The criteria used to organize PROASSA which are reinforced every day with its praxis are: transparency, trust, horizontal and democratic relations with its suppliers and customers, improvement in producer life conditions, permanent commitment to quality, human capital development, equity, viability, economic equity, social responsibility, environment protection, and long term vision.


PROASSA started its operations with 50 producers. Nowadays, it works directly with 3,694 producers who are organized in 50 regional centralized organizations. CECANOR also works with other three independent associations and one cooperative.


Spanish is widely spoken. The staff in PROASSA's offices speak Spanish as do the people in the communities. You will have the opportunity to take Spanish classes upon arrival.


Role of the Organization




One of the essential factors of PROASSA is its strategic alliance with CECANOR, CICAP, OPTICO, and CORDAID. The following is a description of the work each of the organizations provide to the alliance:


  • North-East Central of Coffee Bean Producers (CECANOR): this organization commits to improve technical skills for producers when growing their crops. Skill building focuses on the areas of improving quality, increasing performance and collecting methods that allows for central trade.
  • Center of Investigation, Training, Consultancy and Promotion (CICAP): this organization offers technical assistance and training for improving production quality, improving family well-being and to qualify the producers for growing.
  • Organic Products Trading Company (OPTCO): This American organization handles the promotion and positioning of the brands: Penachi, Café Femenino, Andes Gold and others in markets across the US, Canada and Australia.
  • CORDAID: This Dutch organization set up a financing mechanism that provides money for the collection and exportation of the coffee bean products.
  • Women Coffee Foundation: this organization supports women producers and their communities with health problems and education opportunities.
  • PROASSA: this organization manages the organic program, promotes the organization of producers, helps with technical assistance, manages the producing centres, and oversees quality control and all exporting activities.


Services to Providers


PROASSA offers the following the providers registered with the organization:


  • Permanent technical assistance: provided for CICAP with economic resources from commercial activities and the support of international cooperations.
  • Training: that is done by the alliance annually to strengthen producers’ organization.
  • Financing: providing information on financing skills to help producers use best-practices for pricing and selling
  • Commerce: we have organized a competitive commercial system that producers benefit from. This also includes ensuring quality control in the whole process.

PROASSA works with organized minor coffee bean producers in a continuous improvement process to produce coffee beans that are in accordance with the quality demanded of organic coffee beans. PROASSA’s goal is to be the leader among enterprises in the North of Peru, becoming a reference of quality for operators in the international coffee bean market. PROASSA wants to be recognized for its transparency in every operation, and for contributing to relations with minor producers in the Peruvian economy. PROASSA works to be a role model for sustainable development in Peru.

Student Experience

What did you take away as being the most valuable aspects of having participated in Beyond Borders? What aspects of this experience were most impactful, and why? 


“Participating in Beyond Borders allowed me to broaden my perspective and grow as a person whilst immersing myself in a new country and culture. The most impactful moments for me were those when I was able to create meaningful relationships with those I encountered. I will always remember the people of Peru as welcoming, generous and loving individuals, people I am proud to have worked alongside with.” 


“While in Peru, I came to the conclusion that my two passions in life (urban planning and international development), are closely related. Having the opportunity to work with coffee producers on community projects really was a dream come true for me. It made me come to the realization that urban planning can have a huge impact on the quality of life in the developing world, and it became my career objective to find a job that would allow me to explore this relationship further. The experiences you have as a student are the ones that will influence you for the rest of your life.” 


What would you like to say to a prospective student considering the Beyond Borders program? 


“The Beyond Borders program has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my University career thus far. Not only did I come home with a lot more knowledge about Peru, Cafe Femenino, and social justice, but I also came home to Canada knowing that a piece of me was left with my Peruvian family in Chiclayo.” 


“If you have the opportunity to use the world as your classroom, do it! International service learning teaches you many things; not only will you gain an appreciation for different cultures and for humanity, but you’ll gain a better sense of who you are as an individual and the impact that your lifestyle has on a global scale. When abroad, you’re challenged to immerse yourself in a new culture, and when you return home, you’ll be challenged to think differently. I can’t think of a better experience to engage in your passions and learn from the people and environments around you.” 


What was your journey like?  


“I had the privilege of working with Isabel Uriarte Latorre, co-founder of the Café Femenino initiative and the executive director of PROASSA, a Fairtrade and Organic coffee exporter in Northern Peru. As a Planning student, I was able to work on rural planning projects both at the office in Chiclayo and in several rural coffee-producing communities. Some of the projects I worked on included a Community Centre design concept for the community of Penachí, a Community Development Plan for the village of Tallapampa, and a healthy homes research report. While in Peru, I also worked on my undergrad thesis which focused on planning for small-scale coffee tourism in the community of Agua Azul. I will forever be grateful for the people I met, the places I saw, and the overall lessons I learned.” 


“My placement was at PROASSA working on the Café Femenino brand of coffee. My office was located in Chiclayo, Peru in the north of the country. I spend a good amount of my time in the city but also frequented the various communities in the Andes and Amazonas where the coffee was grown and harvested. I worked on branding of Café Femenino including photography, website, and product packaging in a Project Manager role.” 


Students will collaborate with their community partner upon arrival to outline their roles and responsibilities as a volunteer. Partners will introduce students to their organization and the variety of projects for students to participate in. Likewise, students will share their own skills and passions with the community partner in these first weeks. This process of mutual sharing and learning leads to co-developing projects, self-guided learning, and mentorship, such that all parties get the most out of this new relationship. What students work on at organizations changes year to year and depends on the student’s interests. Placement tasks could fall under any of the following categories: 

  • Business analysis 
  • Communications  
  • Community outreach (e.g. public health, waste management, education) 
  • Sustainable agriculture 
  • Food security 
  • Climate change adaptation (e.g. water management) 
  • Administration, grant writing, reporting 
  • Research/field work