Alumna Initiates "Chica Bean": A Company Designed to Empower Women Through Coffee

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Alene Seiler with child and another woman As one of 11 children on a wheat farm in Kansas; agriculture, collaboration and community were staples in Alene Seiler’s life. These values intensified at Aquinas College, with increased opportunities for Alene to participate in public service. Although Communication and Spanish were her areas of academic focus, she spent a significant amount of time out of the classroom doing community service activities. It was this experience that lead her to join the Peace Corps in Guatemala, linking her past in agriculture and her interest in service to influence positive changes among those she served, especially among women.

bag of coffee During her Peace Corps service in Guatemala, Alene met Josue Martinez, a local agronomist whose family owns a coffee farm in the eastern region of the country. Together they have worked to build a life in Guatemala, bringing two children into the world (Gilbert and Marian), working full time jobs and now developing a coffee business, Chica Bean, that empowers women involved in producing specialty coffee. Alene saw an opportunity with Chiba Bean to tailor a business effort to women. “Over the past seven years I have developed a deep understanding of the critical roles women play in development. They hold various responsibilities in relation to food production and management, familial nutrition and child rearing among other things within a community; however, in many cultures, they are the least favored for education,” said Alene when reflecting on the potential power of Chica Bean.

Woman with bag of coffee beans Alene explained that this family company, Chica Bean, prides itself as a “specialty coffee”, grown and processed in ideal conditions necessary for a unique cup of coffee full of quality and taste. Also, as a socially responsible family business that believes in empowering “chicas” to transform their communities Chica Bean is committed to contributing 10% of the profits to local women for community development projects. The model is that with this money, women will have the power to design and execute development projects of their choice within their communities. It is the belief of Alene and Chica Bean that, “the importance and potential positive impact of increased opportunities of equity for women is foundational if economic, political, and social development is to be sustainable.” To find out more about Alene and Josue’s company, Chica Bean, check them out on Facebook at