APECAFE, or the Asociación de Pequeños Productores de Café de El Salvador, is an organization of 11 small farmer cooperatives from different regions of rural El Salvador. In 1997, local farmers united to form a cooperative based on common goals of voluntary membership, solidarity and an improved standard of living. APECAFE now provides extensive services to cooperative members including pre-harvest financing, technical assistance and community development. The association has steadily increased their direct exports to international Fair Trade markets since becoming Fair Trade Certified in 1998. After a long period of economic failure, the cooperative's involvement with Fair Trade facilitated negotiations with lenders, gradually decreasing their debt and beginning to retain capital and plan investments to increase efficiency and productivity. APECAFE claims Fair Trade has attracted new members to their organization, and Fair Trade premiums have enabled them to establish various social and productive programs benefiting their communities.
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