College students cramming for exams. Workers shuffling non-stop from meeting to meeting. Parents trying to keep up with their kids. What do all of these people have in common? They could all probably use a fresh cup of coffee.
Lots of us can’t live without it, coffee is an integral part of our daily lives. But for many people around the world, it’s actually their livelihood. Farmers, distributors, and café owners all depend on the caffeinated beverage to support themselves and their families.
Some African businesses are making big changes within the this industry. Their work is going a long way to support workers and their communities. For these businesses, this popular beverage is one of empowerment, knowledge, equality, and success.
Here are four businesses bringing new meaning to the coffee industry:
In Muhanga, Rwanda, farmers were facing a problem. They were able to produce tons of coffee, but couldn’t access the far-away processing plants and sell their product.
Zipora, armed with an education from the Akilah Institute for Women, wanted to find a solution. Now, Zipora and the community’s farmers own COOBAKAMU, a coffee co-op that helps farmers access markets and processing plants. The co-op makes over five tons of coffee every month! Zipora plans to expand the business and help other women achieve their goals.
Brothers Ngozi and Chijioke Dozie are filling Nigeria’s caffeine needs, one cup at a time. The two created Café Neo in 2012, expanding to locations across the country!
This isn’t your average café. Café Neo is a creative hub for entrepreneurs to work and thrive. The shops offer free access to electricity and Wi-Fi, giving start-ups a place that has a reliable power source. Workspaces inside the café also allow customers a private place to work on their projects.
“I can’t think of a better place for an entrepreneur right now than in Nigeria,” says Ngozi. The Dozie brothers want to support those entrepreneurs with their business.
Good African Coffee
Fifteen years ago, Andrew Rugasira had an idea to begin a Ugandan coffee company. He wanted to become the first African to collect, roast, market, and sell coffee directly to British markets. Today, that dream is a reality through Good African Coffee.
Andrew’s mission began with a network of 14,000 farmers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, promising them a 50/50 share of profits. He also set out to empower his farmers, particularly women, with microfinance initiatives. To this day, the company continues to support farmers and help local communities thrive.
“You begin to effect a change,” says Andrew, “but the change is bigger than you.”
Vava Angwenyi, after studying abroad, was shocked when she returned home to Kenya. She had expected the coffee industry to change for the better while she was away, especially for local farmers. Unhappy with how the industry was working, she decided to start her own business, Vava Coffee.
Creating amazing coffee isn’t the only goal Vava has for her business. Her enterprise focuses on educating farmers, improving market access, empowering women, and engaging youth. She runs workshops and trains farmers, equipping them with information about markets, licensing, and agronomy. She also helps young people see the opportunities in production, believing that they can provide solutions to the industry’s problems.
“The industry needs more radical leaders,” Vava argues. “Perhaps that’ll come from the next generation. At least, that’s what we’re betting on and that’s why we’re investing in youth programs.”
The next time you reach for that mid-morning cup, remember you’re not the only one getting a boost. Innovative farmers and entrepreneurs in Africa are boosting local coffee businesses and revitalising entire communities!