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Café Campesino was born from an idea that came into its founder’s (Bill Harris) head when they had gone for house building project with Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village Program in rural areas of Guatemala, where coffee farming was the main economic activity. It happened that one of their staff members dumped a wheelbarrow full of dirt in the nearby coffee bush. This action angered the owner of the coffee bush who happened to be the owner of the house they were building. He almost sent them away for reasons that they were spoiling their main source of income. Many questions about coffee farming that needed answers arose in Bill’s head. How would some be a producer of the world’s most loved brew and still live in abject poverty? How much did the farmer get from selling their coffee? How much were they paid by the intermediaries who bought their coffee? Bill did not have to research on the internet to get the detailed answers to these lingering questions.
He later learned that coffee farmers all over the world were exploited in one way or another, the main reason why most of them lived a poverty-stricken life yet other people grew rich from selling the same product they work so hard to produce. Efforts put into producing the coffee by farmers were not acknowledged and rewarded as deserved. There was impartiality in the way the coffee business was conducted. An idea to form a fair trade where all players in the supply chain would be treated and remunerated fairly. In 1998, café Campesino was formed as the first fair trade company in Georgia and sold their idea to farmers who bought it without any hesitance. It encouraged farmers to form cooperatives that will help in giving them a fair price system and help them with accessing credit facilities and community development. The company expanded in business as it imported green grain coffee to buyers. It later convinced the buyers to form a purchasing corporative which was named Cooperatives Coffees.
However, the company was faced with the challenge of low supply from small-scale farmers whose production was affected by global price crises. These farmers reduced their production due to low returns, and this affected the company’s import supplies. This is a complex problem that affected the whole supply chain while the coffee demand remained constant. The company had to formulate solutions to this threat. Some of the solution proposed for implementation include: (i) seeking partnerships with other farmers unions, purchasing corporations, and coffee companies. This would help to make sure that the company has a constant supply of coffee for import throughout. (ii) Planning and implementation of sustainable diversification initiatives. This would help in sensitizing and empowering farmers on how to improve their production and quality of the coffee. (iii) Improve competitiveness regarding coffee quality and marketing. This would help the company exploit new market fronts through promotion and quality improvement strategies.
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