KINGSTON, Jamaica — As Lauren Le Franc continues to make strides in her legal career as an advocate and entrepreneur, the True Blue Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee owner now embarks on a huge business venture by assisting farmers globally by bringing a difference to the coffee industry with technological solutions.
Her business is now registered in the UK as Little Coffee Company. Her mission to help farmers has taken her across Africa where she visits farms and plans to make strides.
“Small-holder farmers have difficulty accessing funding, and getting the pay they deserve for their crop. Up to 50 per cent of crop value vanishes between picking and point of sale,” Le Franc said.
“Little Coffee Company plans to use technology that will change the balance of power across industries. It not only allows buyers direct access to farmers but offers complete transparency from the farmer to end-consumer. This data is not only beneficial for buyers but helps to increase the income of farmers and access to mobile finance,” she explained.
Since winning the opportunity to establish her coffee business in the United Kingdom, Le Franc recently received news that her contract would be renewed with the Launch Lab programme at City University in London which offers mentorship and support, as well as office space. She has also received support from the business community such as PWC’s Social Enterprise Club.
The award-winning entrepreneur has received notable awards such as: the Inspiring Innovator Award awarded by a UK investment bank, The City University of London Green Spark Award, and has recently been appointed trustee to the Global Board of Common Purpose which assists emerging leaders with skills to cross boundaries.
“Winning these awards has not only given my business credibility but also helps to build my network with and accelerate our goals for the year. I have worked hard to really test my business model and winning these awards from such prestigious companies will enable us to offer the proper funding to help farmers.”
Little Coffee Company’s main goal is to place emphasis on a digitised monetised and transparent programme which will help smallholder farmers.
“By having a transparent supply chain model, this not only highlights the farmers for the work they do, but also gives them accessibility to direct trade, so they are able to get the price they deserve.”
As Little Coffee Company assists farmers with its technological approach, Le Franc further explained, “This digi-tech approach provides a platform that will connect everyone in agriculture by providing efficiency, and trust to farmers.”
Digitising transactions for farmers reduces the costs of dealing with cash which has risks associated such as theft by transporting cash and assist farmers with saving transportation costs.
Notwithstanding Little Coffee’s growing network locally and internationally, Le Franc’s recent collaboration with farmers in Cameroon is an important step for her business globally.
“As a small organic producer in Cameroon working in collaboration with the Little Coffee Company will help to improve my processes and selling my coffee at a fair price via a fair-trade channel so that I can secure a better price to all small producers in Cameroon,” shared Chief Daniel Kemdeng.
As Le Franc expands her work with other countries interested in the coffee trade, she is now in dialogue with one of the biggest mobile phone providers in Zimbabwe which will assist with direct transactions to alleviate the hassle of the delays in payments and other setbacks to small farmers. She will also be working with the Geovation Hub which is a digital data lab, to help with her location data from farmers.
As Le Franc continues to be a trailblazer in the legal field and in business, she has a few words of encouragement to young entrepreneurs.
“My advice to all entrepreneurs would be to do what you are passionate about. It took me years of hard work within the coffee industry to get to where I am today. It’s rewarding when I get closer to my goals so I keep pushing forward.”