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Wakulimarket launches a direct trade coffee collective in Tanzania

Coffee lovers have long heard of fair trade, sustainable coffee, and direct sales. Certifications and labels make many promises to the customer, and many of these initiatives have helped to create a more tasty and sustainable cup of caffeine.

However, certifications like these are often plagued by ethical and economic issues that impede progress on solving the social injustices they set out to address.

Wakulimarket promises to provide the ideal alternative to these approaches by revolutionising the coffee value chain and linking farmers directly with the end buyers of their coffee.

A coffee farmer in the Mbinga region of Tanzania has two options: either sell their coffee to a local trader for a very low price or join the MVIWAMBI cooperative to receive a better price for their product.

Yet, MVIWAMBI is currently only able to sell via the national coffee auction, an apparatus that introduces huge fluctuations in price and that greatly increases the time it takes for the farmer to receive their payment.

“I have a one-acre farm on which I grow coffee. With 5 children and no husband it is difficult to come around. The current market price for coffee barely covers my cost of production. I know the coffee that I grow is good, but it doesn’t feel like I am rewarded for it,” says Ostella Tegelē, a member of MVIWAMBI. The cooperative has been looking for markets and long-term buyers for years to no avail.

“Wakulima” means farmers in Swahili, the national language of Tanzania, one of several countries in Wakulimarket’s growing portfolio of farmer cooperatives. Wakulimarket’s mission is to offer small-scale farmers a chance at earning a fair income for their hard work. The global coffee industry is worth over $200 billion; only 4% of this value is received by farmers.

For every $3.65 spent on your morning Americano, the farmer receives less than $0.05, as the coffee changes hands up to 7 times through middlemen. Wakulimarket will remedy this this by creating a direct trade platform that offers smallholder farmers all over the world a marketplace to sell to global consumers, cutting out the middlemen, and providing them substantially higher prices for their coffee.

Additionally, farmers will have the opportunity to create long-term and sustainable relationships with their buyers. And the best is that the coffee tastes awesome.

The official launch of the direct trade coffee collective will be on June 1st 2018, when consumers worldwide can start the purchase of their first bags of Tanzanian specialty coffee through the Wakulimarket Kickstarter campaign. And coffee will be just one of the rewards in this campaign: Wakulimarket has teamed-up with The Kilimanjaro Initiative to plant trees on the iconic Tanzanian Kilimanjaro mountain. We do this to mitigate climate change and to bring back more rainfall to the region with better-earning coffee farmers and tastier coffee as result.

The team of Wakulimarket consists of a global group of young individuals with a passion for coffee, a sense of social justice and skill sets ranging from online developers to trainers in agriculture. The co-founder is a seasoned venture builder and his partner has been working extensively in the global south with coffee cooperatives. During their time supporting market linkages for Tanzanian coffee cooperatives, the two entrepreneurs realized the need to streamline the process by which coffee producers market their product and the immense potential this would have on improving incomes and livelihoods among the world’s vulnerable populations.

To show your support, visit the Wakulimarket Kickstarter campaign page.