When you think about how your company can create inclusion and equity, do you think beyond your business’s walls? Even the smallest business makes purchasing decisions, and these decisions can be powerful points of leverage. Mission-driven brands often ask customers to put their money where their values are; is your business asking the same of its suppliers?
This week, we’ve gathered a couple of examples — both coffee companies that have increased their impact by evaluating each part of their supply chains — along with free resource guides and case studies.
When Agnes Nyinawumuntu began her career as a coffee farmer two decades ago, she picked coffee “cherries,” the fruit that houses coffee beans, indiscriminately and with little care for quality. Back then, because she was selling her cherries to a middleman for a pittance — 250 Rwandan francs (about 30 U.S. cents) for 2 pounds of unwashed cherries — she had no incentive to select only the ripe, scarlet-colored cherries that create the best coffee.
Today, after three years of training in agronomy, cupping and roasting by the nonprofit Relationship Coffee Institute, Nyinawumuntu is paid nearly $2 a pound for her beans, and she is also the past president of the Twongere Umusaruro Cooperative in eastern Rwanda. She has become a respected figure in Rwanda’s coffee industry who is regularly asked to train other Rwandan coffee-growers in best agricultural practices. The money she has earned has lifted her family out of poverty — she was able to upgrade their earthen dwelling to a stucco house and purchase livestock and an additional plot of land for farming.