What is Impact Roasters, and where did the idea come from?
Impact Roasters delivers high quality coffee from Ethiopia to Scandinavian markets while developing local impact projects.
I am originally from Ethiopia, but I have lived in Denmark for about 5 years. Having grown up in the coffee industry, I found that the quality of coffee available in Denmark could be improved. From this stemmed the idea for a business opportunity to address the need for high-quality coffee offering in my new home country and for fairer business trade models in Ethiopia.
Tell me more about your trade model, ‘Impact Trade’. How is it different from other fair trade models?
In Ethiopia many of the ‘fair trade’ models do not really work. The coffee farms are too small to benefit from simply having coffee bought at a fair price – to really have impact you need to look beyond that transaction.
When we started 3 years ago we focused on by-passing the middle men. Later on we started co-creating different impact projects with farmers, via our organization Coffeeprint4change. Those activities are not only related to coffee farming but are for the entire community to benefit from. We are now moving towards value addition in Denmark and doing coffee roasting as well as opening coffee shops.
How do you find the coffee producers in Ethiopia?
Thanks to my Ethiopian origins, I have many contacts in Ethiopia that help me find the right coffee producers to work with. We also work with the government, discuss projects with them and get their support. Our local staff manages the relationships with farmers. We care about these individual interactions, as this is what leads to lasting change.
What successes have you experienced so far? What challenges have you faced?
Initially we faced challenges with the marketing and branding of Impact Roasters, but we are getting better with time. We try to be different, to focus on the farmers’ personal stories. Finance is also a challenge – we understand it takes time to gain the trust of investors, that you need to be well-established. We are working on that and traveling to various festivals and coffee-related events in Hamburg, Berlin, Amsterdam to promote our work.
In terms of successes, I am quite proud that we recently opened our first coffee roastery and coffee shop, and we are opening another one in two months. We would like to open a third venue before starting conversations with investors.
How has the IBA community supported you so far?
I am interested in growing my network and learning from other start-ups in Africa. I will also be present at the Inclusive Innovation 2030 event, co-hosted by IBA.
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