Guatemala Coffee Project: Empowering Communities

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This past Wednesday 06, Mark Bray, the Airship Coffee owner and coffee developer spoke at John Brown University to students who are participating in the Guatemala coffee project through Enactus, a club that gives students hands-on experience with business decision making opportunities.

In his presentation, Bray explained the roasting and trading systems behind the coffee industry and underlined the issues that result from conventional methods that are used by most farmers. He also showed Enactus’s members the potential and lasting results that this project will create if everyone who is involved commits to it.

Bray spoke for about two hours and answered questions from all members. His intention with this presentation was to clarify the goals of Airship Coffee and the Guatemalan Coffee Project and to help Enactus members to identify the challenges and create action plans to bring the project into effect and do it in a successful way. Bray believes that while the focus is to help lower class farmers who are struggling to keep their business working, Enactus members will also benefit from this “unique and challenging experience, he noted.

When asked about the economic and environmental impact that coffee production has, Bray said that during his visit to Guatemala this past October , he noticed how farmers were being greatly affected by the drop in the prices of coffee.  “Some of the farmers that we visited were going into debt just to keep their farm running,” he said.

In partnership with Enactus, Bray wants to teach these farmers, who already have crop and milling systems going, a new method known as Sun-Dried Naturals which eliminates the use of water to create specialty coffee by improving its quality and decreasing production cost and time.

According to Bray, the benefits of utilizing this new method goes beyond the economic ones. He believes that by improving the quality of the coffee produced in those farms, farmers will increase their supply and consequently their income which will allow them to employ more workers and impact their community in a greater spectrum.

“The goal here is to increase profits and share half of that increase with the farmers and use the other half to invest in the infrastructure of the communities surrounding these farms,” said Bray.

Trey Sanchez, one of Enactus members, said he found the presentation very helpful because Bray was able to teach the complex process that goes into coffee making and to outline the problems, solutions and consequences in a simplified way.

Josafat Rodriguez, another member, said that before last night’s meeting he was not exactly sure what the project was about and in which ways he would like to participate in it but with Bray’s explanation he is not only excited about starting up the project but also excited to see the upcoming results.

By Michelle Gibson

Mark teaching the farmers

Author: EnactusJBU

Seeing Opportunities - Taking Action - Enabling Progress

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