In the Thai Hills near the Burmese border there is a coffee plantation run by a Dutch couple. This coffee plantation was begun in 2004 believing that this was the way to help these rural poor people earn a living. The Dutch couple had lived in the Pwo Karen village for many years and the coffee company allowed them to serve their neighbors in a more holistic way.
They first grow the coffee plants to seedling size. That allows the local farmers to plant them and nurture the plants. After 6 or 7 years the coffee plants are ready to produce for market.
The Dutch couple buys all the farmers’ production of coffee beans whether the price is high or low. They aren’t opportunisticly changing what they want when the price of coffee fluctuates. This provides the farmers steady income. Their business values determine their actions.
They have taught the Pwo Karen farmers organic methods to both treat pests and fertilize the coffee plants.
Lately they have invested in a special roaster for the coffee to be able to sell premium, roasted coffee in Thailand thus enhancing their brand and expanding their market.
More recently they have started another crop: Peanut Butter. They grow, cook and process the peanut butter for the market.
While this business was up and running when we met them, we have helped with business plans, provided expertise in accounting as well as expertise in packaging technology.
A NOTE FROM OUR DUTCH FRIENDS:
"B4B has been a well-appreciated sounding board.
Over the years we've talked about so many things. Today we are also talking about marketing and they have helped us form a small team to work on it. Annie and Erwin are working on that. People with expertise that can help us tackle particular problems are of great value to us."