Aid by the Cupful
“Basically because people in the business chains know who they’re selling to or who they’re buying from, it kind of became a better tool for fundraising because there was that personal component that comes from people knowing people,” Griswold says. “This isn’t core to our business,” he adds. “We buy and sell the coffee they bring in. But it is so related to the supply too that you can’t close your eyes, turn your back and think somebody else should figure it out. I think one of the central messages we learned in this was that business can act fast and do the right thing.”
Coffee Relief Funds’ efforts have helped the affected coffee growers dig out from the mud slides and floods, purchase new equipment, and process what harvestable coffee remained. Working with already established co-ops with a grassroots presence helped make the process incredibly efficient.
“These are people already there, already organized, they already have systems in place and so we were able to use the co-op’s infrastructure to detect the needs and to respond rapidly, and I’d say most importantly respond in a cost-effective manner,” says Shaun Paul, executive director of EcoLogic’s development fund and co-founder of the organization. “We were building off these very sophisticated local organizations and really supporting them and addressing the needs among their members in their back yard.”
Paul adds, “These are people that are traditionally the abandoned populations of the country, the disenfranchised, the poorest of the poor. Last in line in terms of social status and, by providing aid … we are strengthening and empowering them to be better positioned to meet their needs not just today but to meet their future needs.”
For more information, visit www.sustainableharvest.com/coffeefund.