Cafédirect: A Fairtrade Pioneer
Cafédirect is one of Fairtrade’s longest standing partners and licensees. Founded in 1989 in response to the collapse of international coffee prices, cafédirect even preceded the FAIRTRADE Mark in the UK, which was introduced three years later.
Cafédirect partners with growers through the Cafédirect Producers’ Foundation. Governed by producers and supported by funding from cafédirect, the Foundation provides each organization with funds to invest in their business and improve the livelihoods of grower communities. The growers make their own project plans with support from Foundation staff, who make regular field visits. More than 50 percent of cafedirect’s profits have been invested in this programme to date. Typical projects include training, improving quality and investing in processing facilities.The result: increased productivity, high-quality produce and empowered grower communities.
The Mpanga Growers’ Tea Factory in Uganda is one group that has benefited from cafédirect’s approach. Both Fairtrade certified and a cafédirect partner for ten years, all 782 smallholder growers have benefited from the combination of Fairtrade Premium money and additional training and investment from cafédirect. Access roads, packing machines and latrines are just some of the projects the growers have funded through the Fairtrade Premium. Training on food safety and hazard analysis through Cafédirect funds have improved safety and helped improve productivity. Digital weighing scales ensure complete transparency for the tea farmers and speed up payment of invoices.“The partnership with cafédirect has been very helpful to our business” says Rogers Siima, General Manager at Mpanga.
In the future cafédirect hopes to expand even further, setting up more direct partnerships with smallholder growers and enabling them to make their own way out of poverty.