About the Project
Bean Voyage: Kick Off!
We are a social enterprise that collaborates with smallholder farmers to cultivate their dreams by facilitating greater market accessibility for their coffee.
Statement of Need
Doña Miriam is a smallholder farmer in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Every harvest, she purchases a small amount of coffee plants by borrowing a loan with the hope of making a sustainable living. She aspires to produce her coffee by using organic techniques even though using chemical fertilizers would give her a higher yield. Miriam says, “I would rather produce less, than produce poor quality coffee”. However, as a smallholder farmer, she does not have the technical training and funding to continue her dream of producing organic coffee. Currently, she earns only $3 per kilogram of green beans. The coffee is usually processed through cooperatives, which is then sold to commercial roasters, who then sell it for a premium price of approximately $60 per kilogram of coffee. Miriam only earns about 6% of the revenue from sales of coffee. This does not allow Miriam to cultivate her dream of improving the organic process. Instead, she is forced to consider commercial options with the use of chemicals that are harmful for the soil, just to ensure higher yields.
Miriam is only an example of the unjust situation that exists in the coffee industry.
A cup of coffee on average in the U.S. costs about $3, which in the global market can buy more than a pound of unroasted coffee beans. Nevertheless, the farmers do not receive adequate benefit from the transaction. On average, farmers are receiving less than 17% of the revenue from the sales of coffee. Such low rate of return for the farmers has led to a significant reduction in coffee production by 13.8% in 2013-2014 in Costa Rica. Smallholder farmers are forced to leave their homelands in search for better opportunities in urban centers or in other countries.
Amidst this crisis, the groups that are heavily affected by such a change in the coffee farming communities are women farmers. Although women are doing 70-80% of the work, they have historically received less support in the form of financing, training and market accessibility. Women experience restrictions in their duties due to societal expectations. This does not allow them to participate in active decision making, which also affects their financial capacity to invest in their family. Research has shown that increased income for women is more likely to be translated to improvements in child education, nutrition and health.
Moreover, while there are myriads of benefits engendered through increased exchange of goods and information, the developed countries still remain the biggest recipients of the benefits from these trades. The traditional structure of exchange has the less developed countries export their primary goods (for e.g. green coffee beans) at a very low price to more developed countries who, then produce manufactured goods to export back to these less developed countries at a higher price. This structure has led to challenges such as: unequal development and distribution of wealth in the world and social problems such as poverty and illiteracy as consequences of such imbalance. This pattern also means that a large proportion of the revenue from the sales of coffee go to roasters and intermediaries that often do not represent the coffee farming communities.
We want to challenge the status quo and revolutionize the coffee industry with our storytelling subscription based model to bridge the gap between coffee consumers of the global North and coffee producers of the global South, and also work towards a more just and equal world for everyone regardless of their gender or class. We will achieve our visions by the followings.
First, we are committed to working with smallholder farmers and farms where there is a positive environment for women leaders to flourish. We will build relationships with farmers to better comprehend their circumstances and to identify ways that we can help them achieve their visions for the farms. We will provide a web platform that allows our farmers to exhibit their products and reach an international market. Through this model of relationship trade, Bean Voyage will pay our farmers an equitable price for their product while our consumers will learn about the process of coffee production through individual storytelling. Through this model, we are able to guarantee a higher source of revenue for our farmers while raising awareness of the ways in which the consumers can positively contribute towards the fulfillment of the farmers’ visions.
Secondly, we would like to challenge the status quo by allowing the most of the process of coffee production to remain within the communities itself. Simple pricing comparison informs us that there is a large value-added on coffee beans after it is being roasted. However, this value-added does not seem to remain in and/or return to the communities that produced them. Our research on ground showed us that many local roasters within the coffee farming communities as well as the farmers were negatively affected by international roasters. Numerous local roasters lost their clients and several farmers were forced to give up on their traditional method of pan roasting at home as the majority of international roasters only wanted to purchase green beans from the communities. We believe that by allowing the process of coffee production from harvesting to roasting and packaging to remain within the communities, they will be able to retain employment, livelihood and majority of revenue of the sales of the coffee. Bean Voyage, then will be responsible for sales and shipping of the roasted coffee beans. This innovative way of trade will ensure that the community has the sustainable cycle of income to flourish.
Why Do We Need Your Support?
We learn everyday that the economic development for the communities can only occur and be effective when the community members are involved themselves. Thanks to your support, our team has made it to San Jose safely, and we have been meeting with local cafe owners in San Jose as well as made multiple trips to coffee farming communities such as Tarrazu, Perez Zeledon and Monte Verde. From our previous fundraising campaign and personal contributions, we have so far raised: $3,678.70.
While this amount has been sufficient for us to pay for our flights and stays in San Jose as well as for our trips to numerous farms, it also is proven to be not enough for our future endeavours to purchase beans from these farms and further our relationship.
Here is a nutshell of our predicted cost to kickstart our social venture:
In order to start operations, we will purchase 100 kg of roasted coffee beans from the Tarrazú, Perez Zeledon and Monteverde regions of Costa Rica, offering high quality coffee from six smallholder farmers. Our startup cost is as follows:
- International shipping (freight) = $330
- Domestic Transportation (Costa Rica) = $220
- Marketing (website upgrade, promotions etc) = $100
- Estimated Import taxes = $300 (5.26% of the value of coffee)
- Roasted Coffee ($20.58 per kg; about 300% higher than current payment for them) = $2058
- Contingency = $492
Therefore, total start up cost = $3500
Any contribution from you will go a long way in helping us start our venture and support smallholder coffee farmers in Costa Rica. Regardless of the amount of your contribution, we will feature you in our website for your generosity. Please provide us with your email address as we would like to provide you with updates via newsletters as we further our endeavours.
Thank you again for your generosity and support.
$20- Hand-written thank you card
Every dollar counts in this early stage of our social venture, and we really appreciate your humble support towards our vision. We will send you handwritten cards, with love and gratitude from the executive team of Bean Voyage!
$30- First batch of coffee on us!
We truly appreciate your trust in our vision. We will send you our first batch of coffee (12 oz bag), along with a handwritten card sharing some of the stories that we have been documenting over the past few months! and of course, with love and gratitude from the executive team of Bean Voyage!
$100- All of above with personalized thank you video
We recognize that you are not just interested in helping the venture, but you also recognize the potential of the idea to blossom. We will send you handwritten cards from the executive team of Bean Voyage as well as a beautiful scenic photo. In addition, we will send you a personalized thank you video with love and gratitude.
$300- All of above + free code for shipping.
Your support at this stage of our venture means the whole world for us, and we really appreciate the fact that you are willing to help us kick start our venture. We will send you handwritten cards, a photo as well as a personalized thank you video with love and gratitude. In addition, we hope you will subscribe to our coffee, and when you do, we promise to send you a code for free shipping!
For more information or detailed proposal, contact us: