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A Different Way To Contribute To Sustainability

May 28, 2007

Recently we have been discussing the best way to contribute back to the developing world. As coffee suppliers it seems that there are two primary avenues–both revolving around green bean sourcing. One (fair trade) is socio-economic. The other (certified organic or other designation) is environmental. While I like both designations A LOT, since they speak to direct results in origin countries, they do lack something for me on a deeper more personal level. What is missing is the edge of direct involvement with the people and/or the environment of the place designated to receive aid.It seems that often we must gauge our understanding of the success of a program on how much is put into the program, how many dollars are invested, and not on what comes out–what is happening on the other side with the recipients of the aid–in effect the “customers”.One of the defining features of Fratello Coffee has been its commitment to Belo Ethiopia. This program is essentially the owners of this company directing and monitoring the results of an 8 year development plan in conjunction with CHFI. The Belo program is designed to direct assistance resources derived from the sale of roasted coffee in North America to this one particular community in Ethiopia. The funds are directed in a way that allows basic infrastructure, like sanitation and water supply, to be developed by the residents themselves. Other funding goes to basic education and literacy. While ten percent of all profits go to supporting these efforts, the ultimate success of the program is measured against particular objectives.Going forward we will present news from the efforts in Belo on this blog. Hopefully we will see progress and continuous improvement. We hope to show how aid money manifests as actual benefit to recipients themselves. Stay tuned.