Coffee is a tool. This tool is powerful: One that has the opportunity to connect billions of humans being every day.
A large majority of the coffee we consume is produced by small family farmers belonging to numerous indigenous, ethnic minority communities, most of whom rely on coffee as a solution to poverty, yet remain under the threat of severe socio-economic & ecological hardships.
Our method is to use our collective love of coffee in a way that provides sustainable socioeconomic development for these indigenous tribes. This is in direct contrast with the current farmer – middleman – consumer relationship in which the farmers are merely treated as a means to satisfy the coffee demand, while receiving the bare minimum compensation.
By cutting out the middleman, and relying on gift exchange principles between the farmer and the consumer, we strive to create community development programs which enable these ethnic communities to determine their own future. These programs aim to raise the living standards for these tribes which produce some of the highest quality coffee in the world.
- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- Community-Driven Development and Asset-Based Community Development
- Asset-Based Community Development
The U.N.’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a basic guiding document of all our approaches with each and every community we work with.
This guiding document is critical for our approach towards development as we recognize the right of each community to choose the path they deem as most appropriate for their people.
We are obliged and honored to be observers, and if allowed, commentators and participants in the discussions and eventual development initiatives which are selected by each community.
Community-driven development is the sole approach to development initiative selection and implementation. As we recognize the right of indigenous peoples to self-determine the development of their community, it is their choice what issues to address first, and how.
In effect, we listen…and listen…and listen…and record…and replay for the community.
Over years of building relationships with the communities, problems and issues arise. We effectively act like a sounding board whereby we are able to communicate to the communities common problems and issues which are consistently self-identified by the community.
We then facilitate discussions whereby the community is able to discuss problems which they have identified and if there are solutions (i.e. clean water, healthcare, education for children, food security, soil health, basic community security). If there are no solutions to the issue, the community often times will request comments or advice from us. We provide possible solutions and attempt to discuss all socioeconomic, philosophical, ecological, political, and spiritual pros and cons.
When a proposed solution is decided upon by the community, if the solution can be provided internally by the community, it is preferable. However, should the skills or resources not be found in the community, fi-lan’thro-pe or other lowest-cost providers (i.e. other charitable organizations or INGOs) are involved. If external skills or resources are provided, it is a requirement of all partners shall train all possible skills to the community so the community will be able to address any future problems through their own community.
This method requires fi-lan’thro-pe to facilitate discussions whereby the community is able to self-identify and document skills within their own community which may or may not have been known amongst the community. This allows the community to effectively take inventory of the various skills and community-members most experienced with various socioeconomic/ecological issues. This also allows the community to understand notions of “Western ideals of development” in contrast to their own beliefs and ideas and help to find how indigenous knowledge connects or blends with “Western” terminology.
For example, one community was discussing education. We facilitated a question/answer session to identify who in the community was most actively involved in “education”. As the conversation commenced internally, the community identified members who were responsible for transferring “sacred” knowledge/stories/history to their fellow tribespeople. On their own conclusion, they decided that these community members should be part of an “education group” which was to be responsible for the discussion of all education issues (whether institutional or community/spiritual) involving the community.
Over the years, the communities have identified needs from providing smoke-free cooking stoves, to clean drinking water, to healthy seedlings for their farms. The development initiatives put forth by the communities are as diverse as the communities themselves. Over the course of time, the nature of projects will always change in order to address needs as they are discovered. This is the beauty of supporting communities – Enabling them to be able to develop on their own terms.