Azahar Coffee

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Purchasing and processing green coffee beans directly from smallholder farmers in Colombia’s post-conflict areas

REGION
Latin America
SECTOR
Agriculture

FIRST YEAR OF INVESTMENT

2016

The Challenge

Smallholder farming is one of the most prominent legal sources of income for the rural poor in Colombia, and over 560,000 rural smallholder farmers rely on coffee production to make a living. In recent years, due to increasing costs of agricultural inputs, low productivity and fluctuating global coffee prices, coffee farming has become increasingly unprofitable for farmers. Additionally, the widespread prevalence of middlemen, standing between the farmers and end consumers, significantly reduces the amount of profit that makes its way back to growers.

The Innovation

Azahar is focused on ensuring farmers’ profitability by establishing direct relationships with both rural coffee farmers and roasters, and cutting out expensive middlemen. Azahar commits to purchasing green coffee beans from rural growers in Colombia’s post-conflict areas at fixed premium prices, typically 50-70% above local going market rate. Azahar also provides training and technical assistance to farmers in order to help them produce the highest-quality, single-origin coffee beans—enabling them to sell to demanding specialty buyers at premium prices.

The Impact

Approximately 95% of coffee farmers make less than US $4 per day. Azahar work is almost entirely focused on rural farming communities that are not only affected by high poverty rates and social and economic exclusion—the majority of Azahar’s farmer customers live on USD $2-2.50 per day—but by Colombia’s long-standing armed conflict as well. The company is currently improving the livelihoods of more than 500 smallholder farmers by enabling them to increase their incomes by 50-70%.

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