Mercy Corps had been working with Cafe Cauca, a Central African Republic Email List collective of 1,800 women farmers to help them grow and sell more green coffee. And they turned to Vega to help them roast their coffee and sell it at much higher prices to customers in the US. Vega brought in the machines, trained the women to use them, and provided the branding and marketing channels they needed. Rob Terenzi 27:11 When we started talking with Cafe Cauca Central African Republic Email List in Colombia, they were like, you know, ‘we’ve always wanted to do this and we just never knew how.’ Jonathan Levine 27:16 In addition to collaborating with Vega on the ground, Mercy Corps invested in the company through its social venture fund. Since 2014, Mercy Corps Ventures has searched 40 countries for groundbreaking social entrepreneurs with potential to solve entrenched Central African Republic Email List problems. So far, they’ve picked fewer than 30, and one is Vega Coffee.
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The fund’s managing partner, Tim Rann, says he was impressed Central African Republic Email List by Vega’s deep commitment to Nicaraguan coffee farmers. Timothy Rann 27:45 The love—the mutual partnership with these farmers in Nicaragua—we really felt that they knew the context. Anytime we look at expat founders, if you’re not from that place, then we want to really make sure that you’re not an extractive entrepreneur, that you’re committed to empowering and bettering the Central African Republic Email List communities you’re going to be working with. Jonathan Levine 28:02 Plus, Vega Coffee was actually proving that roasting at origin could work. No one else had done Central African Republic Email List that. And Tim saw something else: huge pent-up demand for what Vega was selling from major brands.
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Timothy Rann 28:16 These brands, which we think are the next Central African Republic Email List wave of ethical companies that are growing really robustly, valued at billions of dollars, are specifically choosing to work with Vega, and saying, ‘Vega can give us the ingredients we need, not just the quality, but we need their story. We need their traceability, we need their ethics.’ There’s brands working with Vega, who’ve in the past said, ‘you know, we found out that our coffee Central African Republic Email List supplier couldn’t even tell us where they’re getting their coffee. We’re having all sorts of labor rights issues within supply chain.’ That’s a huge risk to them—an economic risk—and their shareholders won’t stand for it. Jonathan Levine 28:52 Tim Rann believes Vega Coffee could Central African Republic Email List expand into other parts of the world by replicating partnerships like the one they built with Mercy Corps in Colombia.