Fairtrade and other certification systems have an important role to play in development. After all, they prove that people care about where their coffee comes from, and about the lives of the people that make it. But really, we need to go further. We wanted to build our business on the same principles that made Fairtrade a household name (such as transparency and honesty,) but break new ground when it comes to how we deal with coffee growers.
Our greatest asset is our direct relationships with individual farmers; the people who’ve planted, nourished and tended their crop - often for decades. So before we started building websites and designing logos, we packed our bags and travelled to the mountains of Colombia.
We learned that the real struggle farmers face is uncertainty. Fluctuating prices and currency exchange rates, insect infestations and plant diseases that threaten their livelihood combine to make coffee farming an extremely risky way to provide for their families. Not only that, some of these problems lead to a lower yield and poorer quality coffee, creating a chain reaction that ends up hurting you, our customer.
The current system seems to work for everyone except the people who matter most- the farmers. There’s so much good work being done by agencies and NGOs on the ground, but we believe the only solution is a total review of the pricing model and striking a mutually beneficial economic deal with the farmers, and a better system of value creation. So we created ShareTrade, a new sourcing model.