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© 2016 Opportunity Internationala 501(c)3 nonprofit.

Three Cheers for Coffee and Chocolate

By Allie Zappia

While we appreciate sweet treats and caffeine here at home, coffee and chocolate are changing lives around the world! Coffee and cocoa are critical food crops that are empowering Africa to feed itself. In fact, in the first half of 2015, Opportunity disbursed 7,030 loans to coffee and cocoa farmers in Uganda and Ghana alone - and this number continues to grow as Opportunity helps more small-scale farmers harness their full potential. But what does this look like for farmers and their families?

1. Fair Prices

Though Teddy Namagembe has been a coffee farmer in Uganda since childhood, nothing could prepare her for the sudden death of her husband. By employing all she learned and accessing financial tools and training in modern farming practices, the mother of four was able to survive the hungry season between harvests. Here’s how – she found a business partner. She stopped pre-selling her coffee beans at a lower price when she was desperate for income, what she refers to as "hitting rock bottom," and began garnering a substantially higher profit per yield because Opportunity International links farmers like Teddy with the markets they need to sell at the right time and at the right price. She accesses loans in the form of inputs like high-quality seeds and fertilizers, transforming her once-diminishing farm into a thriving operation that exceeds her wildest dreams. Through this journey, Teddy has gained a new sense of confidence and hope for the future. Although she still grieves the loss of her husband, she is grateful that she has a flourishing farm that supports her family now and will be her legacy to pass on to her children in the future.  

2. Growing Communities

Yofesi Nsubuga, farmer and father to eight children, is also thankful for Opportunity's partnership with cooperatives and Ugandan coffee farmers like him. After losing his eyesight to an illness, Yofesi feared for his children's futures as five of them still live at home. However, the resilient farmer never let his disability get in the way of his dreams to provide all of his children with an education. After joining forces with Opportunity, he received the business plan training, partnerships and tools he needed to succeed on the farm and in his family life. Thankfully, Yofesi is not alone in this. Nearly 70% of the coffee harvested in his village is also sold via the cooperative partnership. He told us, "This makes us very proud. We now have 280 thriving coffee plants and I have fully funded five of my children through school.” 

3. Raising Leaders

The Kalumba family and their thirteen children have overcome decades of generational poverty and are now reaching out to other families in their community. After partnering with Opportunity's branch in Mubende, Uganda and implementing modern agricultural practices, Raphael Kalumba accepted a leadership role in his agriculture group, teaching others how Opportunity products can help them too. After cultivating his own clean water source for his family to use and establishing an irrigation system for his crops, Raphael is just getting started. The Kalumbas are now providing clean water for their neighbors and continue to create more jobs in the community, so that their employees too can send their children to school. Raphael says, "If I achieve success, I must share it with others." 

So, whether you turn to a warm vanilla latte to get you through Monday morning or to one too many caramel-filled chocolate treats, skip the guilt trip and remember that coffee and cocoa are feeding more mouths than yours. By equipping these farmers with financial services, efficient technology, meaningful partnerships within the Agricultural Value Chain and relevant training, Opportunity is brewing up economic growth and prosperity for communities throughout Africa - and we want you to join in! 

Allie is a 2015 Summer Marketing Intern at Opportunity International. When she's not writing for Opportunity, she studies Marketing and Finance at Bethel University.  

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