Click above to see the trailer for our Kenyan coffee video. Full video coming soon. Read below to learn about the Specialty Coffees Association of America (SCAA)'s recent buyers' mission to Kenya.
Discover Kenya's Specialty Coffees
On a sunny day in late November, five off-road safari vehicles climbed to Hill Farm at the base of Mt. Kenya. The farm, one of the oldest and largest in East Africa, is home to nearly 900 acres of coffee bushes, some dating back to 1914. The Land Rovers contained a Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) delegation of 31 international coffee buyers, roasters, and baristas, all of whom were on a trip of a lifetime - tracing some of the world's most well loved coffee beans to its place of origin.
"There's something about a good Kenyan coffee that you don't find in a lot of other
origins. It's a combination of the flavor, the acidity, the body, the mouth-feel. I like to call it completeness,"
said Mike French a coffee shop owner and roaster from Minnesota, and a delegate on the SCAA trip.
Kenya will be the "portrait country" in the upcoming S
CAA conference where more than 5,000 coffee buyers - many of whom are willing to pay a premium for quality beans that are picked by fairly paid workers - gather to discuss the newest trends in coffee and make coffee sourcing decisions. The USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub (the Hub) is supporting Kenya, and other East African countries, to market its coffee and make buyer linkages at the April 2017 SCAA conference. The Hub also supported the SCAA "Origin Trip to Kenya".
The Kenya Government has identified coffee as one of the sectors with the greatest potential for U.S. expansion. In the late 1980s, Kenya exported more than 120,000 metric tons of clean coffee in a single year. More recent yearly exports stand around 40,000 metric tons. Returning to its previous export level means more jobs and better livelihoods for the smallholder farmers who predominantly grow Kenya's high-quality coffee. Kenya's Agriculture and Food Authority Coffee Directorate estimates that coffee production accounts for 30 percent of employment in the agricultural sector.
The Origin Trip provided coffee professionals with the opportunity to meet the smallholder farmers who hand pick Kenya's coffee cheeries and dry the parchment on raised beds - a practice, that in addition to the high altitude, volcanic soil and combination of cool nights and sunny days, is said to provide Kenyan coffee with the bright, acidic, fruity qualities that are so prized among coffee connoisseurs.
The SCAA delegates skillfully assign flavors and attributes to brewed coffee. Many of them are expert cuppers, those individuals who snort and swish coffee to assess its grade. Specialty coffee needs to score 80 points or higher on the SCAA cuppers form, as assessed by flavor and bean form. But for customers, specialty coffee is more than just the quality of the coffee; it's also about the story of origin.
"We want to take our customers on a journey,"
said Mike French
. "Specialty coffee is about more than just quality, it is also about the story and relationships - where it comes from and who produces it.
The "Origin Trip to Kenya" provided the coffee shop owners and buyers to first take that journey for themselves. Mike intends to source more coffee from Kenya because of the Origin Trip. He'll also be able to better articulate why his customers should be willing to pay more for the meticulously harvested beans.
"It's one of the ways you can do good for people, quickly. You decide to pay them more for their coffee," said Rob Hoos Director of Coffee at Nossa Familia and a SCAA delegate.
Alive and Kicking: Growing SMEs Through Access to Quality Resources
Football (soccer) manufacturer Alive and Kicking Kenya (A + K) uses the power of sports to create employment and change lives. They inscribe inspirational messages on their handstiched footballs to spread positive messages in their community and in those who buy their footballs. They have strong demand for their product, but until they met the East Africa Trade and Investment Hub (the Hub), they didn't have access to high-quality leather to be able to meet the demand.
The Hub provides technical support to companies who are looking to improve and expand their production to reach the export market.
The Hub introduced A+K to the largest producer of high-quality leather in Kenya, Alpharama Limited.
The Hub and Alpharama are partnering
to help small- and medium-sized enterprises (like A + K) purchase quality leather in quantities smaller than what most tanneries allow. Access to high-quality leather from Alpharama has been a game changer for A + K. They are now able to obtain high-quality leather at affordable prices to make more footballs, which in turn has driven the need for more employment.
"The Hub's support has been very significant to A + K. We are now able to increase our production while at the same time reduce our production cost. There is more demand for our leather products hence better employment opportunities for Kenyans," said Richard Gituro, the Sales Manager at A + K.
Juliet Auma, a former shopkeeper, says employment as a football stitcher at A + K has transformed her life. She is now able to afford transport, food, and school fees for her children. Her colleague Edward Orwaro, an employee since 2006, has similar sentiments. He has a passion for stitching footballs and is keen to train students on short-term contracts. He says he is happy to be an employee with A + K, which offers him greater job stability than his previous work in the "Jua kali (informal, odd jobs) sector".
A + K employs 62 permanent employees and 14 short-term employees. It has trained over 200 stitchers. Many of these trainees have been able to start their own businesses and create more employment opportunities for others. A + K produced over 42,000 footballs in 2015 and exported 10% of their production; they hope to produce even more in 2016!
Rwanda and Uganda Assess Progress on EAC Common Market Protocol Implementation
The Hub, in collaboration with the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda and Rwanda's Private Sector Federation, held common market information dissemination workshops in Kampala and Kigali in December. The workshops were designed to engage the public and private sector on issues and progress made by the country in relation to the implementation of the East African Community (EAC) Common Market Protocol. The Protocol seeks to establish a single market area such that there is free movement of goods, services, labor and capital among Partner States.
The Hub works with legal experts in each of the Partner States to research country-level legislative developments and their impact on the integration process. The aim is to flag potentially retrogressive measures, such as discrimination against citizens of other Partner States from participating in the country's economy.
Read the highlights and download the presentations: Uganda here, and Rwanda here.
The EAC Common Market in one minute
Kenyan SMEs Prepare for Success at MAGIC Trade Show
On December 14, the Hub collaborated with the Kenya Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives and the Export Processing Zones Authority to hold an information session for potential MAGIC Show 2017 Kenyan exhibitors. MAGIC is the premier apparel trade show in the U.S. The MAGIC exhibition halls are vast and U.S. buyers can be demanding. Exhibitors need to be prepared. The Hub's U.S.-based apparel consultant, Ms. Mary Marino, outlined what to expect at MAGIC and provided tips for making productive business linkages.
"I didn't go to business school. Today's meeting enabled me to learn more about the industry," said Goodies Interiors and Gifts Director Goodie Odhiambo.
A few of Marino's tips:
"This is a great initiative and the information given today is quite an eye opener to enable me export to the U.S," said Jane Miriti.
- Run a focused product review of what samples you'll take to Magic, ensuring it represents your best execution and full capabilities that are market-ready for the U.S.
- Look at the competition and learn how to market your product. How can you differentiate yourself?
- Prepare yourself for the buyers who may walk through. Look at the websites of Macys, Target, and Bed, Bath & Beyond.
- Have business cards and be ready with talking points about your products.
- Properly mark booth items with reference numbers. Help buyers take notes on your products
The Hub is collaborating with the USAID Trade Hubs in West and southern Africa to host the largest presence of African exhibitors in MAGIC's history. Companies from East Africa will represent the lion's share of exhibitors, including Kenya which has been dubbed a "focus country" by the show organizers.
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Assisting Tanzania to Harmonize its Seed Standards for Improved Trade in Staples
The Hub will hold a workshop on January 10 - 11, 2017 to support Tanzania in its efforts to streamline its seed sector by harmonizing its seed standards and regulations with regional and international standards. Seed standards and regulations impact who can produce, market, and distribute seeds as well as how seeds are imported and exported across Tanzania's borders. The activity will also raise awareness among key stakeholders on how to effectively implement the new standards and increase seed and staple foods trade in the region.
Aligning Tanzania's seed policy with regional and international standards will allow Tanzanian producers to increase access to improved seeds and further integrate Tanzania's seed and staple food trade with the EAC region.
Addressing Post-Harvest Losses in East Africa
The Hub recently entered into its second partnership with the Inter Region Economic Network (IREN). This time in support of an East African Community (EAC) post-harvest technology challenge competition to encourage agriculture innovation and technology adoption in East Africa. The competition will target ready-to-scale technologies for expansion and distribution throughout the region. The top ten ready-to-scale technologies will be invited to showcase and pitch their innovations in a special session during the 1st All Africa Post Harvest Congress and Exhibition in March 2017, organized by the World Food Preservation Center (WFPC), in conjunction with the University of Nairobi. The top three innovations will receive a cash prize/seed capital.
"We are very excited to partner with the Hub once more. We believe this competition will go a long way in finding solutions to post harvest losses." - James Shikwati, Director, IREN.
The competition contributes to the Hub's work to promote agriculture innovations that have the potential for scale. The competition also contributes to the Hub's support of youth and women, as the competition is expected to attract applicants from these two groups. Further, the competition will focus on the Hub's priority staple value chains (i.e. maize and other grains, beans and legumes, fruits and vegetables, animal and animal products) of which women make up the majority of market participants.
The objective of the competition is to provide a platform where both suppliers and users of post-harvest innovations can interact, thus facilitating broader adoption of improved post-harvest technologies in the region.
View a photo story about the Hub's previous collaboration with IREN, the Young Innovators in Agribusiness Competition,
The Hub and Open Capital Advisors to Collaborate in Support of Export-Oriented SMEs
On December 1, the Hub signed a grant agreement with financial advisory firm Open Capital Advisors Limited. The grant supports a two-year project designed to increase regional exports and investments through tailored business support. Specifically, Open Capital will identify and support 15 high-potential, export-focused businesses with the goal of raising $8 million in capital and enabling long-term growth.
"The partnership with Open Capital Advisors constitutes a key element of our strategy to support the growth of the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector in East Africa; we do expect that the jobs, exports and the growth derived from this activity will contribute to the prosperity of the region, while encouraging the financial sector to engage with SMEs," said the Hub's Chief of Party Juan Estrada.
The Open Capital grant contributes to the Hub's overall objective of increasing trade and investment in East Africa.
"We are very excited to partner with the East Africa Trade and Investment Hub to increase access to finance for high-potential, small and growing businesses. With the Hub's support, we will be able to work with 15 export-focused companies across Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda in order to catalyze millions of dollars in transactions under USD $3M. We look forward to partnering together and deepening our presence in the region," said Open Capital Partner Annie Roberts.
|The East Africa Trade and Investment Hub supports two U.S. presidential initiatives:
Trade Africa is a partnership between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa to increase internal and regional trade within Africa, and expand trade and economic ties among Africa, the United States, and other global markets.
Feed the Future strives to increase agricultural production and the incomes of both men and women in rural areas who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. Investments in inclusive agriculture-led growth encompass improving agricultural productivity, expanding markets and trade, and increasing the economic resilience of vulnerable rural communities.
The author's views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Agency for International Development or the United States Government.