Ahka Ama ( Thailand Coffee )

Great talk from Lee last night. He runs a social enterprise, Akha Ama, helping coffee farmers in Thailand, specifically the Ahka tribe. He grew up there and rather than pursue a career away from the village after graduating he decided to help his village through selling their coffee.

Problems

The coffee farmers had a distribution problem which meant they were at the mercy of the collectors and the amount they chose to offer to pay.They did not speak Thai and so were unable to bypass the collectors.

Solution

They took over the role of the middleman to help with the distribution but in a completely different way !

1) Introduced cupping to the farmers to improve quality by feedback from others

2) Created their own localised coffee wheel to convey flavour profiles

3) Created wholesale and retail business to become self-sufficient

4) Created their own program to research the best way to process their coffee

5) Started Coffee journey - an opportunity for people to visit the village and farms.

Made use of integrated farming and permaculture to generate fertiliser and have multiple income streams throughout the year. They became self sufficient

Started friends trade - an opportunity for roasters to work with farmers and work with farmers to create a tailored coffee.

Results

Now demand outstrips supply
Farmers earn 3 times minimum wage
Young people are returning to the village as a result of their efforts.

Future

Plan to build an academy for young people - to teach them the business.

Takeaways

An important aspect was continuously seeking feedback from the others about products.
Not sell a poverty story but quality coffee. Not just sell a story but quality coffee and service

Thanks to PolyU Goodseed and Virginia Tam for organising

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