Social Entrepreneur Creating Brand Awareness For Kenyan Coffee

Muthoni Schneidewind

During the career fair we had an amazing lady, Muthoni, who supplied 100% Kenyan Coffee from her company Chania Coffee and the amazing thing was, she referred to herself as a social entrepreneur. Most of us understood the Entrepreneur part but what did she mean when she put social and entrepreneur together? And I sought to find out:

 1. What is a social entrepreneur? 

A social entrepreneur is an individual who carries out a business for the benefit of the community. They act as the change agents for society, seizing opportunities others miss in order to improve systems, invent and disseminate new approaches and advance sustainable solutions that create social value. Chania Coffee is a for-profit social enterprise where 10% of our revenues is donated to the Kedovo e.V to fund our IGPs existing projects and at the same time support the education requirements of the children of the coffee farmers.

 

 2. How does a social entrepreneur differ from a commercial one? 

A social entrepreneurship differs from a commercial entrepreneur in that commercial business entrepreneurs transform industries, social entrepreneurs transform societies by creating solutions to change that society for the  better.We see the rural people as resources and all that needs to be done is to facilitate their capacity in order to bring out their capabilities.

 

 

3. Tell us about your company? Who is Chania Coffee and what do you do?

Chania Coffee is a new trend in the coffee world, especially in the Kenyan coffee supply chain. We are a dedicated team which is split between our offices in Germany and Kenya. We are a group of people that have a

Chania Coffee Logo

passion for community development and our social impact is intrinsically tied to our business proposition.

What we do is to connect the coffee roasters in the global market and get them to work side by side with the farmers which in turn brings out a win-win solution: the farmers get a fair price for the coffee through Direct Sales and the roasters are at the ‘forefront’ in bringing their customers best quality coffees.

 

4. Why the name “Chania” Coffee? Chania isn’t very common.

Hahaha Chania is a tribute to the river that has given these small-scale coffee producing communities their livelihoods. We settled also on the name as part of our broader campaign to create a Brand Awareness for Kenyan Coffees especially in Europe. A lot of Kenyan coffee is sold in Germany especially but all under ‘foreign’ names. We felt that the industry needed a new ‘twist’ with a name that related to these farmers who work tirelessly to bring to the consumers the best possible results in a cup.

 

5. What are Chania Coffee’s main objectives?

As a for- profit social enterprise our main objective is make positive changes in our areas of work. How? by connecting the small-scale coffee farmers we are expanding their markets, our objective is to enhance ‘worthy lives for the kenyan coffee farmers’. These communities have the resources yet they do not have an idea that sustainability is accessible….we make it happen ( may the force be with us lol)

Chania Coffee

6. How does Chania Coffee go about accomplishing these objectives?

We have identified several areas where we are aggressively working on, and one of them is ensuring that agri-business coffee practices is practiced.  This is an approach where we first train the farmers on what a successful agri-business undertaking is all about. One has to ask themselves whether what they are doing is profitable or not; the farming communities simply don’t factor the crucial aspect of cost of labour in their calculations; an enterprise be it coffee producing should be able to pay the owner and the workers or else it’s not worth undertaking. We enhance capacity building for the farmers through practical open field days, in so doing we have not only brought knowledge & solutions but we have facilitated them to improve the quality of their products as well and diversified their portfolio in the process; after this we are ready to connect the farmers to the global market leading to better prices for their product and worthy lives.

 

7. How/Where can coffee lovers access Chania Coffee?

Coffee lovers all over the world can access our exclusive Kenyan coffees be either green beans for home roasting, roasted coffees , ground coffee or a ‘Special burlap gift bag’ (assorted coffees as a gifted package) on our Online Shop www.chaniacoffee.de we freshly roast the coffees on order and any orders sent before 11 am are shipped on the same day.

 

8. Where do you see Chania Coffee in 10yrs?

You should be asking me where I see my farmers in 10 years 😉 I see my farmers in 10 years living dignified livelihoods and having developed environmentally friendly cultivation of coffee, and seeing their coffee all through the value addition chain.

 

9. Advice to those looking into social entrepreneurship?

You know what they say about a gut feeling? or whatever you want to call it, have a moment to yourself and ask yourself if you really are the ‘change agent’ for that society. Do not go into social entrepreneurship simply because so and so is doing it. One thing that every businessperson whether SE or CB should ask is why do we have to move from one approach to another? That means there is a gap, and to fill this gap you have to render a reliable strategy. Just like a commercial business you will have to have a passion for SE. The clock has to be your best pal! and yes you have to bring in money! to support your long lasting social impact…Network.

And just like the commercial business you have to stay competitive; you have to be marketable-no matter how great your mission statement is no one will buy your products if they are of inferior quality.

And partner; Brace yourself: you are in for long nights, negativity from people who don’t understand your point of view, competition etc BUT never give up, your hard work will pay…and please before you embark on SE understand the various regulations in each and every state as pertains for-profit SE and non-profits. And lastly just like any other businesses; learn from your failures….its not so bad after all.

 

10. Challenges and how do you deal with them? You are based in Hamburg and the coffee comes from Nyeri and you have a full time job in Hamburg that doesn’t involve coffee.

Chania Coffee faces the challenges of the numerous local intermediaries especially in Kenya by way of transport, insurance, warehousing and shipping;levies/licences, marketing agents just to mention but a few. This translates that only 58% of the F.O.B export price reaches the grower. Sometimes there is a lot of delay in delivering to the clients and this means looking for back-up measures of even airlifting the coffee! We are working closely with our partners in Kenya to try and smoothen up the supply chain.

Another challenge is that at times I have to choose between Chania Coffee and my job. I work in the business development field for an FMCG company and that simply translates to me being on my toes all the time! The best part of working in Europe is the simplicity of having a ‘home office’ where I can still deliver without actually going to the office; I hope my boss is not reading this!

 

11. How do you juggle being a wife, a mum, a big sister, an entrepreneur and a full time employee?

Hahahaha you thought ‘super moms’ was just a fairy tale 😉 now you have met one! My child is turning 3 this summer and we make sure we spend a great time together everyday. Time management is very crucial; we sort of have our own ‘unexplained routine’. My husband starts work at 6 am and that means he’s home at 3:30pm to be able to pick our child from daycare. Him starting work so early means that we miss having breakfast together but I’m also not a breakfast person; apart from my 2 cups of Chania Coffee at the start of the day!

I drop my child at the daycare on my way to work at 8am and then I have to call my younger sister who lives in Lorsch to make sure she’s up and running already ( some people say I’m a control freak, but halloo someone has to get things done- that’s my drive in SE ;)) after my day at work I’m home at 5pm and we have dinner together and then our child goes to bed at 7:30pm. After this we catch up with my husband on how our days were etc. Later on I have to work for both the Coffee business and the Non-profit organisation till 11pm (if am not too busy gossiping with you on Facebook lol)

To achieve all this, you have to be self-determined and to know what you really want in life. Its all about Attitude…….I believe ‘I can do it, and if I cannot do it please let me fail in the attempt’.

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