by Irina Negoita, Communications Manager for Cafédirect
Here at Cafédirect we have always strived to provide an exemplary model and go above and beyond the Fairtrade label, using business as a force for good to change lives and build communities. In addition to the Fairtrade social premiums we pay for the crops, Cafédirect reinvest at least one third of our profits to grower businesses and communities. To date, we have invested over 50% of the profits back into the 40 producer organisations they support across 14 countries! For examples of projects that benefitted from this initiative, visit http://www.cafedirect.co.uk/discover-our-difference/reinvestment/.
Cafédirect believe it’s the growers on the ground who are in the best position to decide how these funds can best help their communities. As a result, since 2009, the development projects have been managed by the Cafédirect Producers’ Foundation (CPF), a registered charity led by growers for growers. Many initiatives focus on strengthening the farmers’ experience, knowledge and expertise and implementing techniques to improve the quality of the coffee, tea and cocoa they produce. You can find out more about CPF by visiting their website.
A fantastic example of Cafédirect’s impact is the work we carried out in the West African Island of São Tomé, in partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the Department for International Development, to perfect the quality of the cocoa! Also known as “Chocolate Island”, São Tomé is famous for its high quality cocoa, due to a combination of rich soils and the perfect balance of temperature, humidity and forest shade.
For three years, Cafédirect worked closely with farmers in 11 villages, enabling them to increase their capacity to process raw cocoa. The farmers were trained to dry and ferment the cocoa beans, which resulted in better quality cocoa, with a deliciously rich taste. We also supported the 11 villages to form a Fairtrade certified co-operative, Cecaq – 11, allowing them to trade directly on the international market. Thanks to the project, the cocoa produced by the São Tomé co-op ensures better prices and livelihoods for the farmers, and a luxury hot chocolate for Cafédirect!
Farmers are at the very heart of Cafédirect and influence everything we do. They hold two out of eight seats on the company’s Board, contributing to the decisions that govern the business, while 89% of the producer partners own shares in the company, making them direct beneficiaries of the success of the business
From 2013, Cafédirect have been building their social and environmental strategies into the overall business plan.This reflects the progress made so far in integrating sustainability into the business model and is a big step towards the full integration they are aiming for.
Addressing and improving the environmental impacts of our business is a critical part of this, and it’s why Integrated Environmental Action is a key pillar of our Gold Standard. We’re always striving to become a more sustainable business and improve our environmental impacts, as well as influencing others to make progress in the areas we can’t fix alone. It’s a long journey that involves working with farmers, processors and consumers, as well as key partners, such as the Waste & Resources Action Plan (WRAP), eco3 and Forum for the Future.
We’ve been using our own tailor-made carbon footprinting tool for four years, to understand where our biggest impacts are and what we can do about them.
Through our direct relationships with smallholder farmers, and by supporting the Cafédirect Producer Foundation, we help farmers to pursue more environmentally sustainable tea, coffee and cocoa production, improving their own impacts and adapting to climate change.
We collaborate with our processing partners, using our influence to incentivise the highest environmental performance and to inspire innovation. We have ongoing targets to reduce our packaging – as part of that in 2014 we launched our fully encapsulated coffee pods with 60% less packaging and 50% less carbon footprint.