Coffee is one of the most important export products of the East African state of Uganda. The coffee producer “Kalaa Mugosi Women Empowerment Ltd” not only produces coffee but is also committed to supporting disadvantaged women and girls in rural areas of the country. In January 2020, hence shortly before the world was caught by the corona virus, agronomist and SEC expert Markus Weber traveled to the city of Budadiri in eastern Uganda.
Kalaa Mugosi had contacted the SEC to find an expert in the coffee sector. He was to help them improve the quality of specialty coffee production while reducing production costs. They also needed assistance in identifying international partnerships, especially from organizations interested in projects focusing on the empowerment of women.
As a graduate engineer for tropical agriculture, SEC expert Markus Weber had exactly the right profile to help the company. He himself had lived in Tanzania for many years and was responsible for the processing and quality management of coffee as production manager. At Kalaa Mugosi, he was therefore able to quickly focus on improving primary coffee quality and pass on his knowledge of suitable machines and procedures. He was also able to give the producer ideas and tips on how to expand their network and made suggestions for possible international partnerships.
To the client
“Kalaa Mugosi Women Empowerment Ltd” was founded in 2013 and is a women-led organization that produces coffee. The coffee is grown, processed and roasted by female coffee farmers in the country. In total they work with over 2’000 female farmers in Uganda and produce over 200 tons of coffee per year. The company aims to offer high-quality coffee while improving the social, economic, and cultural status of women, girls and youths in rural areas.
In Kalaa Mugosi’s case, the problem was primarily one of quality: over 60% of the coffee supplied by the female farmers consisted of wet and semi-dry parchment coffee or whole coffee cherries. These need to be processed quickly, otherwise an international quality standard of green coffee cannot be achieved. Therefore, they asked the SEC for an expert who could analyze and optimize the so-called Value Chain Management. He should also be able to help them with marketing and with expanding their market position. By producing high-quality coffee products, they hoped to achieve better revenues for the female farmers.
Questions to the expert Markus Weber
How do you judge the achieved results in general?
My main tasks were to evaluate the entire value chain and optimize coffee processing. Most of these objectives were achieved and I am very satisfied with what we have accomplished in terms of Value Chain analysis. We also established contact with an international roasting company in Switzerland, which has already shown positive signs of interest.
What impressed you the most during the assignment?
The board of the organization is mainly headed by women. Most of them are teachers by profession. They are very open to new things and want the organization to be successful. The managing director is a young woman with a vision and a strong will to achieve her goals. As a client, she has actively helped to find improvements and implement them immediately. During the peak season more than 30 women are employed in the coffee factory and the working atmosphere is familiar and friendly.
I have enjoyed this assignment and I am convinced that this company will make a difference for many women and their families. I believe that Kalaa Mugosi makes a very important contribution to the social well-being of this region.
What did not work as expected during your assignment?
To introduce the system of coffee pruning to the female farmers. Many of them are afraid of losing coffee if they prune the trees. I have therefore recommended that the team select some of the female farmers and start with a demonstration plot in their fields. A few trees should be pruned as
Are you confident that the association will be able to sell its banana beer successfully in the future?
We will know when all the changes are completed and the roasting plant in Switzerland shows interest in buying their coffee. Generally, it is a very interesting enterprise that will help many coffee farmers to improve their financial and social situation.
The goal of the organization is to reach over 3’000 female farmers in the countryside by 2024 and to double the capacity of their own coffee processing factory. Both goals will create new jobs.