For 10 years, Andrew Rugasira has been working to empower coffee farmers in his native Uganda by working directly with them, paying fair wages, and creating a sense of ownership in his coffee company, Good African Coffee.
Rugasira recently told his story, and that of his company, to CNN, taking a camera crew on a tour of GAC’s processing and roasting facilities. He talks of how he got into coffee as a way to try to create cultural and economic change by empowering people who had been exploited in the agricultural sector — specifically, coffee growers in Western Uganda.
“I was surprised at the level at which farmers had been exploited in the industry,” Rugasira says early on in the video series, noting that his experience when he came into the coffee industry was primarily in branding and marketing. “I was surprised with the cynicism — the suspicion of outsiders coming in with business models. I was surprised about how much communication we had to do with the farmers to communicate our vision.”
He continues: “The technical stuff you can learn….but I was surprised about some of the social structural constraints that are in the rural economy.”