SUPPORTING A COMMUNITY-BASED MODEL FOR BUSINESS GROWTH AND SUSTAINABILITY

Blessed Coffee is a socially responsible business and trade that supports the development of coffee growing regions and communities where coffee is sold.  Based on the philosophy “from the farmer to your cup,” Blessed Coffee directly connects more than 240,000 Ethiopian small coffee farmers, representing one million families, with specialty coffee consumers in the United States.  With fewer middlemen, Blessed Coffee offers the finest Ultra Premium, Single Origin and Organic Coffee selections that intertwine Ethiopian culture with a business model that celebrates community and advances social and economic development.

Blessed Coffee was founded by husband and wife team, Tebabu Assefa and Sara Mussie, in 2011 and is headquartered in Takoma Park, Maryland.  It is the nation’s second Benefit Corporation—a class of corporation that creates a positive material impact on society while generating a profit.  Blessed Coffee is also distinguished for its unique business model known as Virtuous Exchange and is a recipient of the White House “Champion of Change” award.  This model creates a real relationship between producers and consumers that goes beyond an economic transaction to produce common good. 

Through its virtuous exchange model Blessed Coffee goes a step beyond other socially and environmentally responsible businesses.  Through a first-of-its kind partnership Ethiopian coffee farmers, organized under the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, are offered a 50% investment partnership opportunity in Blessed Coffee and a 50% Access to Equal Benefit Sharing of the profit from the wholesale revenue stream.  Coffee drinkers also benefit from this model in which Blessed Coffee will provide 50% of the profits from the retail business to local nonprofits that provide vital public services.  

To raise the capital needed to open the coffeehouse, Blessed Coffee assembled a team of businesses and individual professionals, including Shifting Patterns, to launch the Brewing Change Campaign.  The company’s role was to facilitate the transition from a group of individuals that had not worked together before to an effectively functioning team.  Where most groups launch straight into task, Shifting Patterns’ Chief Change Architect began with a different approach that involved laying the groundwork for effective performance through relationship building.  An important part of this process was developing a team charter that explained the purpose of the campaign, individual roles and responsibilities, and how the team would work together.  

In addition to supporting the formation of sub-groups Kimberley created space for members to work within and across groups to enhance communication and collaboration.  Backbone support was also provided for the campaign, which enabled members to concentrate on the launch process.  This included facilitating team meetings and communication between members, on-boarding new campaign members, and tracking the progress of key deliverables.  Investing in team building and backbone support enabled team members to work effectively with each other and progress towards the achievement of collective goals.

As a result, Blessed Coffee was prepared to launch a campaign to attract the capital and strong following needed to take the company to the next level of growth. Equally as important as building a community of support through the Brewing Change Campaign is the community that existed within the campaign where members from different backgrounds contributed their unique talents to a common cause.

Learn more about the Brewing Change Campaign at: http://www.brewingchange.us

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