Coffee distribution business opportunity turns into ag trade deal with Kenya

Kenyan Secretary of Ag.jpg

A coffee business idea is brewing up an international trade plan.

An entrepreneur has been working with Grand Island Economic Development Corporation to bring a Kenyan coffee wholesale business to Grand Island. Now Kenyan delegates are more serious about trading Nebraskan ag products and techniques.

"They are definitely for this, they realize it's really good for the farmers and we are looking forward to it," Dave Taylor, president of the Grand Island Economic Development Corporatio, said at the city council meeting.

It started with a simple act of helping an entrepreneur get a delegation together to build a coffee distribution business. But became a big opportunity.

After the first meeting with Kenyan delegates they wanted to see what they could bring to the table to export from Nebraska.

"How else can we help with their farming. That's when they requested ... can you bring all these experts with us," Taylor said.

According to the GIEDC, Kenyan delegates were surprised and impressed by Nebraska farming. They said that Kenyan delegates were surprised at the larger size of cattle, efficiency of farming techniques, and house building.

"Irrigation I believe there will be exports from right in the area to Kenya to actually irrigate their crop land," Taylor said.

The GIEDC says they will continue to explore U.S. product export opportunities to Kenya including housing techniques, and cattle farming techniques.

Laban Njuguna is the entrepreneur and Kenya native who got in touch with 700,000 small farmers who have what he calls the best coffee in the world.

He says this business will help the poor farmers get to a better life - knowing many make a living off of coffee - some, his family members.

"I never got into this for the money. I got into this because I believed there was an opportunity here and nobody else was going to do it."

In fact, both Njunguna and Taylor agree that for Kenyan coffee farmers, this business deal is a big deal.

"The farmers are very poor. They don't have control over their coffee pricing. There are other cartels involved. So this opportunity really has a chance to make wealth where there never has been wealth before," Taylor said.

Njuguna said this coffee business will be a platform for small coffee farmers to gain more control and a law that prohibits farmers from getting business opportunities is getting more attention from Kenyan officials.

"Some of the laws that are in the books right now actually make it really hard..they basically state that a coffee farmer cannot sell their coffee to a willing buyer," Njunguna said.

In Grand Island, the EDC says 8 to12 jobs will be created from this distribution center in Grand Island along with more doors opening.

"It's also going to bring a lot of people into Grand Island that wouldn't normally come here," Taylor said.

Taylor als said people from the coasts and the south, will come to taste the best Kenya coffee in the world for cupping events and other coffee related businesses.

Next step is to keep working with Kenyan government, farmers, and co op owners to import products.

"We were very lucky to have this experience," Taylor said.

"I don't think this could have been possible without the support of Dave Taylor," Njunguna said.

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