Page 49 - Food & Drink Business Magazine March 2019
P. 49

Channelling hope
Loving your supply chain could save the world, writes Will Young the founder of luxury coffee buyer Campos Coffee.
WHILE globalisation connects, it also divides, polarising us from each other, the rich and the poor, those in the developed world from those in the developing.
In specialty coffee we are very aware of this divide. We are on the front lines in some of the world’s poorest places and every action we take should be an attempt to do our bit, to build bridges. Clearly, we cannot let this divide continue growing unchecked – but what is the central challenge and how do we fight it in the name of creating a better, more connected, world?
Doug Rushkoff, a prominent social thinker, has immersed himselfinthisquestion.Ina recent reflection, Rushkoff recounts a meeting he had with a group of billionaires who had sought him out to school them in the future of technology. What struck Rushkoff was that not only did they all feel powerless in the face of a fully globalised technological future, they were downright scared and convinced it would be an apocalypse in which the top one per cent were doomed to find themselves at the mercy of the other 99.
Not one of them seemed to have an ounce of faith in their fellow human beings – and why should they? After all, not one had cultivated any connection with those outside of their immediate bubble.
This disconnection is as false as it is tragic, but it is one that to some degree most of us in the developed world share. When we do think of the other, whether in PNG, South America or Africa, we tend to feel helpless and guilty, as if nothing could ever improve the lives of the disenfranchised and desperately poor. This is truly sad, because nothing could be more wrong.
Despite the widespread perception of a lack of progress, our world has made some incredible steps to lift people out of poverty. The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) largely delivered on their promise, and other key indicatorslikechildmortality, primary school enrolment and educational gender parity have shown significant gains.
We’re still a long way off, but the momentum is obvious. What isn’t obvious is why despite the ubiquity of so-called corporate social responsibility, we feel so disconnected. I believe it’s because we haven’t actually connected the substance of our lives with the substance of the other, the one in the far flung, undeveloped
Coffee buyer and Campos Coffee founder Will Young in Kenya.
place. Sure, we’ve made attempts, sworn off the products of suspected slave labour, but in the end we’ve become distracted, been time poor, exhausted, taken the easy way.
The problem isn’t that we don’t care, but we don’t know what to care about, and corporate social responsibility is well-intentioned, but too often it is more sentiment than practicalapplication.
But there is another reality, one filled with people who can be transformed by their engagement with the developed world. The developing world I know is a world where a decision to pay a few more cents per kilo for coffee means the next generation is more firmly on the path to a prosperity unknown to its forbears.
This is the glory and the challenge of binding your business to the destiny of your
supply chain. Economic reality means you won’t catapult a subsistence farmer into the middle class overnight. But when organisations are transparent in their love for their supply chains, things change, lives get better. The bridge between that world and our world is built by daily, seemingly minor, choices enriching our lives as it enrichestheirs. ✷
Will Young is the
founder of Campos
Coffee, one of the
world’s top three buyers
of luxury coffee, and is
also the chair of the Cup
of Excellence, which judges specialty coffee grown all around the world, a process that aims to transform the lives of coffee growers while connecting those in the developed world with what they have grown.
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