Starbucks Invests in Burundian Coffee
Rosa Whitaker, President and CEO of The Whitaker Group (TWG), has praised the Starbucks Coffee Company for including coffee from Burundi’s Kayanza region on the featured menu in stores nationally.
|Roasted Coffee Beans|
“This is a testament to Burundi’s hard work in bringing peace to their country and to Starbucks’ commitment to African development,” said Ms. Whitaker, who worked with the Embassy of Burundi to facilitate a Starbucks team visit to Burundi in 2007. She called the promotion a “peace dividend” for Burundi, emphasizing the benefits to the country’s economy. “Working with Starbucks will create more jobs, boost the coffee industry and bring about the kind of growth that helps raise living standards for everyone.”
Coffee is one of Burundi’s most important products, with 90 percent of foreign exchange coming from coffee and tea exports. About 800,000 farmers work in coffee production, making up more than a quarter of the labor force. Burundi’s economy is still recovering from a civil war that lasted for over a decade, but the government has been committed to the challenges of economic and social reconstruction and anticipates a significant increase in coffee exports through working with Starbucks.
Optimism on the part of the government was reflected in comments by Burundi’s Ambassador to the United States, Celestin Niyongabo, who said, “We are pleased about the opportunities that Starbucks’ investment brings to Burundi’s economy and its people including improved access to health, education and job training.”
The Ambassador added, “We hope that this partnership can serve as a model for investment by other American companies across all sectors of Burundi’s economy and will generate more exposure and demand for Burundian coffee around the world.”
Starbucks’ promotion is expected to help raise Burundi’s profile in global specialty coffee markets. Ms. Whitaker notes that this partnership is the latest example of a surge of positive US company engagement in Africa. “What we’re seeing is people recognizing that Africa is a major player in the global economy, and we’re going to see more of that in the future,” she said. Starbucks is quickly becoming a major specialty coffee buyer in Africa and is the largest purveyor of Fair Trade coffee in the United States.
The company has built a farmer support center in Rwanda, Burundi’s northern neighbor, to serve farmers across the region. The company has also invested millions of dollars in community-development projects in coffee-origin countries in Africa and around the world, including providing support for CARE to deliver clean water and sanitation to displaced populations in Burundi since 1996.
For more information, contact:
Margaret Dallett (202) 293-1453
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