Social Impact meets Coffee 1/2
10 January 2018 - Impact Hub Basel
We launched 2018 with our first event, “What is an Impact Hub?” And we did so with much success! As this was my first event at Impact Hub, I loved meeting the attendees. It’s truly heart-warming to meet so many caring, passionate, thoughtful people when it seems every day we are bombarded with only negative news stories. On that note, I’d like to offer up right here, right now, an uplifting story—yes, uplifting!—about two such thoughtful people. A story of how a couple’s love of travel, coffee and community not only turned into a successful business, but how their values-based business created, and still creates, an impact for good in this world. Since we at Impact Hub Basel will focus on Social Entrepreneurs, this is a perfect opportunity to offer a glimpse of our future here…

I give you Michael and Marie from Direct Coffee…

When you hear that someone went to Ethiopia on their honeymoon, you can’t NOT take notice. Who does this?! So when I met Michael Tuil and he mentioned that, I knew I was speaking with someone quite unique. He and his wife not only chose Ethiopia as a honeymoon destination, but they loved it so much and fell in love with the people there, they decided to make this place and community a central part of their lives back here in Switzerland. In November 2015, Michael, who studied Social Business, and Marie, a Journalist and Social Economist, came up with the idea of a social start-up that combines coffee trade with positive change. Less than two months later, they had quit their jobs and were again in Ethiopia! They met with coffee farmers, found local partners for their social projects, and then selected their first batch of coffee for their new business. Only half a year after the initial idea, they were set to begin. Crazy awesome! In their 35 square meter apartment in Zurich, they began dispatching coffee to customers around Switzerland. And voilà…Direct Coffee was officially born!

Truly making an impact? Let me count the ways…

Knowing the people who grow their coffee and ensuring they have a better life with fair prices is important to them. These are not just words to help their image. They back it up with actions.  A quarter of the sales price of their coffee remains in Ethiopia. They reinvest their profits in local projects like deworming school children, offering eye exams and providing eye glasses more affordably. This is what struck me most—how involved they are in giving back to the Ethiopian community. Well, what really struck me was that they quit their jobs and took such a bold step to make their dream a reality…Hut ab! But seriously, the social projects they’ve created and continue to support are, as they’ve put it, their personal source of motivation. To read more on this aspect of their business model, click here.

To be continued…

Carrie Aikman