Starbucks To Improve Coffee Quality in Rwanda
According Howard Shultz, the president and CEO of Starbucks who was recently on a visit in the country to open the enterprise's first office on the continent, the business model used by the company ensures that it makes profit but also gives back to the community.
Initially, the Rwandan coffee sector focused on quantity rather than quality. Yet in the early 2000s, a new strategy for the sector was introduced which led to a boom in coffee washing stations being built to improve the quality and add value to the coffee. Moreover, farmers switched to varieties that were more appropriate for the so-called "specialty coffee" market.<!-- close google_inset_a div -->
As a result, Rwandan Arabica coffee began fetching high prices on the US market. Having a nose for good coffee, Starbucks quickly became interested and set up activities to help farmers further improve coffee quality through disbursing knowledge to farmers, introducing them to best practices as well as ensuring they make a fair profit from coffee sales.
However, Starbucks has been hit by the economic downturn which has led to reduction in profits and the closure of hundreds of its coffee shops in the U.S. "There is no doubt that America has been affected and that consumers have changed their behavior," Shultz admitted, adding however that this played in Starbucks' hand. "Consumers want to be associated with companies that give back to the community," he said.
He indicated that that is how Starbucks has been operating since its inception forty years ago, and therefore expressed optimism that the current economic situation is going to reverse, hence allowing Starbucks to maintain the fabric of what it stands for.
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