Approach & Project Examples
a registered 501 (c)3 nonprofit; we offer a direct buyer relationship & on-the ground assistance to coffee farming communities in Haiti for the sake of self-sustainability, dignity & economic autonomy.
We help farmers to cultivate and process high quality, gourmet coffee. Then we buy/export tons of it at higher than fair trade prices and create new markets for it: roasted coffee, green coffee, fundraising with coffee, & wholesale Haitian coffee for roasters, cafes, stores, and nonprofits.
This enables a stable outlet for our farmer partners, rids them of middlemen, and provides partial funding for our comprehensive
We work towards strengthening co-ops -- to make them leaders and innovators of their communities in the hope of keeping families together. By helping co-ops to be effective businesses, they, in turn, can provide leadership in their communities by supporting local entrepreneurs.
We may be a nonprofit - but our goal is entirely profit-driven: to help Haitians be economically autonomous through SMART business practices, by improving their product and offering insight for growth.
We provide pre-harvest financing to these small scale producers & return 100% of proceeds from roasted and green coffee sales to Haiti. Our approach requires co-ops to re-invest a portion of these proceeds towards self-sustainability where we offer matching grants & guided support. Since 2009, we have returned over $86,000 to our Haitian coffee partner farmers.
Here's how we do it (it keeps evolving as we learn, meet new partners, as co-ops develop)
It's About the Money:
- preharvest financing
- training in accounting
- helping cooperatives to build working capital (no more 36% interest loans!!)
Backstory: coffee harvests around the world span months. The coffee harvest in Haiti begins as early as September on lower elevations. Harvesting continues up the mountain side where highest elevations are picked as late as April. Coffee exports from early to late spring.
Pay Me NOW: When farmers bring cherries into cooperatives, they expect payment immediately. And yet, the product won't ship until the harvest is complete. Farmer cooperatives get paid by the exporter when coffee ships. Some farmers are willing to defer payment until the harvest ships/co-ops get paid; in some instances, corruption intervenes & farmers never get paid - so they're not likely to wait.
This brings about an interesting situation: how can farmer cooperatives pay for cherries being brought in across MONTHS when they, themselves, won't be paid until the harvest ships?
Answer: most can't. That's why farmers sell to coyotes (Dominicans who cross the border for valuable coffee) at lower prices because it's a bird in the hand. There are amazing groups like Root Capital who provide access to credit; however, most small scale cooperatives can't meet basic requirements and turn to other lending agencies in Haiti where interest rates range from 25-36%.
A better answer: help farmer cooperatives to build then reserve their own capital.
How? We have no idea but we do have a loose plan: our system depends on the strengths and goals of the cooperative. Our current ways include:
- providing interest-free or 3% low-interest, preharvest loans (cannot tell you how popular we are in Haiti)
- requiring co-ops to put a portion of their profits towards working capital & redevelopment reserves
- helping cooperatives to open bank accounts, teaching basic accounting, putting into place anti-corruption, anti-theft measures
(the stealing of coffee beans is an art form in some communities)
- helping to establish coffee seedling programs - a GREAT source of income for co-ops and reforestation for Haiti
- providing access to equipment that facilitates production/saves money
- seed money & assistance for business start-ups - strong co-ops are ready to create new income-generating businesses
Examples of our Work:
Coffee Seedling Programs :
HALF of Haiti's 2% forested lands are coffee trees. A wide root structure makes them ideal to hold delicate mountain soil.
Coffee cherries are an added bonus: jobs and income for exceptionally poor people.
Farmer partners use the sale of coffee seeds to invest in their own seedling nurseries.
Coffee Seedling Nursery above Marigot : Joint Project funded by Singing Rooster, Solidarité-Haïti, and three local farmer cooperatives (using proceeds from the Rooster's coffee sales).
In 2013, this farmer group continues their redevelopment effort with in-kind support from the National Coffee Institute of Haiti.
Coffee Seedling Nursery above Marigot
Good source of income AND reforestation
59,000 seedlings so far... and counting
Singing Rooster is assisting multiple coffee farmer cooperatives above Marigot - high in the mountains.
Of all projects, this is our largest: equipment repair, improving coffee quality, training in small business management.
Our work in this area has been partially supported by BID -- Bank Inter-American of Development (Inter-American Bank of Development) and the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture's DEFI's program. Here is our grant contract.
2011 Singing Rooster provided a matching grant to repair and upgrade final processing facility.
2012 Singing Rooster provided a matching grant to establish coffee-cupping laboratory.
The Rooster repaired a coffee washing station & guides export-quality coffee production.
CRS + Singing Rooster = Help for Haiti
Catholic Relief Services' Mountains to Market is collaborating with the Rooster to help redevelop production in the Beaumont region of Haiti - a once thriving coffee sector.
We discuss issues, share resources, and help farmers to make long-term connections. We also export the coffee & create new markets for it -- an essential component.
Read more about our collaboration with CRS -->
Jeremie's Roosters, er Roasters
The Rooster's Molly Nicaise is assisting a group of women to launch a coffee roasting business in Jeremie for domestic markets.
Molly is helping to design their brand, label, and promotional materials.
The most significant thing we've done for this group was to find a group who'll pre-finance their 2012 harvest. Thanks St. Charles Borromeo Church in Arlington VA - this is an exciting collaboration for the Rooster!
The Rooster is helping a newly formed network and established coffee association launch a quality production program.
We've also assisted in revamping their logo, business cards & website (in progress).
These materials help them to communicate with potential, international coffee buyers.
Cavallion - Roasting Co. Startup
Coffee farming is a tough business. You're bound to the weather, market, and ethics of others.
Increasing the commercial capacities of producer groups is what drives us.
In that vein, we're helping a well-organize coffee cooperative, RECOCAS, to launch a coffee roasting start-up for the domestic market.
By helping to increase commercial capacities of producer groups, we're helping with long-term economic stability: co-ops can STOP getting high interest loans from banks by saving their own working capital.
RECOCAS spent months writing and then defending a business plan for a country-wide competition for entrepreneurs.
We couldn't be more thrilled - their MONTHS of hard work has paid off.
RECOCAS won a national competition & will receive seed money for their roasting company start-up.
They'll soon be selling small satchels of coffee on the domestic market ... and beyond?
What's next? We'll help them purchase equipment & assist with marketing.
Singing Rooster's assistance was minimal but provided essential help with their business plan (special attention to the financials) and with marketing, including assistance with developing a product label.
The president of the co-op feels that giving the panel of judges a physical product example, pushed their plan over the edge.
This is EXACTLY the type of assistance we love giving -- minimal guidance to ideas born by co-ops. Autonomy is a beautiful thing.
Equipment Upgrade Coaching &
Living in Haiti is difficult. Subsistence living requires daily gathering of water & food which leaves little time for other activities. That's where the Rooster comes in - we're able to efficiently research and coach farmers on equipment options, help with financing, import equipment and assist with maintenance.
- We help co-ops analyze their ROI by switching from mortar & pestle to mechanized hulling.
- One co-op in Grande Anse used a matching grant to repair a water cistern and storage building.
- Another co-op near Thiotte purchased a depulping machine. Another invested in a motorcycle to facilitate communication with 6 coffee washing centers during the harvest.
We're offering 3 matching grants with 3 farmer cooperatives that focus on:
- coffee seedling nurseries
- farmer training on quality production
- small business management training
We're incredibly thankful to the French organization, InterAide, for their invaluable work with coffee farmers in this area. By working together, we're helping the farmers to sell their coffee & strengthen their skills in agriculture and business management.
1st time this Farmer holds his own packaged Haitian coffee
His smile says it all ... love this guy!
Pine forests of Thiotte = awesome coffee
Hurricane Isaac (August 2012) ripped off the roof of a processing center in Thiotte region -- the Rooster helped with reconstruction in time for the 2012/2013 harvest.
|The Rooster has 2 Haitian agronomists who travel tirelessly across Haitian coffee sectors, including Thiotte.
Our agronomists guide farmer cooperatives in agricultural techniques like coffee field maintenance and preparation.
Two quality improvements we use across Haiti is training in the use of humidity meters & giant plastic liners:
Frito Merizier (center, white shirt, tan pants) was instrumental in advocating the importance of a national platform for coffee farmers.
Frito died from an asthma attack in April 2012.
We miss him greatly and will help his young children to remember how much he was loved and how hard he worked on behalf of his community.
The Rooster traveled to Port au Prince in August, 2012 to attend the latest forum where coffee farmers across Haiti are organizing a national platform:
Plate-Forme Nationale des Producteurs de Cafe d’ Haiti (PNPCH)
In August of 2012, farmers paid tribute to Frito by continuing what he began: organized farmers = voice.
We miss you Frito
-- We're continuing to work with the Wisconsin based Haiti Project to evaluate and assist in coffee redevelopment. One of the Rooster's agronomists visited this community in 2012 to define a plan for this coffee-potential producing community.