Highlight from Tommy and Arthur Bassett's recent trip to Guatemala
Help was needed to follow up on the host communication strategy proposed last year in Guatemala as part of Farmer-to Farmer (F2F) Rural Enterprise Development program. One of these host organization, FECCEG (Federacion Commercializadora de Café Especial de Guatemala), was looking to strengthen current relationships and improve their methods of connecting with buyers and customers in the United States in order to increase sales and promote their coffee in new markets.
|F2F Luncheon: Top left to top right (Arthur Bassett, Blake Scott, Tommy Bassett, Andrea Fión)|
FECCEG is a federation of 13 small coffee cooperatives, encompassed by 2,136 small-holder farmers, including 562 women producers. By working across six departments in Guatemala, the federation helps scale local coffee value chains. FECCEG supports small producers with a wide array of integrated technical assistance, including organic certification, the adoption of agro-ecological practices, the preparation of products for export, and the development of new market linkages. As a member of Kishe Foods LLC, a company legally established in Los Angeles California, FECCEG and other members are now selling organic roasted coffee and honey as a finished product directly to consumers in the United States.
Traditionally, producer organizations like FECCEG have sold green coffee beans to exporters as a raw material. Through this exchange, most of the value and profits generated have remained with intermediaries and final sellers. The goal of the assignment was to bring some of that value back to FECCEG producers by improving and establishing direct relationships with U.S buyers willing to purchase their packaged roasted coffee.
In order to scale their presence outside of Guatemala, FECCEG was actively looking for marketing specialists to help them understand how the specialty coffee market operates in the United States. In addition, the federation was also looking to expand their working knowledge on U.S consumer preferences and coffee distribution systems (distributors, buyers, brokers) and how to best optimize them for marketing and selling their products.
When Arthur and Tommy Bossereturned returned to Guatemala in January 2017 they were pleasantly surprised to see that most of the recommendations made from their March 2016 visit were implemented. During their latest visit, the father and son duo traveled to Quetzaltenango, where they helped local staff identify and analyze information about the U.S specialty coffee market. Moreover, they also trained local staff on developing and implementing strategies for increasing sales at the federation’s Quetzaltenango coffee shop. Arthur and Tommy also had the chance to meet with representatives from Heifer in Antigua, where they were able to discuss potential business opportunities.
Bessets' diagram of how to improve strategic relationships in the US-Guatemala coffee value chain
Through these engagements, Arthur and Tommy developed almost 100 recommendations broken down into 12 categories. First, they helped FECCEG generate a comprehensive calendar for tracking sales and strategic events. They also assisted with the editing of a business post card for FECCEG, generated organizational diagram for KISHE US, and created job descriptions for the hiring of new staff and interns. Moreover, the pair also worked alongside staff and graphic designers to develop a sound social media campaign. They were also instrumental in reorganize the layout of the Quetzaltengo coffee shop to optimize space and make it more welcoming for customers.
Partners of the Americas is committed to establishing lasting people-to-people connection between U.S volunteers and host organization throughout the hemisphere. As such, we are very glad to have the Bassetts' continued support in another Guatemala assignment. Overall, Arthur and Tommy reported that our local team provided excellent logistical support and clear information about the assignment objectives. The also provide positive feedback and suggestions for how to improve our program even further.