Highlights from Graduation 2018

Highlights from Graduation 2018

September 18, 2018

September 1, 2018, was a true highlight in the journey of Bean Voyage. This was the day when we graduated our first official batch of Care Traders. In total, 47 smallholder women coffee producers have now participated in our training programs and benefited from increased knowledge on sustainable coffee production, community-based processing, roasting, cupping and business skills. Over the past four months, these producers dedicated each Saturday (and sometimes both Friday and Sundays) towards their personal growth as coffee entrepreneurs so they can eventually drive their communities towards a sustainable future. The training sessions included topics such as organic farming, community-based processing, roasting, cupping, and business skills.

However, this graduation wasn’t your traditional ceremony — it was an opportunity for our producers to showcase their learning with the rest of their community. During the first half of the day, producers were divided into different groups and then provided with an opportunity to showcase their knowledge in front of the community in the form of a presentation. The presentations were divided into five parts: vermicomposting and natural plant protection, budgeting and financial planning, roasting and cupping, plant diversification, and community building. The day-long graduation ceremony was attended by the community members, our trainers, and our supporters in Costa Rica.

 

We wanted to take this opportunity to share what went well, what was a bit challenging and new ideas for the future:

What went well:

  • Each of the farmers prepared well for the presentations and worked in groups to make it truly insightful. The presentations were so well presented that some of the trainers left astounded;
  • Their commitment to learning was quite obvious from the way they were answering questions from the audience and taking notes as a few members of the community were providing feedback;
  • We created a short video with a reflection from the entire training season and that was a massive hit — everyone loved seeing themselves on the big screen and hearing from the trainers and other team members who weren’t able to attend;
  • Logistics and time structure worked out well, although we started a few minutes behind schedule;

 

What could be better:

  • Due to an internal communication error, we started behind schedule which is always challenging especially as we had a few special guests who couldn’t stay with us longer;
  • The actual graduation process was quite messy as we hadn’t played the whole thing prior to the day-of so we weren’t sure who comes first, and how to organize the distribution of certificates;
  • As a team, we realized that we had to arrive at the location a day prior to graduation to make sure everything was organized;
  • We were expecting a larger turnout of family members as we wanted this graduation ceremony to be an opportunity for them to appreciate the women in their lives who have gone through an intensive training program for four months, and understand what this means for them. However, this was a good reminder for us that we need to conduct more outreach in these communities (especially with the male members) to encourage them to support our participants;

 

Ideas for future graduation:

  • Live streaming graduation on Facebook and Instagram. Quite a lot of people asked if they could watch the ceremony live, and with a reliable internet, we can definitely dedicate human resources towards a live streaming;
  • Host a run-through with all participants, so they feel a bit more relaxed on the day of — giving them pitch sessions so they can practice their presentations;
  • Make the environment special for them — create a unique environment during and post-event so they understand that this is a celebratory occasion for them;
  • Invite all trainers ahead of schedule so they can commit to attending the graduation;
  • Invite all donors: we only invited donors in Costa Rica because we realized that most international donors might not be willing to fly for the ceremony, but it is still worth the invitation, just in case they have travel plans to Costa Rica;
  • Rent a more grandiose space such as an auditorium with more facilities;
  • Send physical invitation cards to guests/family/community members;

Up next, we will establish business partnerships around the world to connect each of our graduating producers with buyers so they can generate 200% more income than fair trade minimums, and drive their communities towards a sustainable future. Our team is spread across the world to achieve this, and will be hosting a series of events at offices and coffee shops to share our work with consumers — from Berlin to New York, from Tokyo to London — we will be taking this voyage global!

In the meantime, we also hope to spend the next three months monitoring the progress of our training curriculum on each farm. We have been joined by Anna De Borst, and she will be conducting monitoring and evaluation to help us understand the results in the community and better prepare our model for scale and impact.

Finally, we would like to thank our supporters, donors, mentors, trainers, and teammates for their belief and constant support of our mission. Without you, we wouldn’t be where we are today — thank you!

And special thanks to the following organizations and donor for making this year’s training and graduation possible.

  • The Red Empress Foundation
  • Strachan Foundation
  • Western Union
  • Facebook
  • Nancy Glassman

Thank you for your support! If you would like to try the coffee of some of our recent graduates, go to our website and find your favorite coffee flavors!



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