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A Good African Story: How a Small Company Built a Global Coffee Brand
by Andrew Rugasira
Random House, London, UK, 2013, 288 pp; hb $21
Andrew Rugasira, author of A Good African Story: How a Small Company Built a Global Coffee Brand, is best known in his native Uganda as a pioneer coffee entrepreneur. In this book, he tells the story of the success of his coffee company, Good African Coffee, after a very tough beginning, and also draws attention to Africa’s unequal trade with the rest of the world.
His interest in coffee was shaped by Uganda’s fame in the coffee export business. In the book, Mr. Rugasira writes, “Uganda produces over three million bags of coffee a year [approximately 200,000 tonnes] but most of this coffee is exported in its raw form – as green beans for processing in the consuming countries of the developed world. What no Ugandan coffee company had done before was to place a branded coffee product on supermarket shelves in South Africa and the UK.” This then became Mr. Rugasira’s ultimate challenge.
For eight years, he strived to establish and run a coffee company that would not only bring in profits through exports, but also benefit local farmers through profit-sharing.
On his catchphrase “trade not aid,” Mr. Rugasira writes, “I introduced programmes that would invest in the areas of coffee agronomy, support that would improve crop quality…productivity and economical stewardship…for the farmers.”
Living up to the challenge is what Mr. Rugasira clearly illustrates in his book. He demonstrates the many obstacles faced by an African-owned business, such as entering new markets as well as gaining credibility. He also takes the time to show how important it is to reward others in order to grow one’s business – it is a process that is indeed cyclical, contributing to better livelihoods for farmers as
well as to the expansion of the coffee company.
The 288-page book will serve as a great primer for budding entrepreneurs as well as those who want to better understand the logistics of global business.
— Pavithra Rao
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