Interviews

Meet the Change-maker Promoting Trade Over Aid in Africa

Debritu Mogesse Lusteau is founding partner of Moyee Coffee, the world's first FairChain coffee brand working towards a 50/50 rebalance of income between farmers and coffee companies.

Debritu Mogesse Lusteau is founding partner of Moyee Coffee, the world's first FairChain coffee brand working towards a 50/50 rebalance of income between farmers and coffee companies. Originally from Ethiopia, Debritu moved to the Netherlands 25 years ago and has since dedicated her career to promoting Ethiopia and its products - especially coffee.

Moyee's approach to coffee production ensures providing a competitive salary for farmers in the coffee’s country of origin; ensuring a just and humane standard of living. As Debritu states:

“We believe in trade over aid!”

By ensuring coffee is roasted in the country of origin, and not in the country where its exported increases the value enormously. In fact, by shifting the roasting and packaging back to Ethiopia, instead of exporting these value-adding activities to the West, Moyee is generating 300% more profit locally.

Debritu explains that today, even with an increase in overall demand and income for the coffee industry, local farmers still only get 15% of that, and actual revenue amounts to only two percent. To put this in perspective this means that for every cup of coffee you drink, local farmers who have developed that coffee over long periods of time, only get 2%. On the other side, the big coffee companies and suppliers in the west, sit on 98% of the revenue.


Through Moyee, Debritu is calling for big players in the coffee industry to provide a fair and living wage. But coffee is just the start. She says:

“Coffee is merely just another example of how African countries are exploited of their resources.”

She outlines that this has been a problem for resourceful African countries for years and calls for this to be acknowledged. Looking towards the future she poses some powerful questions:

“In 2020 when we say Africa is poor, we have to take a hard look in the mirror. How can this be so when we know commodities like cashew, cocoa, sesame, coffee, come from Africa?”

Today, only 0.6% of the coffee we drink in Europe is roasted in the country of origin. Debritu says: “If we can change this just to 5%, we are moving billions of euros into the countries that deserve it.”

Debritu wants to spread the FairChain philosophy to other brands and more countries.  She ends with an important call to action for the next generation of impact makers in the business:

“I think the world needs more fair people in the business. There are economic and trade rules that need to be revised.”

Even though Debritu speaks of injustice in  coffee trading today, she concludes on a hopeful note. To date, Moyee has made a positive impact on her home country. in Ethiopia:

“Moyee started in 2012. Nowadays in Ethiopia there are 4-5 other brands after Moyee. We inspired people. Hopefully tomorrow in Kenya, and we can inspire also inspire other sector to follow our route.”

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