You’d think working remotely is challenging, then read on, because what I’m sharing is a whole new level. Hi, I’m Sara, Marketing Manager at The Coffee Quest. Believe me, I have experience working remotely: I wrote a guide exactly one year ago – when the pandemic and lockdown kicked in – with tips for working from home.
Homeoffice is way different from setting up a campaign in a country on a continent you’ve never been to. You do not know the people, their culture and working methods, but you know that your work matters and you can make a great impact if you are doing it right. What I learnt is that with collaboration, joint effort and clear goals, setting up a project across borders and cultures is possible.
Setting up a Ugandan campaign from home
We are adding value to the World’s coffee chain and working with great people far far away in our origins. The latest social project that I’ll dive deep into, involves collaboration, transparency and a lot of planning as the campaign is taking place in Uganda, Africa.
What you’ll need: a base idea, collaborative team and good internet connection. In the first half of 2020, the whole The Coffee Quest team was experimenting with either working from home or working efficiently with those who are not in the office. Of course, we had difficulties but with time and collaboration, we overcame and improved in-house ideas and methods to make it easier for everyone.
In May 2020, Michiel reached out to me explaining his plans in Uganda and told me more about CarePlus’ project: The Buy One Give One Campaign. I got excited as working on projects that have such an impact are always motivational. Our partner, CarePlus’ has an ambitious goal for the campaign: To create a malaria-free world by 2030. To achieve this they collaborate with partners, such as Bambino Life Foundation, Twiga Ventures and us, The Coffee Quest.
We always aim to shape campaigns and projects to our style and company values. So we did the same for the Buy One Give One campaign and set up a goal for ourselves: Our goal is to protect 12 000 coffee farming families from 24 cooperatives.
You may wonder what connects coffee producers with malaria.
Each year, more than 400 000 people die of malaria – a preventable and treatable disease caused by mosquito bites. The international trade of exports including coffee, timber, cocoa, palm oil, and tobacco is driving 20% of the malaria risk in deforestation hot spots of the world, according to a study. Uganda has been fighting a battle to keep its rural population healthy and free from Malaria. Despite their efforts, we realized last year’s Robusta was of worse quality, so we started to ask around the farmers and find the reason behind it. The answers were the same, they had malaria and could not take care of their plantations because they were ill.
Our Uganda Robusta coffee is produced in the greater Luweero area, by the 12 000 farming families we’d like to protect. In this region, the infection rate is around 20%, and the percentage of people sleeping under a net is between 40-60%.
We had a clear goal, but how to achieve it?
We truly believe that collaboration accelerates and joint effort can make a bigger impact. We launched our Malaria-free World Campaign searching for passionate roasters who want to join and fight against malaria with us. The rules of joining the campaign are pretty simple: By ordering Uganda Robusta, with a minimum of €480 per contract, roasters donate €0,05 per kilo of that purchased green coffee, to the campaign.
This is a nice goal and a great way to motivate roasters to join, but how should we implement this net distribution? – I asked myself.
Luckily, the team from CarePlus and Tony Moguya from the Ugandan Coffee Farmers Alliance supported me on the way of organizing the distribution. We set the tasks and responsibilities. Tony helped us on the field, determining the areas where we’d start the distribution, reaching out to the farmers, cooperatives and creating a nice ambience.
As the day of the distribution was more than just handing over the nets. Each net distribution day was a day of malaria prevention: Included educational talks about malaria prevention, showcasing how to use the mosquito nets, dancing, singing and socializing.
CarePlus took care of the nets and the distribution. Our job was to make this day unforgettable and show the world what we are doing. For this, I looked for a company that would accompany Tony and visit the cooperative to create videos and take pictures of the event.
To make sure the distant company would deliver something we want, I had to create clear guidelines and measurable KPIs for them. How do you like the results?
Work with our roaster partners
We successfully distributed 900 nets in 2020, but our goal – to protect 12 000 families – is not completed yet, so we are continuing this project in 2021 as well. With the help of 4 roasters, who joined our 2nd distribution of 2020, we are raising awareness and inspiring everyone to join this campaign.
My goal was to show the roasters the impact we made together, to encourage them and support their businesses. In January, after making a plan for the next 6 months, I called each roaster to get to know more about their work: Why did they join the campaign? What did their clients say about them joining? Was there any feedback, success story?
As I know, roasters have a different focus in their day-to-day work, so I planned their tasks in advance, to give them time to deliver. This is something you should keep in mind when it comes to working with teams remotely or from different backgrounds.
In this collaboration, we highly count on each other’s support. We, The Coffee Quest, involved each of our roaster partners in the upcoming KoffieTCacao article about the campaign, giving them an opportunity to be presented in the magazine. Next to cross-promotion, I asked the roasters to create videos where they explain their experience with this campaign and the results on their businesses. I can’t wait to share these videos with you all. Keep an eye on our socials and for further information about the campaign, get in touch!
To sum up:
Working remotely and setting up projects from distance take time, patience and lots of discussions. Are you planning to set up a virtual origin trip from the origin? Virtual roasting or something else? Let me list some hands-on tips to help you:
- Set clear goals: each campaign should have a clear goal that takes the whole team on the same page.
- Determine the tasks and responsibilities
- Create clear guidelines and measurable KPIs for each task
- Plan way ahead and set deadlines
- Be ready to answer incoming questions right away, not to make dependencies
- It always helps to have someone on the field who can help with insider feedback and ideas.
Did this article help you imagine how we are creating these projects? Are you motivated to do something for yourself? Or with us together? Get in touch, I’m happy to help.