When I see or purchase an imported product, I can't help but think about the country of origin and its people. Are its people better off? Are their lives being improved? But we know it is not always for the better. Natural resources and minerals from Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo) are examples of mixed results.
As an avid coffee and tea drinker, I always wanted to see Congolese coffee and tea in the marketplace. Reaching the marketplace, both internal and external, is a key to breaking the cycle of poverty in a country like the Congo.
The next time you visit Starbucks, ask for their new coffee from the Congo. Try it and think about the Congolese people, especially the women and children of Eastern Congo
BUKAVU, Democratic Republic of the Congo—Jeannine Balagizi is the mother of seven children, about average for a woman in South Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). She is also a passionate grower of high-quality Arabica coffee, less common in an area better known in recent decades for its armed conflict than its coffee fields.
Coffee, however, is gaining ground. On March 22, the American giant Starbucks (link is external) launched its first single-origin specialty coffee from South Kivu in 1,500 stores across North America and online. This coffee was grown and processed by Balagizi and 4,500 other small-scale farmers whose cooperatives are breathing new life into the DRC’s coffee sector with the help of a four-year project funded by USAID and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation (link is external).