Tembo Coffee Company was established in 2012 in Mbeya, Tanzania with the aim of replicating and expanding upon the business model built in 2009 by its sister company, Rwanda Trading Company.
To achieve shared value, Tembo focus on supply chain development. This involves finding solutions to problems that limit performance, creating opportunities for everyone involved to become more profitable. Tembo works directly with farmers to address issues that extend beyond the farm.
Tembo’s team purchased from 1500 producers in the Southern Highlands Region during their first season in 2013. Today Tembo works with over 12,500 producers, exporting 2.9 million pounds of green coffee annually. The company has developed exclusive relationships with 5 independent washing stations in the Mbeya Region of Tanzania’s Southern Highlands, and has achieved a 150% growth in export since 2013.
This rapid growth in exports has been, in part, down to Tembo’s Agribusiness Training Program, which was established in 2014. So far 8,000 farmers have enrolled, 53% of whom have been women. The two year farmer training program involves best agricultural practices, as well as business training – including agro-business, supply chain, coffee market knowledge and accounting – focusing on individual farmers to increase the impact and yield for smallholders. The farmers who have adopted the training program and implemented the teachings have seen significant results, and the intake of farmers to the program continues to increase.
For example, the Ukimwi Tuwezishane Farmer Group – a 130-strong network of farmers were early adopters of the program. Ukimwi Tuwezishane means “We stand together against AIDS”, in Swahili – the group is organised with the dual purpose of aggregating their coffee and supporting the battle against HIV/AIDS in their village. Since starting the program in 2012, the group have increased their yearly deliveries to Tembo from 8 tons to 24 tons. Significantly, the quality of the coffee the group has delivered has also improved dramatically, and now includes far more of the Tweega and Supreme grades, which fetch more price premiums when sold. Tembo and Ukimwi Tuwezishane continue to work together and explore ways of maximising the potential of their coffee crops.