Ever wonder where Starbucks delicious coffee comes from? Some of Starbucks’ rare and exquisite coffee comes from Sidama, Ethiopia, where Ferro Cooperative’s gourmet coffee is known to be Starbucks eighth Black Apron Exclusive. Other Ethiopian cooperatives’ coffees were inspired by the Ferro Cooperative and have created their own coffee which received universal acclaim for its superb taste.

To improve sustainability, USAID funded, ACDI/VOCA, which implemented its five-year Agricultural Cooperative project in Ethiopia. “Without cooperatives Ethiopian growers would be out of the market,” said Asnake Bekele, general manager of the Sidama union. Cooperatives for some have been a great novelty, they benefit millions of people across the world and most of all create sustainability for communities.

Prior to USAID’s funding, small farmers were marginalized and had little access to credit to fund marketing activities. However, a local bank took interest in the cooperative and entered into a loan guarantee plan. USAID funds guaranteed half of the potential net losses* and the bank made more than a million dollars available to cooperative unions. This was a great milestone for many farmers because it allowed them to receive dividends that helped them restore their homes, pay for their children’s education and start new businesses.

As the farmers worked their way up from the bottom, they gained the necessary skills needed to step out on their own and manage sustainable cooperatives that bring profit and economic safety to their community. With USAID’s Cooperative Development Program many developing cooperatives continue to advance in various ways to create sustainable economies while building supportive communities.

*ACDI/VOCA Ethiopia