Going The Extra Mile: How DP World’s DUBUY.com is Boosting Coffee Exports from Rwanda
Going The Extra Mile:
How DP World’s DUBUY.com is Boosting Coffee Exports from Rwanda
Feature Article by Mike Bhaskaran, Group Chief Operating Officer, Digital Technology for DP World
DP World’s e-commerce platform DUBUY.com played an instrumental role in enabling local coffee farmers in Rwanda to export their coffee beans around the world, by providing them with simple, yet effective solutions to their packaging issues.
Supporting local communities
Since starting the operation back in 2000, with 300 coffee farmers, Dukundekawa coffee, part of Africa’s Fine Coffee Association, has now grown to a 1,900-strong farming community. Starting from scratch with a minimal amount of land, the community now grows its beans across 400 hectares, as the farmers take care of the crop to ensure the finest beans of the highest quality are produced.
As a staple of the community, Dunkundekawa now owns a dry mill and three wet mills (Ruli, Mbilma and Nkara) and the local farmers take immense pride in creating the perfect cup of coffee, from farm to table.
Grown at altitudes of 1,800 – 2,200 metres above sea level, the coffee beans themselves are unique and distinct. Extremely flavoursome with bold undertones, the coffee is described as exceptionally lively, with subtle, flora tones that lead into fruit notes of grapefruit and stewed apples. As an after-taste, the coffee even has a hint of vanilla and cinnamon. Indeed, it is these innovative pairings that have seen the company recognised for several awards.
Whilst the coffee beans have become well-known in Rwanda and have been enjoyed by many, the coffee farmers, wanted to take their coffee beans to the next level. Fuelled by their previous successes, the farmers wanted to export the beans outside of Rwanda, so that coffee-lovers around the world could enjoy a delicious cup.
But there existed a seemingly unsolvable problem. The farmers of Dukundekawa coffee, were struggling to export their coffee beans out of Rwanda. What they faced was that by the time the coffee beans had reached their destination, their quality had deteriorated and this meant they could not be used or sold on.
There was nothing wrong with the coffee beans themselves or the way they were being shipped. The issue lay in the packaging being used. Because it was not air-tight, the coffee beans were disintegrating during the journey, which meant they were ending up at their final destination in poor condition.
The local farmers needed to find a way to transport their coffee beans in packaging that ensured their quality – keeping the beans fresh, air-tight, and at the optimal temperature to ensure the coffee would arrive in the best condition for consumption.
It’s all in the packaging
The solution to their problems was perhaps closer than the farmers had first thought. Dunkundekawa Coffee was featured on DP World’s global wholesale e-commerce platform, DUBUY.com. After hearing of the issues the farmers were facing, DP World recognised they could support in helping to find a solution to the local farmers’ packaging issues.
After discussing the problem with several different companies to source sustainable packaging that would be fit for the task, they identified Swiss Pac, a leading manufacturer of sustainable packaging based in the United Arab Emirates. DP World wanted to show the local coffee community in Rwanda that they can go the extra mile – supporting their growth journey through technology and innovative ways of working.
When DUBUY.com approached Swiss Pac with the idea of creating customised packaging to support the coffee farmers, they were very receptive to the idea. This initiative was a first for all involved, with the UAE packaging firm never having worked with buyers in Rwanda before. Through the connection made by DP World, both parties were able to communicate, cooperate and create a customised product to help solve a specific issue.
Supporting trade flow
After going through a number of different options in packaging and trialling many different types, the local farmers placed an order of the customised coffee bags with Swiss Pac via DUBUY.com. Once they went through rigorous testing, they decided on a design. After discussions over the look and feel of the branding they landed on the name Dukundekawa Cooperative and then coffee were born; they were ready to go to market.
Once this had taken place, the same SKU was then put back on DUBUY.com; so the process went full circle, with the local farmers starting as buyers on the platform, now also becoming sellers of the finished product. This was a major milestone moment for the local coffee farmers to celebrate; now the opportunities for their coffee, which until this point were restricted to only being consumed in Rwanda, were infinite. This meant that they could trade their coffee beans around the world with ease, thanks to the support of DP World and its e-commerce platform DUBUY.com.
Accelerating trade via technology
One of the reasons for its success, was that the team at DUBUY.com were able to quickly and simply provide visibility of the coffee, via its ‘online shop’ and via its market accessibility. The rebrand also helped just as much as the packaging itself – it meant that the refreshed brand was appealing to an international market, which ultimately helped the coffee beans to stand out on the global stage.
Through DP World’s DUBUY.com platform, the Dukundekawa Cooperative, has been able to expand its operation and sell its coffee internationally, supporting the livelihoods of over a thousand farmers who work on the land.
From farm to cup
The whole process took a few months to complete; from building the trust with the local farmers to finding and helping deliver a solution that supported the local community to grow the business overseas. Whilst this was a fairly short process, the impact and the level of difference it has made to the Dukundekawa coffee community has been phenomenal. It has helped to transform the lives of this community and those who depend on it to grow and thrive.
We have helped take an excellent business operation, and enable them to realise their ambitions on a global level. It is humbling to help create a business practice that is both flourishing and sustainable for years to come – now the Dukundekawa Cooperative is trading, and they have a solid solution in place for their packaging – the sky really is the limit when it comes to their expansion.
A final thought
This DP World partnership with Swiss Pac and the Rwandan coffee farmers exemplifies the significance of technology, innovation, and collaboration in supporting local communities across the globe. More importantly, it addresses how we can help build sustainable communities, providing support and growth for local businesses to scale through our own network and offerings as a global logistics provider.
DP World’s DUBUY.com enabled Rwandan farmers to connect with Swiss Pac and acquire packaging that would keep their coffee beans fresh during transportation. In addition, the rebranding opened up further doors, and importantly ensured the coffee was appealing, attractive and visible on the platform. The success of this partnership displays how businesses big and small can create a positive impact beyond profits by addressing social and environmental issues while generating economic value.
Companies like DP World have the ability and responsibility to support sustainable and ethical practices that go beyond their core business objectives. We hope that this initiative inspires business executives to think past the commercials and to seek new and innovative ways to make a positive impact on the world.
About the Author
Mike Bhaskaran is the Group Chief Operating Officer, Digital Technology for DP World. He is responsible for driving the digital transformation of all parts of our value chain globally and operates all aspects of our technology presence, driving global business process improvement and systems implementation.
Mike has valuable experience in Blockchain, e-commerce technology, and driving innovative digital capabilities in complex supply chains at scale. Mike started his career within Engineering before moving into Distribution Operations and Supply Chain at Dell Computer Corporation. Prior to joining DP World, Mike was the Chief Supply Chain Officer at Staples Inc.
Before that he worked various other global organizations including Amazon, The Gap Inc, Starbucks Corporation and Beyond the Rack Inc, where he was responsible for all technology infrastructure and software development efforts.
Mike has a Masters in Industrial Technology & Engineering from Utah State University in the US and an MBA from Krannert Graduate School of Management at Purdue University in the USA.