As trade has become international, probably the furthest we’ve been from trading chickens for homespun wool, the real value of products has become harder to understand. We believe that the story behind each product is once again becoming valuable and sought after — the story of people, and the story of humanity. This alone tells us that we need community-based businesses in our lives. 

What is a co-operative?

Co-operatives, put simply, are community-based business models that hold people at the core of its operation. When the business thrives, the community thrives and vice-versa. With their democratic structure, co-operatives hold the social aspects of their businesses at a great value while also looking to create environmental and economic stability and sustainability within their communities.  

In 1992, the United Nations announced the first weekend of July to be the International Day of Co-operatives; a day to celebrate the social, economic and environmental problems overcome by co-operative groups. This day was chosen in order to align with the International Co-operative Alliance day (founded in 1895) which has been celebrated since 1923. (1)

Montville Coffee Community

Visiting fairtrade organic coffee co-operatives 

As a small business ourselves, we know the difference that strong community building can make; from supporting other small businesses to attending town meetings that address the issues and concerns of the whole community. Our trip to Sumatra with Fairtrade in 2016 also gave us the ability to witness the life-changing effects of co-operatives. Using the *Fairtrade Premium, this community in the highlands of the Gayo region were able to invest in education for their youth. In the first instance, it was used to teach traditional arts to the youth in the community. The arts were a key expression of the community's identity; sharing and continuing that identity with the younger generation was of great importance. 

Teguh and Kiki were two young men, whom the community used their Fairtrade premium to invest in their university education. With this opportunity,  Kiki went on to study Economics in Medan, and Teguh to study Science and Marketing in Sydney, Australia. Teguh had also started to work in the co-operative’s Sydney based export business: “The Sumatra Coffee House”. This chance for higher-level education has in-turn benefited the community, with both young people working and learning how to connect and add value to the supply chain and how to connect the coffee-growing co-operative they are from to the roasters, traders and consumers across the globe. 

Community at origin

Celebrate Fairtrade in Sumatra with our single-origin Sumatra Gayo Premium Coffee

Why support co-operatives?

In supporting cooperatives, we are seeing the decrease in poverty through the fair distribution of wealth and the unification of people through core values. Though cooperatives are a community-centered model, they have a global mindset that hopes to see the global society thrive by developing a similar system. We are constantly endeavouring to maintain a strong connection to our local community as well as the communities that we support at Origin. 

(1) UN Official Resolution Role of Co-opertives
(2) Who is AICA Americas Co-op 
(3) What is *Fairtrade Premium

More from Montville Coffee: Check out our Fairtrade Trip to Origin in Papua New Guinea

August 24, 2018 — Eva Smith