The Ethiopian Fine Coffee (EFC) initiative is proof of the effectiveness of Position's method and process. The team behind Position and the NGO Light Years IP, designed and implemented this trademark and licensing initiative which transformed Ethiopia's Fine Coffee Export Sector.

 

COFFEE RETURNS INCREASED BY 100% 

 FARMER INCOME DOUBLED

 $101 MILLION ADDITIONAL EXPORT INCOME


Filmed as part of the NGO, Light Years IP


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Ethiopia grows some of the world's finest internationally acclaimed coffee brands, including Harar, Yigachefefe and Sidamo. But the high retail prices and demand for this superior coffee was not reaching Ethiopia. For example, Harar coffee sells for retail prices around $20.00 per/lb but the export price was just $1.00-$1.20 per/lb.

The terms of trade mean that the negotiating power of foreign importers vastly exceeds that of export sectors. There needed to be a systemic change to increase the negotiating power of the Ethiopian fine coffee export sector to get a share of the retail value.

 

 

Out of the estimated $2,000 million retail value that the fine coffees generated annually from consumers, just 5% was reaching the Ethiopian export sector.


ETHIOPIA TAKES CONTROL

With the help of Ron Layton of our team, the Ethiopian fine coffee sector took power as the owner of the trademarks for its popular coffee brands and an Ethiopian-controlled network of licensees.

This gave the Ethiopian export sector negotiating power. Greater negotiating power doubled annual fine coffee export income from $100 million in 2007 to over $201 million in 2008 and doubled producer and exporter income. 

Before

5% of retail value reaching reaching Ethiopian export sector

After

11% of retail value reaching the Ethiopian export sector

THE WIDER IMPACT

This increase in export income not only increased the income of Ethiopian coffee farmers, it created about $160-$200 million increase in rural economic activity, including:

  • An increase in the number of older children going to school for the first time 
  • Renewed roofing for housing 
  • Upgrades in rural health services through cooperatives
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TAKING ON BIG COFFEE... 

Starbucks initially opposed the registration of the trademarks by Ethiopia for its own fine coffee brands. The ensuing legal battle attracted global attention and widespread support for the Ethiopian government. With the help of Ron Layton (of our team) and his legal team, Ethiopia won the right to the trademarks of its coffee brands. The PR success against Starbucks has proven to be is a strong reputational benchmark with other corporations that wish to avoid litigation or PR battles, contributing to collaboration with Jaguar Land Rover over Maasai trademark rights.


Photography by Seth Doyle