Ayidefer is the founder of a farmer representation company and he introduced our sourcing partner – Nordic Approach – to Almaz Sahille. Ayidefer was born in Yirgacheffe, or more precisely Adado, close to Dilla, but he moved to Addis as a child and started studying accounting in 2003. Right after graduation in 2006, he joined the Yirgacheffe coop union and worked as an export assistant, then certification officer, export manager and finally traceability system coordinator, geotagging coffee for the ECX. Accounting wasn’t what he wanted to do in life, rather he wanted to start his own company and be able to impact the lives of farmers directly, so he studied an MBA, focusing on development management. When he graduated in 2017, he founded his own company to give smallholder farmers direct access to roasters and importers. He started with ten smallholder farmers and four washing stations with vertical linkage, meaning the station sell parchment directly to him, and he exports directly to buyers.
During one of the meetings with Nordic Approach, he was asked the question, why coffee?
“My family is from Yirgacheffe. Coffee is one of the only commercial crops that we can work with for livelihood and trading. The value chain is large and there are many opportunities, sometimes bad and sometimes good. When I first tasted coffee from the coop that created Yirgacheffe union, I was blown away. It was so different from what I had tasted before. I knew that I wanted to pursue this quality, but also understand where these coffee profiles came from. The more I worked with export and certification, the more I understood that the reason I didn’t know was because the coffee lost its traceability along the way. It has been a personal pursuit of mine ever since.
After traveling to Kenya and witnessing the farming practices, I started to understand that we had something special. Coffee grows naturally in Ethiopia, there’s no use of synthetic fertilizers and disease controlling agents. Until a few years ago, soil did not need much attention, the climate was perfect for cherry development, and yields were good. In recent years, we have noticed that we need to pay more attention. Water is either scarce or too abundant, temperature too cold or too warm, harvest early or late, short or long… Farmers have had to reforest their area to protect their coffee and get better quality.
There is still one problem. Farmers have been given more freedom of export, but do not know how to or what to do with it. They are not able to reach the importers or roasters on their own. Most are still selling their coffee at fixed prices to washing stations and being depersonalized or devalued by being blended into larger lots.”
“My goal is to bring those farmers forward and create a healthy business for all,” he said. ”If I manage to get a deal, I feel like I am helping my country as well as the farmers that produced the coffee.”
“Improving the farmers living standard has always given me strength.”