From Coffee Farmers to Your Mailbox

Wakuli

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 10. Reduced Inequalities 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 17. Partnerships for the Goals

Overview

Wakuli is an on-demand, fresh coffee supplier that delivers directly from the farmers to the subscriber’s mailbox. They share the profits from each cup of coffee with the farmers - everyone’s a winner! Yorick Bruins, a co-founder of Wakuli, has identified the problem of limited access to good coffee in the Netherlands. Unless you live in the busy city centers of Amsterdam, Utrecht, or the like, it is not easy to find good coffee. Looking at the online shops, high-quality coffee retailers charge high prices plus shipping costs, and coffee at supermarkets is just not good enough for the coffee addicts. Bruins wanted to do it differently. He had one question: How can we make quality coffee affordable, accessible, and still create impact?

Authors

Marahemy Alcantara

Marahemy Alcantara

AYCAN TEKIN

AYCAN TEKIN

School

TIAS School for Business and Society

TIAS School for Business and Society

Professor

Mirjam Minderman

Mirjam Minderman

Innovation

The innovation of Wakuli lies in the supply chain. The network Bruins built over the years of his career helped him define the steps in this unique model. He lived in Tanzania but worked throughout Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and more. Over the years, he met many young and inspiring coffee farmers who didn’t want to be just farmers but had a wider view of the world. “They didn’t want to just farm to survive”, Bruins said. People who are essential parts of the value chain such as transportation, legal work, and quality control, were all from this network of inspiring people he built back then.

How is the coffee delivered then? The only thing a customer has to do is go to the Wakuli website and pick the frequency of subscription delivery. This subscription model allows them to plan ahead and also lower the margins, as Bruins states. With this model, they can estimate the average number of customers that love their product who are likely to come back. The convenience of a package that fits the standard mailbox makes it easy for customers who cannot wait for their next coffee delivery.

Another way to lower costs is of course, that they do not pay the middle man along the value chain. Not a single cent is being paid to traders, importers, exporters, or retailers. They only pay the people they need to make sure that quality coffee is delivered.

From Coffee Farmers to Your Mailbox

Inspiration

Bruins says the idea was born in 2016 when he was living in southwest Tanzania, close to the border with Malawi and Mozambique. He was a business advisor at an NGO, producing high-quality coffee. It was just before the coffee price crisis but coffee was still a tough market for the locals. The farmers complained that contrary to the rapidly growing demand for coffee, they got paid less every year. Many farmers quit cultivating coffee and started growing mazes instead. There was a moment when Bruins said, “No, I don’t want this to happen”. He wanted to do it better. The farmers produced a high-quality product that they would never be able to grow again if the coffee trees were replaced by corn mazes. “We needed to create better markets for coffee”, he said.

Overall impact

Wakuli was born out of the founders’ desire to change what is visibly wrong with the coffee industry worldwide, specifically specialty coffee. With years of experience in the field and the right network, they were able to change the whole value chain, creating a positive impact for the farmers, their customers, and consequently, the market.

Wakuli, with its mailbox friendly packaging and attractive, hassle-free subscription model, gives the customers the opportunity of drinking affordable high-quality coffee in the comfort of their homes. However, most of all, the major impact they have made, is improving the livelihood of coffee farmers around the world, whom before Wakuli, were victims of the outdated trading practices in the coffee industry.

Wakuli is continuously tackling the following UN SDG goals:

GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality

GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

GOAL 17: Partnerships to Achieve the Goal

Business benefit

They created a profitable business while embracing equality for a sector that has been neglected for hundreds of years, by modifying parts of the value chain and only keeping the key partners they needed.

As we have stated before, the main component of their business is the subscription model which allows them to plan, and also to have lower margins, as Bruins told us. This has helped them grow as planned while focusing on their company goals, which are mainly, to continue to lead under the values that ignited and inspired them to create the company, justice, and equality, as well as, scaling according to their projections.

They already have 4000 customers which means that they accomplished their short-term goal.

Their next steps are to start offering compostable pods, to reach to a broader market, and also to expand beyond the Netherlands. “It's very ambitious, but I think you need to be a bit ambitious to push yourself and your team, for 1 million households by the end of 2025”, Bruins said.

Social and environmental benefit

The inspiration behind this idea was reaching equality and it is still what keeps the company moving forward.

They have changed the lives of the coffee farmers they work with while improving the coffee experience for their customers at an affordable price. The customers know the origin of their coffee and at the same time, the farmers get paid more.

They choose to work with people that share their values, “People who really just believe, the equality in the coffee supply chain makes us thrive in the future”, and this is the reason Wakuli, is succeeding financially and accomplishing their goals while creating a positive impact in the world.

Concerning the Environmental Benefit there are two major issues Wakuli addresses. First, by cutting transport means and traders out of the supply chain, there is a smaller carbon footprint. Second, as we mentioned before, the farmers were cutting down coffee trees, which take a long time to grow, to plant mazes. By avoiding this practice, Wakuli helps to avoid the imminent coffee shortage.

Interview

Yorick Bruins, Co-founder

Photo of interviewee

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Wakuli

Wakuli

Amsterdam, North Holland, NL

Business Website: https://www.wakuli.com

Year Founded: 2018

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

Wakuli is an on-demand fresh coffee supplier. It brings freshly roasted specialty coffee from all over the world, directly from the farmer to your letterbox as often as you want.

Quality, social impact, convenience, and affordability are key to Wakuli.