What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?
Our most significant barriers include:
• Scaling work with partner farmers: Since our business model is about direct connections with small-scale farmers, the work of scaling these direct connections is crucial to our impact and requires a significant amount of innovation. Creating localized solutions that are human-centered necessitates unique strategies for “scaling up” to enable the incorporation of more farmers, products, and countries into our model. We cannot scale in a cookie-cutter way. Rather, we work to systematize the processes related to our Direct Trade and farmer-centered activities, such that as we scale, we can replicate these processes across countries and products. Because of this process rather than program-oriented approach, the particular manifestations of our work in different products and countries will look different in different communities.
• Ensuring Liga Masiva’s actions make a positive social impact: Working closely with farmers to define social impact is a democratic process. While incorporating multiple voices and defining social impact in a local context can be a challenge and could be considered a barrier, we consider this sort of problem to be exactly what Liga Masiva exists to address. Working together to define positive social impact helps us to ensure that our actions have beneficial consequences for the communities we work with.
• Creating an authentic connection between consumers and farmers: Liga Masiva’s objective to create a global farmers’ market with the richness of connection is central to our differentiation yet certainly not simple to execute organically. Therefore, the medium and content of this dialogue is in “perpetual beta” as we constantly measure and evolve the interaction based on responses by our consumers and partner farmers
Tell us about your partnerships
Liga Masiva would not be where we are today without the creative, passionate collaboration of many. Our partners include:
Roastmaster Coe Young brings passion, art, and science to Liga Masiva coffee. Coe is a “super taster” with a mind for the science and engineering behind the intricacies of small-batch roasting. The owner of L’aveggio Roasteria, in Binghamton, NY, Coe has been working with Liga Masiva from the beginning.
Farmer Socios in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic. Our farmer partners are the innovative, hard-working, “artists of the land” that grow every coffee bean we sell.
Sheltered Workshop for the Disabled are the people who put the final touch on every package that goes out. We are honored to work with SWS, a social enterprise that provides employment for the disabled, offering both on-the-job training and social services.
The Unreasonable Institute is the social enterprise incubator that selected Liga Masiva from among 700 social entrepreneurs worldwide for intensive mentoring, access to financing, and training. The Unreasonable community of fellows and mentors continues to be a powerful source of support and collaboration for Liga Masiva.
Other mission-driven companies, such as Runa, Blissmo, Mosaic Ventures, and many more are constant collaborators in sales and marketing, creating win-win joint ventures, and strategic planning.
Explain your selections
Liga Masiva’s operations are supported primarily through revenue from our consumers’ purchases of Liga Masiva products. Additionally, we have secured a small amount of capital from socially responsible investors, including several individuals, Presumed Abundance and First Light Capital.
How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?
Liga Masiva seeks to connect farmers in developing markets with consumers in the US. Our focus for the near term is on improving the richness of the experience for our consumers and farmers alike and stregthening the connection between the two.
Our primary mission of providing markets for smallholder farmers will be strengthened by expanding our customer base for our current and future products, allowing us to increase our number of partner farmers.
Growing our customer base takes a three-pronged approach:
1. Leveraging traditional and social media to meet new customers
2. Improvements in existing products, communications, and logistics for current customers to transform them into “fanatics”
3. New product additions to widen our reach and cement Liga Masiva’s brand
On the farmer-side, we will strengthen the capital and information our farmers access through Liga Masiva. Specifically, we are refining seminars on growing practices and one-on-one evaluations to provide tangible actions to increase quality.
Finally, we seek to enrich the interactions between our consumers and farmers to go beyond the current level of information sharing. Through improvements to our model, customers will become further engaged with our project, interested in more than the simple purchase of coffee. And for the first time, our farmers will see the end consumers of their products.