Mokha Origin

Mokha Origin

YemenBoston, United States
Year Founded:
2014
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Mokha Origin seeks to create stability and growth in Yemen by developing the country's coffee sector. The company achieves this goal through two avenues: selling authentic Yemeni coffee to U.S. consumers and promoting best practices through our patented bean-protein tracing technology.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if a coffee company could restore the historic Yemeni coffee sector, promoting growth and stability throughout the country?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Ten years ago, USAID began an initiative to improve the quality of coffee in Taiz, Yemen. Despite early success with the initiative, when funding ran out, the farmers soon abandoned the project because they lacked a market incentive. There was no price premium for the increase in quality. As a result of the lack of demand and inconsistent yields and quality, the once world-famous Yemeni coffee sector now remains poor and under-developed.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Mokha Origin, based at the Harvard Innovation Lab, has a novel market-based approach to resolving the problem faced by USAID in Yemen. First, we are promoting a national brand of Yemeni coffee in the United States, marketing the product's unique history as the World's First Coffee. Second, using patent-pending technology, we are identifying the farmers growing the highest quality, highest yield coffee beans. By paying farmers a premium of 20% above per-capita income levels, we are incentivizing the continued adoption of successful agricultural technologies and best practices. Lastly, Mokha Origin is committed to returning 10% of our profits to next-generation innovators in Yemen to further spur development of the sector.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Shahid is a Yemeni coffee farmer in the Raymah Governorate who is considering participating in a water management program run by the French NGO ACTED. Shahid worries that he will not be able to recoup the cost of his investment. Thanks to Mokha Origin's tracing technology, we know that farmers in this program - in this case farmers adopting drip irrigation technology - produce significantly higher yields as well as better quality coffee. Importantly, with our technology, we can now quantify this improvement. Mokha Origin can approach Shahid and offer a significant price premium if he participates in the program. Because Shahid's coffee is now sustainable, Mokha Origin can market it as such to premium U.S. consumers.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Mokha Origin is directly supporting stability in Yemen through two mechanisms. First, by encouraging economic growth and job opportunity in a labor-intensive industry, we are targeting Yemen's unemployed males. This demographic,which comprises 60% of young men in Yemen, is most likely to participate in civil disturbance. Second, by directly incentivizing farmers like Shahid to adopt best practices, we are encouraging a more rational and sustainable development of the coffee sector. Mokha Origin hopes to sell 20,000 lbs of Yemeni coffee within 12 months. This quantity of coffee corresponds to the average annual gross coffee production of approximately 80 Yemeni farms. In addition, Mokha Origin hopes to trace 40 million lbs of coffee by the end of 2016, providing thousands of farmers a tool to assess and increase coffee quality and yields.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

According to historical records the world's first coffee was produced in Yemen in 1450 by Sufi monks. Coffee exported from the port of Al-Mokha soon gained worldwide prominence. Mokha Origin's long term goal is to make this historic sector prominent once again. By promoting Yemeni coffee, we will spur competitors, including major coffee retailers, to double the quantity of coffee imported to the United States within two years. By incentivizing high value/high yield coffee, the sector as a whole should double within ten years, leading to a significant drop in unemployment among young males.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Mokha Origin is a for-profit business. We currently sell coffee at a 40% profit margin through online sales and in small-scale retail venues. In the next two months, Mokha Origin will launch a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising $100,000 and increasing brand awareness. Our goal is to sell 20,000 lbs of coffee within twelve months, producing a net profit of $150K to $200K.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There is only one other company that exclusively markets Yemeni coffee in the United States, Kinsip based out of California. To our knowledge, we are the only company to tie a national branding effort of Yemeni coffee with efforts to incentivize the improved consistency of Yemeni coffee beans. The technology that Mokha Origin is using to trace our beans has not yet been widely adopted by coffee companies. Cafe de Colombia reportedly has used a similar approach to verify coffee origin. Shabbir al Ezzy, a Yemeni exporter, is addressing similar supply issues through coffee cooperatives.
Team

Founding Story

Anda Greeney and Edward Kenney, college friends from Wesleyan University, were in Afghanistan in 2011 investigating the role NGOs were playing in the conflict against the Taliban. They both soon concluded that development efforts were unsustainable and potentially destabilizing. Anda believed that a free-market-oriented approach that ties producers directly to U.S. markets would work better. Now, he just had to find the right product to test his theory. When Anda learned that Yemen was the world's first producer of coffee, he knew he had found his product. Anda quickly recruited a team from Harvard University, including Sadie McQuilkin, whose design experience played a crucial role in developing our brand identity.

Team

Anda Greeney is the company's CEO. He is an entrepreneur, former lieutenant in the USAF and a Master's student at Harvard Extension School. Edward Kenney is Director of Technical Verification. Previously he served as an Associate in the Obama White House, working in the office of Presidential Personnel. Sadie McQuilkin is Director of Branding. A student at Harvard College, Sadie co-directs the International Women in Business Summit.
About You
About You
First Name

Edward

Last Name

Kenney

About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Project
Organization Country

, MA, Boston

Country where this project is creating social impact
What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Customers, Other.

Supplemental
Sector

Improving Nutrition, Water Use, Sustainable Sourcing, Smallholder Farmers.

Audience: Who have you identified as your customer/recipient groups and do these groups value your solution for different reasons? How do you engage different customer/recipient groups to deliver your solution?

Mokha Origin connects impoverished Yemeni farmers with U.S. consumers.

For U.S. consumers, Mokha Origin provides a historic beverage, "The World's First Coffee," as well as a service, Mokha Trace, that provides consumers with verified geographic information and a taste profile for their coffee.

For Yemeni farmers/NGOs in the coffee sector, Mokha Origin delivers a tool to incentivize best practices by identifying where the highest quality, highest yield coffee is produced.

Scaling the solution: How would the prize money and publicity help you to achieve your objectives over the next two years?

Mokha Origin hopes to expand rapidly over the next two years. Within a year we hope to sell 20,000 lbs of Yemeni coffee in the United States. Within two years we hope to be able to accurately trace 40 million lbs of coffee using our Mokha Trace tool. The funding from the Changemakers competition will go towards purchasing green coffee as well as developing a comprehensive database of Yemeni coffee.

Experience: Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered

Edward Kenney previously served as an Associate in the Obama White House, working in the Office of Presidential Personnel. He owns two companies in Washington, DC: Kenney & Kenney Properties and Kenney Real Estate.

Anda Greeney was a military officer and ran training events for the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response. His contributions saved the Air Force over $400,000, which led to an offer to manage the entire SARP office.

Are you are eligible to attend the Accelerator event in Cambridge and subsequent events in London, UK in January, 2015?

yes

Will you require a visa to enter the UK?

Are you are a current Unilever employee?