Decommoditizing coffee to boost smallholder farmer income

Wakuli sells fresh roasted, high quality “specialty” coffee direct-to-your mailbox. They shorten the value chain which results in a significant better price for the farmer and fresher coffee at mid market prices with impact for the consumerWakuli’s mission is to enable smallholder farmers to invest in their farms to move towards a living income and a more sustainable livelihood.

An estimated 12 million farms and 25 million families depend on coffee for their livelihood. Many smallholder farmers live in poverty, with ~25-50% earning (far) below a living income. Their quality coffee is mostly treated as commodity and relationships with buyers are transactional, which leaves them unable to invest in their farms to get to profitability and caught in a vicious cycle of underearning and underinvestment. Direct trade with smallholder farmers and their cooperatives offers a solution, but volumes have been too low as it has been confined to the niche super-premium segment of the market.

Wakuli buys green coffee beans directly from farmer associations and cooperatives, roasts the coffee in the Netherlands and distributes the roasted coffee to customers’ mailboxes. Thanks to this direct trade and direct-to-consumer model, the company is able to bypass unnecessary steps in the value chain and offer the freshest specialty quality coffee at below specialty prices: a high quality impact product at a mid-market price. The farmer receives a much higher (often 2x) price per kilogram than what they would otherwise receive. By entering long-term partnerships Wakuli enables these smallholder farmers to invest in their farms to move towards a living income and a more sustainable livelihood.

Founders Yorick & Lukas form a highly complementary leadership team with strong commercial and impact drive. Yorick spent several years working in coffee cooperatives in countries such as Tanzania and Nepal and is deeply passionate about coffee and improving the lives of smallholder farmers. Lukas is an expert in tweaking and constant experimentation towards the right business model to scale up.

Connecting farmers at scale

With our funding the company will continue to scale up in the Netherlands and expand to surrounding countries in 2021. With this investment we target to increase income at farmer level by at least 25% for thousands of smallholder farmers and their dependents.

“In Rubio we found a partner with the rare combination of strong commercial and strategic proficiency and a deeply held conviction that a social mission and top venture returns reinforce each other. Besides helping us define and measure our impact metrics, the Rubio team became a strategic sparring partner from day 1. They come with ideas and feedback, but never pressure to go one way or the other. Rubio is bringing an extensive network of experts and co-investors to the table making us all the more certain that we will reach our goal of connecting 1 million households and 50,000 farmers by 2025.” Lukas Grosfeld & Yorick Bruins, founders of Wakuli

To learn more about Wakuli and become a customer click here

Impact Theme

  • People Power

SDG Alignment

  • #1 No poverty