Cake, Coffee, and a Volcano
It was unusually dark in La Aurora Airport in Guatemala City, Guatemala. It was strange. There were few people to be seen. I asked the agent at the departure gate,
”Where is everyone?”
”Sir, all of the flights have been delayed due to Fuego Volcan erupting. It is very angry today.”
I thought to myself, why did you let me check in and go through security? But I bit my tongue.
”Any idea when we can fly again?”
”Well, we hope to have a flight come in, in a couple of days. We’re sweeping the runway right now.”
I walk over to the 20ft tall windows and look out. I see about 50 people with brooms — hand sweeping the 1,930,600 feet of runway.
I think to myself, this is going to take forever.
I had spent the last 5 days in Guatemala working with my friend, Luis — short, gentle man with a quiet confidence – the air of a man who knows what he’s doing. He runs the largest bakery chain in Guatemala — La Holandesa. Luis has worked with us for years in helping to build Agros villages and generationally change people’s lives throughout Guatemala.
A year ago I shared in detail our model of prosumerism — the Coffee Lovers Club. Luis loved it. We talked about sustainably changing peoples lives, not just writing a charity check. We talked about catalytic philanthropy and finding the one thing that can have a cascading effect in transforming people’s lives.
We talked about the many travails the people of Guatemala face. During our conversation Luis continued to come back to single mothers. So we agreed single mothers must be our catalyst of change.
But what is the catalyst of change in the single mother’s life? It quickly became obvious — childcare.
“I take care of single mothers whose husbands have left them. But what if I sponsor daycare through the Catholic Church so these single mothers can go to work and provide a future for their little ones?”
Luis could have written a check to help single mothers with things like food, clothing, and education, but he saw the power of prosumerism — evidenced by Camano Island Coffee Roaster’s Coffee Lovers. He had seen first hand the impact thousands of people pulling together around coffee could make in the lives of his fellow countrymen. So he decided to use prosumerism too.
“I’m going to take this prosumerism to Guatemala. We can only create lasting change with prosumerism.”
And so he did.
Luis talked with the local Catholic ran daycares. He offered to provide free childcare to single mothers. A portion of the sales from Holandesa bakeries would go back to these daycares to help cover the costs. In addition, Luis worked with his management team at Holandesa to provide as many jobs to single mothers as they could.
I told Luis, “This is incredible what you and your Holandesa prosumers have been able to do with the money they already spend on bread and cakes and pastries.
“Jeff, I saw this success from your Coffee Lovers. Their example has encouraged me.”
While eating a delicious slice of Chocolate wrap cake, Luis further explained to me what many of our Coffee Lovers already know. Simply writing a charity check isn’t enough. It’s just not sustainable. Creating a sustainable future is using funds from an everyday purchase to fund the solution to a problem. It’s providing the same service or goods but using part of the revenue to fix a problem.
With jobs and daycare these single mothers can now provide nutrition and education for themselves and their children. These are single mothers who are not part of an Agros village. These are the single mothers within the inner city. These are the single mothers who have no where else to turn.
We’ve seen with our Agros villages how using entrepreneurial principles can lead to generational change. Many of our villager’s children are now graduating from college. They’re becoming school teachers like Maria. They’re becoming doctors. They’re becoming entrepreneurs.
Jose was doing 120 kilometers an hour — hitting every pothole between Guatemala and El Salvador. For 6 hours we screamed through jungle, and bumped around on dirt roads until we arrived in San Salvador, the capital city of El Salvador. When we rejoined the realm of cell service I noticed I had a missed call. It was Luis.
“Luis how are you? We’ve made it to San Salvador.”
“Jeff, you have to see some of our bakeries in San Salvador before you leave. Ask Jose to take you.”
I’m thinking to myself all I want to do is get a shower and go to sleep before I hopefully catch my new flight in the morning, but Luis’s passion was infectious.
“OK Luis. Jose and I will check them out. Let’s see some more prosumerism.”
And off we went.
One part of this story I haven’t quite explained is why I visited Guatemala in the first place. The idea was for us to take some of our coffee and smoothie systems to Holandesa Bakery. With some streamlined operations, Luis and I believed we could increase revenue and by default share our Coffee Lover’s message of “Prosumerism As Sustainable Change” with more people. The work being done here in El Salvador is just a small piece of that.
As I was there visiting what must have been the 20th bakery and eating the 20th slice of Chocolate Wrap cake by this point in the trip, I thought what an incredible opportunity. Here we were, now in El Salvador, a country ravaged by civil war. And we have the opportunity to share the prosumerism of our coffee lovers.
Thanks to you it’s not just about coffee or even Agros. It’s about prosumerism being shared in war-torn regions — in the inner city — with single mothers who happen to serve up delicious cake and even tastier coffee.