What if your coffee made a difference for a national park’s people, wildlife, and rainforest? That’s exactly what Gorongosa Coffee has achieved in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique. Read on for their unique story, told by Neila, the Park’s Manager for Agricultural Livelihoods.
Replanting a Rainforest
Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique was faced with a unique challenge in 2015. The communities that had called it home for hundreds of years were growing in size and struggling to survive. Their only source of income came from the potatoes and maize they grew on Mount Gorongosa. Mount Gorongosa was likely the largest continuous Afromontane forest in southern Africa, but increasingly, it’s rainforest was being cut and cleared for planting. Farmers like Vaida (pictured below) needed food to put on their table and desperately wanted to put their children through school. This was their only option.
But, what if the farmers could grow a crop that simultaneously rebuilt the rainforest? Pedro Muagura, the Park Warden, had an idea. He brought in a few coffee bushes from Zimbabwe to the Park and worked with local farmers to plant them alongside native hardwood saplings. The goal: To restore the rainforest and provide sustainable livelihoods so Gorongosa’s people could become its guardians — not its enemies.
As it turns out, the coffee rainforests didn’t just survive, they flourished. Five years later, Gorongosa Coffee has planted over 500,000 coffee bushes among over 100,000 native rainforest trees, supporting the livelihoods over more than 400 local farmers. We also have our first bumper crop of Gorongosa Green, the first premium coffee ever to be exported from Mozambique.
Empowering a Community
Why stop there? What if we told the story of Gorongosa to the world? Not just the story of coffee and the rainforest, but also of the ten-fold increase in wildlife and the hundreds of young women who were now receiving a high school education?
In 2019, Gorongosa National Park created Gorongosa Coffee, a for-profit entity whose sole shareholder is the conservation trust that funds the park. Through this hybrid for-profit/non-profit model, 100% of profits go directly back into the Park to support human development, wildlife conservation, and rainforest reforestation. Pretty cool, right? Our 10-year goal is to be the majority funder of Gorongosa National Park, using business as a sustainable finance mechanism for conservation and human development. We are now roasting in Boise, Idaho and have launched online sales with dreams of being in offices and on supermarket shelves across North America.
Girls Run The World
Rainforest coffee is just one example of Gorongosa’s unique approach to conservation. Gorongosa National Park’s restoration was conceived in the early 2000s by Nelson Mandela and then President of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano. It was to be a people’s park — one that invests in the education, health, and livelihoods of its people so nature can thrive along with local populations.
As Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Our medium roast coffee, Girls Run the World, honors education and — more importantly — girls education. In Gorongosa and other Mozambican communities, this fundamental human right has been closed to young women who get married and begin families at a young age.
When you educate a girl, you not only get the biggest jump in the socioeconomic status of a community, but also the best chance for long-term success in nature conservation. Because when a girl gets a high school education, her chances of becoming pregnant in her youth drop drastically and her chances of employment skyrocket.
100% of the profits of our Girls Run the World directly support educational opportunities for young women in Gorongosa. These profits help build schools, improve resources, provide after-school programming, award high school scholarships, and more.
But, it only works if you become part of our story. By sporting our MiiR Girls Run the World Travel Tumblers filled to the brim with our medium roast coffee, you show the world how important it is to empower girls to take agency over their own futures. You help us make a difference.
Let’s do this!
Learn more about Goronogosa Coffee by heading to their website! Photos are courtesy of Piotr Nasrecki and Gorongosa Coffee.