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Neumann Foundation




















Since the Neumann Foundation is based in Hamburg, where I lived for a year, they invited me to spend a few weeks with them and learn more about their projects. I asked to be especially involved with the Youth Project going on in Brazil right now and there I was getting in touch with the people at the Brazilian office and helping them write the Project Proposal.


I am particularly interested in Youth Development projects because growing up in a Coffee Producing Region I could see the challenges faced by young people and how there is the potential to align the industry and coffee education but it is not often explored, it is necessary to show the new generations the various paths one can have in the coffee market.


The Neumann Foundation was founded in 2005 by Michael R. Neumann and his family, owners of Neumann Kaffee Gruppe, a market-leader in the field, servicing millions of coffee producers and 3,000 roasters and instant producers worldwide. The aim of the foundation is to empower smallholder coffee farmers and strengthen their ability to independently achieve better livelihoods.


Their approach, mission and promise:


- Support smallholder farmers on their path to becoming economically self-sufficient and enabling them to become strong and competitive business people in coffee and cocoa by strengthening their entrepreneurial skills and organizations.


- Initiate, implement and scale-up best practice projects in tropical agricultural communities worldwide.


- Contribute to the protection of natural resources and address the challenges associated with climate change and protecting biodiversity


- Contribute to the establishment of improved economic, environmental and social conditions on both a national and international level.


- Be a sector-wide and inclusive initiative, emphasizing joint learning and collaboration with all parties involved.


Other key facts I got to know while I was there:


• They are not primarely worried about coffee quality or the volume produced, their focus is totally on farmers livelihoods.

• They have 34 projects in 14 countries, with 9 local offices

• They focus on providing access to micro financing for producers

• They develop the projects Coffee&Climate and CoffeeKids, both initiatives that are not only supported by big roasters, but also smaller ones.


A few questions I asked Michael Opitz, Managing Director:


Are the projects all financed by the Institute and producers benefit from it with no costs? 

Yes, although the producers may have to pay for some investments in the property to implement the changes learned, most of the resources are donations from the partners or from Neumann. We plan to develop tools to make producers able to build these resources themselves but such tools still don’t exist.  

Example of partners and funders: Garmin Bank and Gates Foundation, the former is a new and very important Funder not only for the resources but also due to the new tools provided.  


How are the projects usually structured?

We create POs (Producer Organizations) of around 20 to 30 participants and there is where the trainings happen, then these trainers will train the Depot Comities (DC), which have around 480 participants.


Who is responsible for training the trainers?

We always have Local Partnerships for that.


What is the Foundation's point of view on certifications?

We incentivize producers to get certified only if there is demand for it, from the buyers. The problem with the standards is that not always there is the assurance of quality trainings. 


Usually the project is established for how many years?

Since we keep a relationship with the regions through the local offices, most of the projects are long term after the established period. Some of the partners are also directly involved in these communities.  


It was a good opportunity to get directly involved with a Project being implemented, especially in the initial phase, I will write more about the topic in a next post.

Hope to check them out in person next time I come to Brazil :)

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