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I heard that the Ayala Corporation is supporting social enterprises by offering free space in their chain of malls throughout the country. Last 19 April 2021, I got a call from one of their representatives inquiring if I was interested in opening a 26-square-meter shop at the Ayala Abreeza Mall in Davao City as part of their Alagang Ayala Land Program. My first reaction was to pray. Then I established my objectives in light of the vision and mission of Coffee for Peace. I presented the plan to our community and to the management team of CFP. Our team recruited new interns and prepared them for this opportunity. Last 16 September 2021, we opened the Coffee for Peace Kiosk at Abreeza.

Surviving through the pandemic

The coffee industry in Davao Region has been adversely affected by the CoViD19 pandemic in the past year in all sectors of the value chain. From the unavailability of farm inputs and labor in production to the closure of coffee shops due to health protocols and quarantine restrictions, the coffee stakeholders have struggled with the usual way of doing things.

After a year, the entrepreneurial spirit has resurfaced and innovative approaches are beginning to take form. The emergence of pop-up cafe is just one example of how the displaced coffee shop workers and baristas have tried to adjust; but they are still faced with challenges as the government and public also tries to adjust policies and habits to the new normal.

Sensing a demand in the market, the Abreeza Mall has offered, through Coffee for Peace, a space in the mall for a coffee social enterprise. As a social enterprise, CFP called on the other stakeholders to form a business concept that would benefit a greater number of people while fostering knowledge and resource sharing among themselves and the consuming public. This will somehow be an avenue and mechanism for learning, advocating, and innovating of new CoViD responsive coffee business models to enable the industry to sustain under the new normal situation.

My prayers and what I wanted to accomplish

I listed my prayers in the language and format of a business idea. Here’s what CFP Kiosk at the Abreeza Mall aims to accomplish:

  • To advocate the consumption of good quality Davao coffee in a non-restrictive environment or
    at home (home brewing).
  • To provide a social enterprise working experience for baristas and pop-up cafe entrepreneurs.
  • To create alternative markets for Davao coffee produced by indigenous communities, women,
    youth, landless farmers, conflict area communities, and PWDs through coffee micro
    businesses and home brewing
  • To develop concepts for life-giving alternative business for coffee farmers, traders, service
    outlets, processors, and micro entrepreneurs.
  • To be a center for information and communication among coffee stakeholders and the
    consuming public to further strengthen the coffee industry in Davao Region.

This arrangement fits our corporate identity

After several meeting with Ayala Abreeza Mall representatives, we learned about the criteria they have crafted for Social Enterprises that can be accepted into their malls:

  • Must be start up business and not an existing or regular merchant of the mall;
  • It is community based-enterprise;
  • It generates livelihood or employment of a particular community;
  • There’s bulk production or enough supply —7 days a week
  • The SE has the ability or capacity to man their stall/kiosk for the entire duration;
  • Products produced should not directly compete with existing merchant;
  • Must be a legal entity, with needed permits and govt approvals;
  • They must comply with our design and construction guidelines; and,
  • As incubator hub, rent is free, pay Common Use Service Area (CUSA) fee only, and 1 year contract

I said to myself, ”These qualifications seem to have been patterned after Coffee for Peace.”

The larger social benefits

The CFP Kiosk is a collaborative effort between the CFP, Davao Coffee Council (DCCR), University of Mindanao Barista Association, and selected pop-up cafe owners. This Kiosk includes the following components:

  • Customer Education. The baristas and interns are trained to share information about coffee and how to appreciate fine coffee with the customers.
  • Employment of Baristas. While experiencing practical training, interns will be employed as part-timers in the coffee business.
  • Utilizes Local Davao Coffee. Local coffee and and products are promoted; this Kiosk will provide a market for the local coffee farmers.
  • Sale of Coffee-Related Products. CFP Kiosk promotes home brewing as an alternative means of enjoying good quality coffee during pandemic times.
  • Featuring Local Industry Players. Various farmers, baristas, and pop-up cafe owners from Greater Davao Region are featured each week to highlight that good coffee is an outcome of a strong supply chain with each link producing quality products.
  • Encourages CoLab. CFP Kiosk is also designed as a collaborative space: (a) the Kiosk will be a collaboration between coffee industry players from farmers to pop-up cafes and baristas; (b) this Kiosk can also serve as coffee laboratory where different concepts can be tested and modelled; (d) it can involve experimentation into business concepts, raw materials, processes, and other factors to test customer acceptability and market response; (e) it is a community of learning and advocacy in business; (f) it seeks to innovate for CoViD-time life-giving alternative business models for the coffee industry.

At the time of this writing, the daily sales are picking up, the barista interns demonstrate enthusiasm in accomplishing their assigned tasks based on their job descriptions, and the relationship with the Abreeza Mall management is going well. 

I’m grateful to Aldren Banal who coordinated the working team in the actual setting up of this Kiosk. Aldren is the Operations Manager of Coffee for Peace, Inc.

Above all, I’m grateful to the Creator’s grace, mercy, wisdom, and strength.