The international office of Café Africa is a non-profit association registered under Swiss law. It was founded in 2006 by Mr. John Schluter who worked 35 years, mainly in processing, exporting and marketing African coffee. Café Africa is governed by an Annual General Meeting of Members and a Management Committee.
Café Africa’s core vision emerged in early 2006 as founding members realized that increasing global coffee demand and Africa’s production potential represented a unique opportunity. This could address the issues of Africa’s declining export volumes of coffee and the resulting increase in poverty in rural areas. This became the driver of the Association’s campaign for a restoration of Africa’s coffee industry to the levels of the mid-1970’s/early 80s,, a time when Africa accounted for up to 30% of global production and exports.
Steeped in Understanding
While preparing a presentation on the challenges of marketing African coffee at the 2006 AFCA Conference in Arusha, John Schluter realized that coffee production in Africa could grind to a halt within 30 years if the sector was not restructured. After 40 years in the coffee industry, he handed his family’s 150-year-old export and trading business to the next generation.
Inspired by a Collective Impact philosophy, John reached out to his diverse network and began bringing together disjointed actors in the industry, interlinking those who had formerly been isolated within their own supply chain. Later that year in Kampala, at a joint stakeholder meeting chaired by the then Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Kibirige Ssebunya, Café Africa launched a National Production Campaign in Uganda. This aimed to turn around the declining export volumes of coffee, and increase household incomes through improved productivity and production.
Linking Supply Chains
Over the past ten years, Cafe Africa has worked in several African nations, contributing towards a cohesive and rejuvenated coffee sector by bringing all interested actors to the table. From farmers to government officials, to exporters and investors, Café Africa facilitates dialogue around a shared vision for the trajectory of Africa’s coffee sector.
“Building relationships is key, it’s everything.” John Schluter, CEO Café Africa
Today, Cafe Africa is working in DRC, Uganda and Tanzania, continuing to support the long-term vision of a sustainably thriving coffee sector. Through annual meetings, development of training materials, facilitating coffee shows and hosting regular coffee breakfast meetings, Café Africa is working with the coffee industry to find ways to restore Africa’s coffee production to its former level in world markets.