High-Altitude And High-Quality East African Coffee Getting Help From Alibaba's Jack Ma
The East African nation of Rwanda is on its way as a world-class specialty coffee destination as the Chinese Alibaba Group helps raise its flavor and aroma profile.
Rwanda's high-altitude and high-quality coffee are buttery and sweet, tinged with caramel notes and hit with citrusy and fruity overtones.
Experts say Rwanda coffee is a combination of flavors delicately balanced to create a complex and unusual coffee flavor.
The sudden awareness in Rwanda's coffee is a by-product of Jack Ma's one-year experiential and academic program, the Alibaba Global Leadership Academy.
At the helm of this major coffee, movement is Diabate Dean Harry, a French project leader from Tmall Global, a branch of Alibaba focused on bringing overseas goods to Chinese customers through e-commerce.
Before being part of Alibaba, Harry was with retail brands on the Champs-Elysees in Paris and was into technologies like augmented reality.
Afterward, he moved to China and started his own digital marketing business in Shanghai.
Seeing himself as the one bridging a role in a company that is successful in the home market but also wants to seek growth overseas, he applied for Alibaba's competitive one-year program for future global leaders, the Alibaba Global Leadership Academy.
This program offers experiential and academic learning.
After graduation, Harry became a full-time staff member at Tmall Global.
His professional background and deep understanding of the Chinese market helped him successfully promote Rwanda coffee.
He noticed that rough packaging is one factor plaguing its sales.
He then encouraged local partners to change the packaging and conducted a number of public relations campaigns to change the stereotype about Rwanda coffee.
During the October campaign, "Tear Off the Label for Africa," close to 80 million people read the articles on the Chinese social media Weibo about the coffee from this East African nation.
More than 700,000 people joined the conversation and in just four days, 1,066 packs of Rwanda coffee got sold.
About 762 packs were sold in just one day and one of the coffee brands sold out on the first day.
Rwanda is the first African nation to sign up with the eWTP (electronic World Trade Platform) deal with Alibaba, conceptualized by Chairman Jack Ma to connect small and medium-sized enterprises to the world using e-commerce, streamlined administrative procedures, and technology.
Harry believes that "the best help is through empowerment" adding that Tmall's work "empowered an entire industry" producing "win-win for everyone."
Rwanda's coffee is the second-largest exporter earner and one of the keys in its economy bringing in US$58 million in 2017.
According to Clare Akamanzi, executive director of Rwanda Development Board, the country has approximately 400,000 farmers who export more than 80% of their coffee harvest.
Rwanda coffee is mostly exported to Singapore, Switzerland and the United States including Kenya, South Africa, and Tanzania.