2014 was a banner year for De la Gente. In April, we launched a re-imagined organization under the new name and haven’t looked back since. We were excited to present a new name and look that better represents who we are and what we do, and based on the outpouring of positive feedback it’s safe to say that our supporters were too. Along with the new presentation is a clearer focus on how we are most effective at generating economic opportunity for coffee communities, and a clearer vision of how to build a more inclusive coffee economy based on strong cooperatives and great coffee.
To better tell our story, we took the opportunity to launch an entire brand that ties our identity across our coffee, tours, and programs. That meant new packaging, a new website, and new promotional materials that share our perspective and tell the story of our partners and participants. Our social media channels are alight with activity and we’ve never had a higher rating on TripAdvisor than we have right now at #2!
We’ve seen significant growth in our coffee sales as more people jump on the DLG bandwagon. Online sales are up over 10%, and our monthly subscription offers have proved to be a hit. We added a number of new roasters, and green sales almost doubled. In Antigua Guatemala, DLG coffee is now available on shelves at over 10 different locations. Overall, we sold almost 40% more coffee, meaning more and more people are enjoying the coffee that our partner cooperatives and farmers work hard to produce and perfect.
The number of people that we have engaged in our community tourism work has increased substantially as well. More people participated in our coffee tours and workshops than ever before. We have also increased the number of students who have participated in our week-long service learning trips, which have been called ‘life-changing’ by the participants. Most groups plan on returning in 2015 and recommend the experience to their peers.
On the ground, we continued our work alongside farmers in their communities. Through generous donations, we have been able to help cooperatives and their members with peer-to-peer training and resources needed to protect their coffee against roya and replace coffee plants that were damaged. We also provided professional development and financing opportunities to help cooperatives and their leaders have the resources and knowledge to grow. One of the cooperatives will be joining our supply chain for the first time in 2015, which marks their first-ever coffee export. They could not be more excited or proud of their work, and we join them in this sentiment.
We’re pushing full steam ahead to build on our successes in 2015. We are bringing in over 60,000 lbs of coffee from more than a hundred farmers spread across three cooperatives, which will translate into about 35% growth. We have a full schedule of service learning trips signed up for the year and look forward to welcoming over 200 high school and university students. In our programs, we’re planning more financing and advanced training opportunities to help cooperatives be the effective organizations they aspire to be. We hope to raise enough funds to grow our volume of coffee a further 50% in 2016, and potentially bring more farmers into the fold.
We look forward to another year of building a better coffee economy that empowers cooperatives, delivers great coffee, spreads awareness, and generates economic opportunity, and we hope you’ll join us.