Lasting Impact Spotlight: Muhdin Mohammed
In this series, we check back with TechnoServe program participants who were previously featured on our blog, documenting how their lives have changed and progressed.
The Nasir Mohammed coffee hulling station is located in Agaro, a small town in western Ethiopia. After the original station burned down due to poor management, the hulling station joined TechnoServe’s Coffee Made Happy program – a collaboration between global coffee company Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE) and IDH (the Sustainable Trade Initiative) – that strives to develop a sustainable supply chain model for unwashed coffee.
Hulling stations serve as collection areas where the coffee bean is separated from the exterior cherry fruit – a process that produces significant waste. The husks left behind during the processing often contaminate local water sources and pose a fire hazard when not disposed of properly.
TechnoServe worked with Nasir Mohammed to transform coffee husks from a safety risk to an important source of mulch for local coffee farmers. We caught up with Mudhin Mohammed, manager of the Nasir Mohammed hulling station, to see how the family-owned business is doing three years later.
Previously, we didn’t have our own hulling station, so we had to run our coffee business by renting a hulling station from other people. This year, we have constructed our own station.”
How is your business doing now?
“Our enterprise is doing well, and we have seven permanent and 122 casual employees currently performing different activities at all levels. We are doing our business in two forms. First, we purchase jenfel (sun-dried coffee cherry) from our suppliers, process it, transport it to the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange, and sell it. We also provide hulling services to licensed traders.
We are recording all the transactions in a computer, which we had not done before. For example, from this harvest season (January through April 2019) our enterprise processed 11,100 tons of jenfel, of which 75 percent was purchased and processed by us. The other 25 percent was processed by the licensed suppliers. For the last four months, we sold 363 tons of green coffee and earned $637,235.
Previously, we didn’t have our own hulling station, so we had to run our coffee business by renting a hulling station from other people. This year, we have constructed a hulling station and installed two operating machines and two large size stores. This is an indication of how our business has expanded in the last 2 to 3 years.”
What has changed for your life in the last few years?
“My personal life has improved both economically and socially. My monthly salary has increased by $350, and now I have a private vehicle and house. In addition, I have two kids at home that I am able to support with my additional income.”
How are you using your money from your business?
“My family has an annual business plan every year that clearly indicates all cost categories and income revenues. Based on the plan, all family members have a chance to discuss together and make a decision on how to invest the money obtained from the business. We decided that all family members who are fully utilizing their time on performing different activities in the enterprise should receive monthly compensation of about $1,700 based on their role and responsibility in the hulling station.”
How are you continuing to apply what you learned from TechnoServe?
“We have learned to improve business skills and implementation of different sustainability standards in our enterprise, which really was helpful for us to sustain in a dry coffee business supply chain. We have learned how we should act socially and morally in maintaining our workers’ health and safety situations. We have also learned a lot about environmental conservation and are transparent economically by applying good recordkeeping and accounting practices.
We are also very much concerned about the environment. As of the current year, like that of the past, we have distributed about 75 truckloads of husk to different farmers’ association cooperatives. We have also constructed a husk storage facility. However, currently it is empty because all the husk was already transported by coffee farmers for the purpose of mulching their farms.”
We are paying good wages to our employees who perform different activities in our enterprise, which can mobilize the economy of the society around our hulling station.”
How has your success affected other people?
“Our enterprise is one of the biggest hulling stations at the district level that processes a higher volume of dry coffee. This indicates that there is a huge transaction of money in the business, and the people living around and the suppliers have a chance to make money by doing business or being employed as a worker in the enterprise. When people have a chance to be engaged in the hulling station, they can afford their livelihood, and their kids have a chance for schooling.
Additionally, we are paying good wages to our employees who perform different activities in our enterprise, which can mobilize the economy of the society around our hulling station.”
How has your business and training from TechnoServe helped you become more resilient to challenges?
“We have learned from TechnoServe how we can solve problems through applying our business skills. For example, if we follow and apply good bookkeeping practices and control our costs, we will be profitable and will have a chance to be more competitive in the coffee business, despite any market drops. We have also increased our workers’ productivity through maintaining their health and safety during their work in the hulling station. We have always conducted annual risk assessments in our hulling stations and made the necessary decisions before we start processing coffee in the hulling station.”