Sun | Dec 16, 2018

Lauren Le Franc merging coffee and technology

Published:Monday | November 19, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Owner of True Blue Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee, Lauren Le Franc, is embarking on a huge business venture by assisting coffee farmers globally.

Her business is now registered in the UK as The Little Coffee Company and her mission is to bring a difference to the coffee industry with technological solutions.

Her mission to help farmers has taken her across Africa.

Little Coffee Company plans to use technology to change the balance of power across industries.

"It not only allows buyers direct access to farmers but offers complete transparency from the farmer to end consumer. This data is not only beneficial for buyers but helps to increase the income of farmers and access to mobile finance," she explained.

The entrepreneur has received notable awards, such as the Inspiring Innovator Award from a UK investment bank and The City University of London Green Spark Award.

"Winning these awards has not only given my business credibility ... but also helps to build my network with and accelerate our goals for the year. I have worked hard to really test my business model, and winning these awards from such prestigious companies will enable us to offer the proper funding to help farmers," she said.

Little Coffee Company's main goal is to place emphasis on a digitised, monetised and transparent programme which will help small-holder farmers.

"By having a transparent supply chain model, this not only highlights the farmers for the work they do, but also gives them accessibility to direct trade, so they are able to get the price they deserve," she said. "Up to 50 per cent of crop value vanishes between picking and point of sale."

As Little Coffee Company assists farmers with its technological approach, Le Franc further explained that, "This digi-tech approach provides a platform that will connect everyone in agriculture by providing efficiency and trust to farmers."

Recently, Little Coffee collaborated with farmers in Cameroon.

"As a small organic producer in Cameroon working in collaboration with The Little Coffee Company will help to improve my processes and selling my coffee at a fair price via a fair-trade channel so that I can secure a better price to all small producers in Cameroon," shared Chief Daniel Kemdeng.

As Le Franc expands her work with other countries interested in the coffee trade, she is now in dialogue with one of the biggest mobile phone providers in Zimbabwe, which will assist with direct transactions to alleviate the hassle of the delays in payments and other setbacks to small farmers. She will also be working with the Geovation Hub which is a digital data lab, to help with her location data from farmers.

Le Franc encouraged young entrepreneurs to "do what you are passionate about".

"It took me years of hard work within the coffee industry to get to where I am today. It's rewarding when I get closer to my goals so I keep pushing forward," she said.