Written by 2020 Honouree and CEO of Coffee for Peace, “Joji” Felicitas Bautista Pantoja
When we started developing the concept of Coffee for Peace as a business in 2008, we had been working on the ground and listening to the voices of the rural poor, specifically the challenges and the systemic impoverishment experienced by most farmers in the land-based, armed-conflicted areas of Mindanao.
Knowing our resource and time limitations in the field, we focused our attention on the coffee farmers.
We were aware of the many programmes encouraging farmers to produce and plant more coffee, but one thing was missing. The programmes were conceptualised in the offices of the funding organisations, lacking real consultation and deep listening on what the farmers actually need. In the end, the programmes were not the farmers’ project; they were the funders’ project. Despite the accomplishment reports of the officials, the people on the ground did not really embrace them as their own.
Coffee for Peace starts with listening. For us, listening is the first act of love. If we truly love the people, we ought to listen to them — with our ears, with our minds, with our hearts, and with our will.
We also listen to ourselves — what are lenses through which we listen, and what are resources we can access to respond to what we have heard.
We got involved by amplifying the voices of the farmers to the government. We accompanied the farmers’ spokespersons to many assemblies conducted or facilitated by various government and non-government organisations. We actively attended meetings, until they heard the farmers we were accompanying. We wrote proposals to work with the government and with other organisations by being their partner on the ground. In most cases, we served as project managers or consultants. We helped organise the farmers. We initiated trainings to bring them from the position of mere raw material suppliers to the position of being farmer entrepreneurs or ‘farmerpreneurs.’ We vouched for the farmers’ organisations as they received grants from the government. The government saw evidences of transparent, sustainable, and reproductive use of public funds entrusted to the farmers.
The training we provide are all framed in peace and reconciliation (PAR) principles and practices. The PAR training programme includes:
the fundamentals of peacebuilding
conflict transformation processes
These trainings were conducted in such a way that the farmers would understand the complex concepts using development communications approaches.
Change did not happen overnight. In our experience working with the communities who partnered with us, it would take three years to introduce a new system of thinking and working — from harvesting, processing, to having a mindset of an entrepreneur, to becoming a peacebuilding community. A family or two would apply the way Coffee for Peace, then we see their neighbors embracing the principles and practices, then we see most of the community adopting the transformative process.
Our partnership with the government and other non-government organisations helped us accomplish beyond our own organisational capacities. To increase the livelihood sustainability of the community, we helped train them to receive larger grants from the government or investments from other businesses or institutions. Right now, we see this stage of their development as a stable foundation towards further inclusive development for the next generation.
Coffee for Peace is focusing now on each individual farmer to help enhance their natural gifts and acquired skills as ‘farmerpreneurs.’ Some of them are technically inclined. Some of them are good teachers. Some of them are good with numbers. We see many more talents and skills among many of them. We are seeing the best side of each farmer and we’re facilitating how important it is for each one to work with one another harmoniously. With this inclusive and holistic view of community development, we are more confident that they can move further towards achieving greater dreams.
One big corporation operating in a conflict-affected area said that since they worked with Coffee for Peace and with our twin organisation, PeaceBuilders Community, their budget for extra bodyguards and security system significantly decreased in over a year. They saved money integrating the culture of peace in their corporate conflict management system. They were also able to develop a good working relationship with the community with whom they used to have conflicts. The high-ranking government official who was sent by our national government to observe the conflict transformation processes in this case was so happy and gave a very positive report. He saw how the mix of business and peacebuilding became a model for inclusive development especially among communities in conflicted areas.
CFP, along with our twin organisation PBCI, are grateful and glad to see a peace-framed social business contribute to an increased harmony in the community in terms of family income, sustainable livelihood, relational harmony, and the pleasure of producing and drinking freshly brewed coffee.
For justice. For peace.
President & CEO
Coffee for Peace, Inc.Davao City, Philippines
A 2020 Honouree leading a successful global company while advocating for equality and stakeholder capitalism.
Marc Benioff is Chair, CEO and Founder of Salesforce and a pioneer of cloud computing. He is a member of the World Economic Forum (“WEF”) Board of Trustees, Benioff serves as the inaugural Chair of WEF’s Forum Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco.
Salesforce founded the 1-1-1 or “Pledge 1%” model of corporate philanthropy, which dedicates 1% of Salesforce’s equity, employee time or product back into the communities it serves. This pledge has so far generated more than $280 million, millions of employee volunteer hours, and technology to nonprofits and schools worldwide.
Photo: World Economic Forum Sikarin Fon Thanachaiary
“It is a great honor to be recognised by the Business for Peace Foundation, which recognises that businesses have profound responsibilities to all our stakeholders, including our communities and our planet,” said Marc Benioff, Chair & CEO, Salesforce. “As more companies embrace stakeholder capitalism and commit to meeting the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, we see that business is the greatest platform for change.”
Mr Benioff receives the Award for being an outspoken advocate of businessworthy values and leading Salesforce with social responsibility and equality at its core. Mr Benioff is passionate about redefining capitalism to work for all, and ensuring businesses have a positive impact on the societies in which they operate.
We are proud to announce that 26 Oslo Business for Peace Award winners have come together to release a joint Call to Action statement calling to build back better business in the wake of the current pandemic.
Representing over 23 countries, this Call to Action is a united voice for business leaders in diverse sectors and across the globe.
Sarah’s Bag is a Lebanese fashion house and social enterprise that empowers women, employing over 200 prisoners, ex-prisoners and underprivileged women. Their artisan handbags have been spotted on the arms of Beyoncé and Amal Clooney, but now the company is navigating a dual crisis.
In many parts of the world, the economic and political situation was already precarious before the pandemic outbreak. Producing and selling products in Lebanon has not been easy since the revolution began several months ago. This means that the current pandemic forced 2016 Business for Peace Honouree Sarah Beydoun to take on the complexities of a crisis on top of a crisis. We talked with the fashion designer and entrepreneur about how her company, Sarah’s Bag, is responding.
CEO Sarah Beydoun and a few of the artisans of Sarah’s Bag
What’s the situation in Lebanon?
For us, the pandemic has been able to inflict maximum damage on a country already going through one of the worst crises of its history. By the time we started quarantine in March, Lebanon was already months into the worst financial crisis the country has seen since the Civil War ended in 1991.
As a social enterprise, the human element of our work is at the heart of what we do and everything that we create. We are involved in local initiatives to support the creative sector in Lebanon, because this feels like an existential crisis for all of us here. We don’t know where the country is heading.
Sarah’s Bag has been in crisis mode for the past five months. We have been in business for 20 years. We have already weathered war and political and economic crises, but what we are experiencing now is unprecedented. I am in a crisis within a crisis.
How has the pandemic affected your business? How have you as a leader responded?
I had to be honest with my team and tell them that things are tough and are going to be tough for a while. We had to make difficult decisions as a team and a company.
During the past five months, hundreds of businesses in Lebanon have gone bankrupt, or cut hours, salaries and jobs. Unlike others, I wanted to avoid lay-offs as much as I could. Now, we are operating at 10% of our capacity, so some of the team and I are on half salaries. However, for employees who are in the lower wage bracket, the salary cuts were less.
We worked on a strategy to compensate for the local loss in sales by focusing on our online boutique in addition to focusing on the international market. The type of products people are buying are essentials and things for the home. We therefore plan to work on big pieces for home décor rather than for handbags. This way, I can keep all these artisans employed.
Photo courtesy Sarah’s Bag
What would you say to fellow business leaders about how to act during these times?
Consumers are more aware than ever of how brands treat their workers. Companies have to be careful not to be tone deaf during a crisis. People will be watching to see how these companies will react, and business as usual will no longer work. I do not think people will go back to this. This is the right time for businesses to think of the kind of impact they can have, and I hope this means an increase in social enterprises.
Businesses have to find ways to protect their workers, especially in crisis. This means we have to focus on saving jobs as much as possible. This is more important than shareholder profits; these are the people behind the successes of the company. It would be incredibly sad and disheartening if there isn’t any kind of reevaluation of business values after this global disaster.
I started from scratch. When you start from scratch, you can always do it again. A lot of businesses also are going to start listening to social demands, and other businesses are going to emerge as a response to social needs.
Many people worry that this crisis will have a disproportionate impact on underprivileged groups. At the same time, there might be an opportunity to create a ‘new normal.’ How do you hope the world changes in the aftermath of this crisis?
We have to be in tune with what is happening around us. The crisis will impact a lot of underprivileged people. Everywhere in the world, this is going to impact those who have the least. There will be an opportunity to create a new normal. I hope people will emerge from this crisis and extract from it a new way of acting and living.
A lot of nice things come out of a crisis. This pandemic has brought the world closer and people are looking for instances of hope, kindness, solidarity and humanity. These should also be business values and consumers will be watching to see how companies stepped up and had a positive impact during a crisis and these companies will be rewarded for it with loyalty after this difficult time is over.
This interview is a part of a series highlighting #businessworthy efforts in response to Covid19. For more on Sarah Beydoun, visit https://sarahsbag.com/our-story/
Sarah’s Bag provides opportunities to Lebanese women who would otherwise not have these opportunities. Photo courtesy Sarah’s Bag
At a ceremony which took place at Clarence House, 2011 Business for Peace Honouree Sir Francis Yeoh received the Queen’s knighthood (KBE) by HRH Prince Charles. This is an incredible achievement, which celebrates Sir Yeoh’s extensive contributions to economic relations and to economic growth. Sir Yeoh is the managing director of the YTL Corporation, Malaysia’s top integrated infrastructure group.
Sir Francis Yeoh, Business for Peace Honouree
The Foundation is delighted to see our Honourees continue to be leading examples of businessworthy behaviour long after they receive the Oslo Business for Peace Award.
Sustainable business is a core reason as to why the Award Committee chose Sir Yeoh to be one of the recipients of the 2011 Oslo Business for Peace Award. To this day YTL continues to thrive in and focus on long-term sustainability business practices, which takes into account not only the social and economic aspects, but the environmental and cultural as well.
“I feel humbled and honoured by this award which recognises the hard work of all the great employees at the YTL Group in the UK and Malaysia. I also want to thank my family for their support and love, which gives me strength and energy in my work.”