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Blessed Coffee Wins Start Up Africa Entrepreneurship


New York (TADIAS) – When the founders of Blessed Coffee initially ventured into “the business of coffee” four years ago, they did an informal survey to see what “the American market perceives the drink to be,” says co-owner Tebabu Assefa. “To my surprise most of the people we interviewed thought that coffee came from Columbia.” He adds “I was amazed and I said to myself wait a minute.” That was the trigger point, Tebabu recalls, for his Blessed Coffee brand — one of the first enterprises established under Maryland’s pioneering benefit corporation law.


The coffee brand incorporates the retelling of the popular beverage’s storied “African heritage” juxtaposed with the cultural Ethiopian coffee ceremony. The latter, Tebabu points out, was designed to highlight his wife’s and his own birth country Ethiopia where the world’s most traded agricultural product was first cultivated. “At the end of the day we are talking about a muti-billion dollar industry here,” Tebabu argues. “So what we did was set out to redefine the market and create an economic space for our small business.”


Since it was launched in 2010 the venture has received several national accolades, including from President Obama’s administration, which named the founders “Champions of Change” at a White House ceremony two years ago. And last week the benefit corporation was honored by a Wilmington, Delaware-based African Diaspora business association — Start up Africa - with the 2014 Entrepreneurship of the Year Award.


“They liked the fact that Blessed Coffee was introduced as a model and that Blessed Coffee aspires to connect growers and producers in Africa with the market here vis-à-vis the African Diaspora,” Tebabu said. “And they did their research and they were fascinated by the social business development and the recognition we have gained. They looked at it as a model that can inspire the African business community; that’s what the founder said when he introduced us.”


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