Paving the Road to Success

Last year with the help of our community here at Old Quarter, we raised over $5,000 to contribute to improving the road infrastructure in the villages of the Gayo Highlands in Central Aceh, Sumatra.

The People

If you’ve ever tried our Sumatra Gayo-Bies coffee – you’ll know that it showcases what Indonesian speciality coffee can be. The Sumatra Bies is one of our most popular coffees and has been widely loved since we first released it in 2017. 

Sumatra Gayo-Bies comprises coffee from 5 villages in the richly biodiverse mountains of Central Aceh. The coffee farmers are all members of an inspiring female-led cooperative that incentivizes the use of organic fertilizers, provides agronomical assistance, and pays all farmers well above the local prices. Receiving a higher price enables the farmers to focus on organic agricultural practices and improving cup quality. A culture of fairness, sustainability and a dedication to quality control allows the co-op to produce some of Indonesia’s finest organic coffees. This cooperative model is one we’re proud to support – as they believe (like us) that coffee can be used to build connection and community. We've been working with the co-op for the past 5 years, and in 2019 we were lucky enough to visit them in person. We became close friends quickly - because despite being from different cultural backgrounds, we're driven by the same improve farmers lives and spread ‘Daily Happy’ across the globe. 

 The Challenge 

Last year, we learned that many of the wonderful people who grow our favourite coffees were putting their livelihoods at risk to sell their produce because of poor road infrastructure. During harvest season when there is heavy rainfall, the narrow, steep dirt tracks to the coffee processing facility in town become extremely dangerous to travel on, particularly when loaded with 60kg sacks of coffee! We learned that when the weather was particularly bad, the farmers couldn’t use the roads at all. Coffee needs to be processed shortly after harvest – so if the farmers couldn't make the journey into town, it could mean their coffee was unusable and that their total annual income would be lost overnight. 

The Contribution 

As our customers, you’ll know that Old Quarter is first and foremost a social enterprise. Our strongest driver has always been to build a business bigger than ourselves that would create change. With a commitment to our Good on the Ground community development projects and over 15 years of working relationships with our partners, Old Quarter is a testament to the power of collective respect and action. Working closely with the co-op in Central Aceh we decided to do something about the dangerous conditions the Sumatran farmers were experiencing. In a beautiful show of humanity and community, the co-op’s members voted to donate their dividends to help the farmers in need, and this donation financed more than 40% of the total cost of the paving project. Here in Australia, Old Quarter donated $1 from every bag of Sumatran Gayo-Bies sold during the month of May to the project, and we asked our generous customers, friends, and families to give what they could in solidarity. Together, we raised over $5,000 – demonstrating the strength and kindness of our Old Quarter community. 

The Impact 

These generous contributions, combined with the members' dividends, enabled the co-op to pave 500 metres of dirt road for 8 different villages and more than 1000 households. The most amazing thing about this project was that it wasn't just the farmers who benefitted. Everyone who lives in these villages now has access to safe travel all year round - to shop, go to school, do business, and connect with one another. The success of this project is a testament to the generosity and drive of both the co-op as well as our Old Quarter community here in Australia, and we couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve achieved together. 

That's what we call Daily Happy! Want to learn more about our work to make GOOD THINGS happen? Read about OQ's Optimism Exchange Program here.

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