ColumnistsJames ClingmanOp-EdOpinion

CLINGMAN: ‘Sweet Unity’ Among Black People

Great news! In the tradition of those who have called for supporting our African relatives in some form or another, THE One Million Conscious and Conscientious Black Contributors and Voters, has developed one way to do just that. In addition to creating more conscious black millionaires via our own “cash mob,” we have consummated a partnership with Sweet Unity Farms Coffee, a network of small scale family owned coffee farms organized as cooperatives in Tanzania; it was established in 1996 by David Robinson, son of baseball great Jackie Robinson, and his family in the Mbeya region of Tanzania where the Robinson family began their own farm on 280 acres in 1989.

Since 1983, David Robinson has been involved in the economic development in Africa through sustainable economic ventures. David is the founder and managing director of The Higher Ground Development Corporation, a Tanzanian company established in 1985 with the objective of helping to bring Tanzanian producers into the global economy through the collective strengths of cooperative organization and international partnerships. In 1998, David and his family founded the American corporation Up-Country International Products Inc., which is the sole distributor and marketer of Sweet Unity Farms Coffee. The New York City-based company is managed by David’s daughter, Metarere Robinson, together with African-American partners.

David Robinson is a glowing example of actually doing what many black folks simply talk about: connecting with our brothers and sisters in Africa via profit-making businesses. Now it’s time for us to step up our game, and the opportunity to do that is available to all who want to build strong, practical and sustainable relationships. This is yet another opportunity to put our money, a relatively small amount of it, where our mouths are.

In case you don’t know, three of the five best coffees in the world are grown in Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya. Tanzanian is famous for its “High Mountain Grown” Peaberry grade coffee. Blogger Coffee Man Dan says, “A Peaberry is the result of a coffee cherry (fruit) producing a single bean instead of the usual two half-beans. This results in a coffee bean with a more concentrated flavor. Only about 7% of any coffee cherry crop is Peaberry.”

I have bought Sweet Unity Farms Coffee for several years and have written about it for years as well, noting it in my book, “Black Empowerment with an Attitude.” Believe me, if you like coffee, you will absolutely love Sweet Unity. Even if you are not a coffee drinker, surely you know someone who is. Why not send a couple of pounds of Sweet Unity as gifts? Additionally, ask your local coffee shops to add it to their menus.

On the business side of things, the coffeehouse industry in the United States was forecast to generate more than $32 billion in revenue in 2016. U.S. coffeehouses make up just a small sector of the vast food and drink industry which expected to see sales of about $782 billion in 2016. Shouldn’t black people go for a share of that, especially since the best coffees are grown by black people in Africa?

Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages worldwide and in the United States. On the commodities market it ranks at the top with oil and wheat. The U.S. primarily purchases coffee from Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala and Vietnam. This is a market opportunity for Sweet Unity Coffee if only we support it, along with all of its other consumers around the world.

When deciding where to purchase their beloved coffee, consumers rated the taste of the coffee as a key buying factor. If you have not already, when you take your first sip of Sweet Unity, you will definitely want to make it a regular part of your personal coffee menu.

Bottom line: This is a very simple, action-oriented, participatory, economic solution. Not a panacea, but it is an important part of the solution. As is our philosophy in THE One Million, a few dollars from a critical mass of consumers will go a long way, and no one person or entity has to be burdened with providing the majority of the resources for any of our financial endeavors.

Here is a Jackie Robinson quote from my first book: “All those people who say we’ve got it made in athletics have it all wrong; it’s just not so. We might make it as individuals, but I think we have to be concerned about the masses of the people.”

Please go to www.iamoneofthemillion.com and order a couple of pounds of Sweet Unity Coffee, or a case for your coffee shop, and make a habit of doing so. By doing so, we reflect the character of Jackie Robinson, build his son’s business, and do wonders for the owners of those small coffee farms in the Motherland.

James Clingman’s latest book, “Black Dollars Matter: Teach Your Dollars How to Make More Sense,” is available on his website, Blackonomics.com.

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James Clingman

James E. Clingman is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. His weekly syndicated newspaper column, Blackonomics, is featured in hundreds of newspapers, magazines, and newsletters. He has written seven books, five of which on Economic Empowerment, and has been the featured speaker for numerous organizations, schools, churches, and events across the United States.

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