The OCC is a unique ethical trading social enterprise. It was set up in 2008 by the LYF and a group of Oromo refugees settled in the UK.
The OCC is owned and run by members of the Oromo community as a not-for-profit business roasting and selling high-quality Ethiopian coffee.
The OCC packs a ‘triple whammy’ by:
Supporting African producers of Fairtrade and organic certified high quality coffee
Generating skills building and social profit for Oromos in the UK
Building cohesion between the refugee and established UK communities
How it Happened
In autumn 2008 the LYF was approached by a group of Oromo Ethiopian refugees recently settled by the UN Gateway project in Greater Manchester. They asked us to help them develop a self-help business to build their work experience and skills; ultimately – job creation.
The LYF already had links with Ethiopian coffee smallholders; so it wasn’t a big leap of imagination for us to envisage a fantastic new approach to fairer trading – one that truly supported African refugee communities in the UK not to be reliant on the state, and which paid a fair price to coffee smallholders in Ethiopia at the same time. Consequently, together we set up the first ‘Community to Community’ Fairtrade Coffee Company – the Oromo Coffee Company (OCC).
A great deal of hard work was involved. We secured crucial, in-kind support from a range of businesses and contributors, particularly Bolling Coffee, Asone Design and Tameside Council. Crucial to the OCC’s success has been this kind of support from partners and the commitment and hard work of the Oromo Board and management team and, in particular, the local volunteers who help them.
In May 2009, with the support of the former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, James Purnell (who was also the local MP), the OCC was able to hold a launch at Westminster of their own range of Fairtrade certified coffee. They were joined at the launch by Tadesse Meskela, General Manager of the Oromia Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Union (OCFCU), featured in the film ‘Black Gold’.
The exceptional quality of the fine Ethiopian coffees sourced, and the innovative nature of this social enterprise, have gained a growing market presence and reputation for the OCC.
OCC coffee is now certified organic as well as Fairtrade, and is stocked and used in a number of independent stores, hotels and restaurants – including the famous Duke of Cambridge organic gastro-pub in London.
If you have any questions about the OCC, or if you would like to buy Oromo coffee, or see local stockists, go to www.oromocoffee.org or Contact Us.
“The LYF is forging an innovative new path in this vital sector bringing together local communities from around the world. They help deliver for the producers as well as forging strong community links here in the UK and are raising the expectations and aspirations of all involved. I fully support their work and wish them all the best in the future” – James Purnell, former MP and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions