Soon, the local Dogwood Coffee Company
will be able to see the results of its $10,000 fundraising campaign
for a water well in the impoverished Tigray region of Northern Ethiopia.
Dogwood, which began raising money for the water well in November, met its goal on Dec. 31, with the help of customers and employees.
The coffee company, which has a coffee bar in Southwest Minneapolis, took on the project through Charity Water,
a New York nonprofit organization that funds clean water projects in developing countries.
The well will deliver clean water to 500 people for 20 years, according to Greg Hoyt, a co-owner of the coffee company. “It’s a significant project,” he says, adding, “It takes a year to build and train people how to use the well.”
Although the company typically gives 1 percent of its annual gross revenue to charity, “This was the biggest push,” he says. “It was the first time we decided to get other people involved, so we could do even more than what Dogwood generates.”
That dollar figure is also well above its typical goal of $6,000, he explains.
“It had such a great response we want to do it again this year,” he says. “It was word-of-mouth that helped.”
Originally, Dogwood asked to support a project in the region where it sources its beans. This turned out to be a humbling experience in that the charity involved turned them down, saying funds go to areas with the greatest need. “It was a good gut-check for us,” he says. “However well-intended our giving might be, it wasn’t up to us to decide where the need is.”
Still, the coffee company was able to make an impact in a country where many of its beans come from.
Dogwood chose to hone in on this issue in part because coffee is 98 percent water. “We obsess about so many aspects of the coffee roast and preparation,” he says. “We need to be that geeky about water. It’s a key element and it’s so elusive in the countries that we buy coffee from.”
This is also a social justice issue. “It’s incredibly tragic that for many, clean water is a luxury,” he says.
With GPS technology, Dogwood will soon be able to see footage of the well in action.
“We didn’t know what would happen. We figured we would do the best we could,” he says. “We were really thrilled people joined us in this.”
Source: Greg Hoyt, co-owner, Dogwood Coffee
Writer: Anna Pratt