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Reference no. 811-035-1
The case focuses on the challenges and opportunities of poor communities in achieving sustainable livelihoods, and also on the dilemmas faced by social entrepreneurs or aid managers seeking to enhance empowerment and enfranchisement of project beneficiaries and reduce their dependence on continued assistance. Black Stone Coop, founded in 1992 by a group of poor coffee growers with the aid and assistance of two social entrepreneurs, was highly successful in various ways. Its coffee met the strictest standards set by international organic and Fair Trade institutions, and it had successfully exported coffee year after year for more than a decade. Moreover, the standard of living of coop members and their families had improved. Nevertheless, in 2006, Black Stone Coop members were still highly dependent on the voluntary support and professional council of the two social entrepreneurs, and the latter had become increasingly concerned by the coop’s lack of self-reliance. The case provides qualitative and quantitative data that will allow students to assess the performance, challenges and opportunities for all actors involved, and to formulate strategies for the two social entrepreneurs as to how to engage with the coop in the years to come.