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Small Coffee Company for Christ

Market: Expats in community, community residents, western and national tourists

Structure: Wholly owned foreign enterprise (WOFE). Husband/wife owners. Four full-time local employees.

Champion: American who has developed business skills by working for a manufacturing operation in this city for the past 7 years and recently finishing up his undergraduate business degree.
Business formation: Idea formed out of observation that the city lacked coffee shops and the availability of a prime retail location on a major street in an area with new, more upscale apartment buildings. Pulled together registration capital and renovation monies by themselves and jumped in. Only been in operation for one month.

Vision: Opportunity to reach different segment of the local population through retail-based relationships. Seeking to connect with a reach out to upper-middle class and artistic segments of the majority population while also having special events to allow connection for those interested in minority peoples. If successful, hope to replicate in other parts of the city and other locations.

Story: While living and working in this city recognized a potential market and felt a need to change their roles. When this location became available, they decided to try it themselves. Renovated the space, set up shop, hired some local transformed people and are pressing ahead. Daytime clientele is primarily expats studying and living in the city. Late afternoon and evening clientele is predominantly local. Made a connection with a music concert facility down the street and now often have performers visiting their facility. Host a ‘speak minority language’ night each week, led in part by one of their local staff. Chance for expats to speak this language and invite in native speakers with whom to interact.

Lessons learned: Importance of location for retail operation. This shop’s location positives include being on a street with extensive new residential apartments, concert theater, near business district, high visibility.

Future plans: Husband transition out of his existing work so he can focus on this full-time. If it proves financially successful and sustainable, see about replicating it in other places in the city and in other locations.

Results:

  • Set up WOFE for relatively low cost (US $12k).
  • Providing jobs for four nationals.
  • Creating relational connections with a different sector of local population that perhaps has no active witness.

Observations:

  • Idea that appears to have no clear business plan – just ideas. No idea on how long it may take to break even, much less make money. Not the only coffee shop in the city, or in this area of the city.
  • No clear articulation of BAM philosophy nor ministry objectives. Admit they have no plan and are just seeing how things happen. Not sure how deep relationally one can go with retail-based relationship.
  • Have no idea on the economic sustainability of the coffee shops.

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posted by Justin Forman | 2.08.2009 - 1:05 PM

5 Comments:

What country and city?
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 2:15 AM  

This case study is not me... but I could provide a similar case study.

Definite possibilities. Problems can be addressed and solved.

Real ministry can be done.
commented by Blogger Tou and David, 3:41 AM  

Sorry about the vague details about the location of the company but all the people that have been interviewed for those series on case studies have asked that we keep the location and names of the business out of the story. I know it would be nice to analyze the details of each of them but more than anything I'm grateful that the groups have shared the life and business lessons so we can apply them in other areas.
commented by Blogger Justin Forman, 1:36 PM  

In Minneapolis, MN my friends and I are considering banding together in "intentional" community, to incubate BAM enterprises.

For seven years I worked and lived in a Christian missionary compound. I have lived in both Mexico (12 months) and China (six months). For over thirty years now I have worked in the publishing and printing industry .

Friends in China have successfully operated a Coffee Shop & English Language Club for years.

A BAM oriented community would stress a communal life that is partially supported by community businesses like coffee shops and learning centers (like the Kumon Math & Reading franchise my wife owned & operated).

These and/or other low overhead small business enterprises, owed by the community, could train future business owners and help support them as they startup operations overseas.

Any one interested in discussing this...over a carafe of "Small Coffee Company for Christ" java?
commented by Anonymous Dan Trautmann, 10:26 PM  

Hi,

I believe this was my coffee shop. Funny finding it here, ha ha. Anyway, just an update, the business model proved very successful. We were consistently profitable from the first month. Ultimately, we decided to transition out of the country and sold the business to like minded friends. It continues to be profitable and successful by other measures to present.

One point of clarification is that we did prepare a thorough business plan before we began and were glad we did. It is true that we didn't have much of a plan on the min front though. That developed organically as we expected.

Anyway, we were very satisfied with how things turned out. It is a solid, sustainable platform that is a blessing to the current owners, staff, and customers. I think it is a huge blessing to the city and a great model.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 11:06 PM  

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