UK barista sends cows to coffee growers in Africa

In 2014, Starbucks barista Aaron Swift traveled from the United Kingdom to visit coffee farms in the remote East African country of Rwanda as part of the Starbucks Origin Experience. The trip changed his life and possibly the lives of thousands of Rwandans.

The Value of a Cow

In Rwanda, entire communities rely on growing coffee. And with its tropical climate and volcanic soil, the conditions are ideal. The problem is, many of Rwanda’s small farmers can’t afford the resources they need to thrive. Resources like a cow.

A cow means farmers can invest back into their livelihood and in their community. They can use milk for drinking and selling, the manure to increase the crop yield, and the animal as collateral for a loan to buy farming materials.
- Aaron Swift,
Starbucks barista

Aaron was so moved by what such a simple thing could mean to so many people, he decided to donate a cow to a family in Rwanda. So when he got back to Manchester, he worked with his fellow partners at Starbucks to raise the funds. The response from the community was overwhelming.

Thanks to Aaron’s vision, and the passion of his fellow partners, they raised enough money to donate 134 cows to Rwanda through the Send a Cow organization. Inspired by the example, Starbucks created The Big Cow Project in 2015. More than 700 stores participated, raising nearly £40,000 ($60,000 USD) to fund cows for the people of Rwanda.

Meet Aaron

A four-year partner (employee) in Manchester, England, Aaron is now one of four coffee ambassadors in the UK. As an ambassador, he helps coordinate educational events for Starbucks partners and plans to remain involved in the Send a Cow program.

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