With a successful apparel business and an award-winning AR/VR development studio under his belt, Enrique Sánchez-Rivera is channeling his entrepreneurial spirit into a new venture: a socially conscious coffee company. Fueled by a deep commitment to drive positive change and energized by the insights gained during his time in the 2022 cohort of the Yale Global Executive Leadership Program (YGELP), Enrique is doing his part to combat the stark inequities within the coffee industry.
What inspired you to found Love Preferred Coffee Co.?
I founded Love Preferred Coffee Co. with a clear purpose: to address the inequities within the coffee industry, where coffee farmers, the very heart of the business, often receive the smallest share of the rewards. I saw a gap in the coffee value chain and was determined to bridge it. Typically, when coffee farmers sell their beans, it marks the end of their involvement in the process, despite the fact that they earn a meager $8 to $10 per day. In stark contrast, coffee shops charge $5 to $8 for a single pour-over or cappuccino. Coffee is an intensely competitive industry, but I couldn’t just sit back and watch this go on.
A phrase that left a lasting impression on me came from a coffee farmer in Antioquia, Colombia. During our conversation about his farm and his livelihood, he said something that fired me up to make a difference for individuals like him. He said, "You see, for us farmers, coffee isn't a venture for profit; it's an endeavor to simply break even."
In addition, both my wife, Maria, and I have a deep connection to coffee. My great-great-grandfather, Don Heraclio Uribe, founded Sevilla, Colombia, which has been largely considered the capital of Coffee in Colombia. When I was a child, I often dried coffee at my grandparent’s farm with my great grandmother Isabel Uribe, and my grandmother, Matilde Rivera. It’s one of the most beautiful childhood memories I have. Maria’s family has been in the restaurant business, buying coffee for over 40 years. These family ties and a strong sense of responsibility also inspired me to start this company and make a difference in Colombia.
Where did the idea for the Farmer Dividend Program™️ originate from?
The Farmer Dividend Program™️ was born from the belief that coffee can be a force for good. We wanted to make a meaningful impact on the lives of coffee farmers in Colombia, so we decided to give back 2% of our revenues and 100% of online customer tips to these hardworking communities. The program's origin lies in our commitment to sustainability, empowerment, and redefining the coffee value chain. When you shop on our website you have the ability to tip the farmer who grew and harvested your coffee beans.
What advice do you have for someone interested in starting a socially conscious business?
My advice is to identify a cause that aligns with your passion and values. Building a socially conscious business requires dedication, research, and a genuine commitment to making a positive impact. Engage with the community you aim to support, be transparent about your mission, and stay resilient. Every small step can lead to significant change.
YGELP imparted valuable insights into sustainable business practices, social entrepreneurship, and responsible leadership. It armed me with the knowledge and inspiration needed to establish a coffee company firmly grounded in positive change.
Did your experience in YGELP impact your work with Love Preferred Coffee Co.? How so?
My experience in YGELP had a big impact on Love Preferred Coffee Co. It aligned perfectly with Yale SOM's values, particularly its mission to educate leaders for business and society. YGELP imparted valuable insights into sustainable business practices, social entrepreneurship, and responsible leadership. It armed me with the knowledge and inspiration needed to establish a coffee company firmly grounded in positive change. Just like Yale SOM, we are driven to build a successful organization that not only thrives but also makes a meaningful difference in the world.
Why did you choose to attend YGELP? Did the experience meet your expectations?
I chose YGELP because of its reputation for fostering responsible business leadership. The experience not only met but exceeded my expectations. YGELP provided a platform to connect with like-minded individuals, learn from world-class faculty, and gain practical insights into creating a socially conscious business. I always felt that YGELP professors and staff made it a point to always keep us at the forefront of relevant and timely discussions.
How would you describe YGELP and its value to someone considering it?
YGELP is a transformative program that empowers individuals to drive positive change through business. It offers a unique blend of academic instruction, real-world application, and a supportive community of peers and mentors. For anyone considering it, YGELP is an opportunity to gain the knowledge, skills, and network needed to make a lasting impact in the world of socially conscious business. If I had the opportunity to attend again, I would!