The Abyssinian Fund: A Mission to Reinvent in the Land of Paradise
Reverend Nicholas S. Richards, President of The Abyssinian Fund and Assistant Minister at Abyssinian Baptist Church, will be honored for his work in Ethiopia for the third annual Hidden Heroes Awards.
Reverend Richards’ mission is to reduce poverty in Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee. Since its inception in 2009, The Abyssinian Fund partners with coffee farmers to help them learn more efficient methods of farming. The training the farmers receive results in the production of a higher quality of coffee that can be sold at a premium rate. This effective system ultimately improves the livelihood of the farmers and their communities as they reinvest the coffee profits into development projects throughout their village.
The devastation Reverend Richards witnessed while visiting Chaffee Jenette, Ethiopia was enough for him to create a plan to help. The community is suffering from a shortage of educational and modern health care facilities and the
lack of clean water sources. Ironically, Chaffee Jenette means “land of paradise” but this land is not like any paradise many of us in the U.S. have experienced. Though they are in need of help, the people of Chaffee Jenette demonstrate the will and desire to change their lives. This change is possible with the help of one of their major exports, coffee and with the training they receive from The Abyssinian Fund.
The Hidden Heroes Award, hosted by The Andrew Goodman Foundation, is to honor, encourage and support this type of effective social activism. Reverend Richards was nominated as a Hidden Hero because he is ambitious, innovative and diligent about giving back. His plan works because coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world so Ethiopia is able to reach international buyers who are willing to pay premium prices for excellent coffee. In America alone more than $40 billion is spent on coffee each year.
Coffee farming is nothing new to Ethiopia; it’s a trade that has been active for more than 200 years. The coffee farmers, who make about $500 per year, tend to the fields using methods they learned passed down from generations before them. Often what they had been taught is outdated especially due to recent changes in climate and a higher, quicker demand for the crop.
The Abyssinian Fund hires field trainers with over 40 years of modern agricultural engineer experience. They teach the farmers new skills and techniques like how to choose the best beans— bright red ones are the most profitable and therefore increasing their yield and income. So far, more than 800 farmers have taken part in the training and as a result, it has had a positive effect on the lives of more than 5,000 Ethiopians.
What’s so unique about The Abyssinian Fund’s mission is that they have a contractual agreement with the farmers that says they must reinvest 10% of their coffee profit into the community. Giving back means building more schools, training doctors in modern health practices and incorporating clean water programs.
The Hidden Heroes awards ceremony will take place at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, NY. Former Mayor David Dinkins will accept a Lifetime Achievement award to be presented by Harry Belafonte, last year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner.
For more information about The Abyssinian Fund and to support our mission please visit www.abyfund.org.