"The climate crisis will inevitably destroy coffee crops"
UPF Barcelona School of Management alumni Mauhoobah Mardhiyyah is Communications Specialist at Ulinzi Conservation Coffee (UCC). She graduated from the Master of Arts in Communication Management at UPF Barcelona School of Management in 2020. Now, from Kenya, at UCC, they sell specialty Kenyan coffee and share 50% of their profits with Ulinzi Africa Foundation, which funds ranger operations at the Tana River Delta in Kenya.
What have you been doing (career wise) since you graduated from UPF-BSM?
It is safe to say that I have been quite busy since I graduated from UPF-BSM. I first redesigned the website of Viewfinders Kenya Ltd as a communications consultant. I later joined Ulinzi Conservation Coffee as communications specialist and currently freelancing for Spring Valley Coffee too.
My experience at UPF-BSM changed me in many ways. Most importantly, I gained core skills related to social networking sites management
What is Ulinzi Conservation Coffee and what do you do there?
Ulinzi Conservation Coffee (UCC) is an organization that funds wildlife ranger operations and reforestation in Kenya, through the sale of high quality specialty Kenyan coffee. The coffee is locally sourced from Kenya through Spring Valley Coffee. 50% of UCC’s profits are donated to Ulinzi Africa Foundation, who in turn train and empower Kenyan rangers to better protect Kenya’s wildlife. Oftentimes, we forget that our rangers are our frontliners in the fight against wildlife poaching. We need to support them as much as we can, to be able to protect our endangered wildlife. I work as a communications specialist, which means I create content to be disseminated on social media and other online and offline formats. I also liaise with influencers and other parties that are involved in promoting the brand and its cause.
What did you learn in UPF-BSM that you apply to your current job?
There is a lot that can be said about this. My experience at UPF-BSM changed me in many ways. Most importantly, I gained core skills related to social networking sites management, from research and analysis to strategy development. In addition to theoretical knowledge, I was trained in search engine optimization, which is another skill I use for my projects. There are many other courses that I completed that have shaped the way I think, write, and respond to various elements of communication; be it a crisis or a five-year plan.
I believe in using my skills in communication to contribute to achieving the sustainable development goals in order to create a safer and healthier environment for future generations.
What are the current and challenges in the coffee market? is it true that in a few years coffee will disappear if we do not fight climate change?
The coronavirus pandemic had a ripple effect on many businesses including cafés and restaurants. Closure of such business meant that the demand for coffee fell. Having said that, we hope that the hospitality sector begins to pick itself up as the global vaccination drive continues. The inability of farmers to adapt to climate change is one of the biggest challenge that is facing the coffee industry today. In July this year, hundreds of thousands of Arabica coffee crops in Brazil were destroyed in large numbers due to unusual extreme cold weather. This destruction led to a sharp rise in prices. Today, it is frost that destroyed Brazil’s crops. Tomorrow it could be drought that destroys Ethiopia’s crops. The quality of a coffee bean is heavily dependent on the climate. A change in climate could lead to a change in the quality. The climate crisis will inevitably destroy not just coffee crops, but many others. There is definitely an urgent need to stop climate change where it is now.
How do you see your future in a few years?
I see myself working with organizations that contribute to climate change action and wildlife conservation. Because what is life without the beautiful wildlife that surrounds us? What is life without fresh air to breathe in? I believe in using my skills in communication to contribute to achieving the sustainable development goals in order to create a safer and healthier environment for future generations. I plan to do this by creating a narrative that drives change, through writing, photography and documentaries. The power is in our hands!