Nicolas A. Tamari – the CEO of Sucafina, has seen the Company grow and develop since his childhood. He finds strength through the continuous support that Sucafina provides to people by trying to positively change their lives when it can.
While Sucafina trades over 300,000 tons of coffee annually, family members regard themselves more as change makers rather than salespeople.
“I have the most amazing job in the world. Coffee isn’t just a product, it’s a value chain, and it’s a livelihood and a future for millions of people. We constantly try to change the lives of smallholder coffee farmers by providing them with access to electricity, more diversified nutrition, better education as well as improved health and hygiene conditions. This, by far, is more important than any money we could give them. It is even the beginning of a new life and this all thanks to coffee.” said Mr. Tamari.
Today, with more than 850 employees in 24 countries, the Family business is a leading player in the world of green, roasted, and instant coffee merchanting.
“We’ve been in the business for over 100 years and we have a profound knowledge of the supply chain, in which the most important actor for us is the farmer. Today, coffee plays a crucial role in the lives of millions of people who live below the poverty line and for whom coffee is the main source of income. We create partnerships to empower the farmer and the next generation.”
Sucafina creates long-term relationships with 178,000 grower partners by providing them with know-how on technology, educating them on when it is the best moment to sell the coffee, and giving them access to fertilizers and new agricultural techniques and good practices.
“We have several agronomists all over the world at Sucafina, who travel from country to country sharing our best practices,” noted the CEO.
A 49-year-old father of three children who hold the Swiss and Brazilian passports, Mr. Tamari confirms that Brazil is one of the most important coffee producers for Sucafina.
“If you want to understand the coffee market, you need to understand the situation in Brazil.”
Brazil is by far the world’s largest coffee producer. In 2016, Brazil produced staggering 2,595,000 metric tons of coffee beans. This was not surprising to Brazil as the country has always been the highest global producer of coffee beans for over 150 years.
“We recently made investments in Brazil by buying factories. We strongly believe in Brazil and are very confident that real economic growth will return soon.”
In its efforts to make the farmers’ lives better, Sucafina founded the Kahawatu Foundation – a not-for-profit organization, in 2012, with a mission to improve the productivity and the livelihoods of smallholder coffee farmers.
“In East Africa, especially in countries such as Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi, often farmers who are located in a rural off-grid area do not have electricity at home. Today, we are committed to providing our partnered farmers with solar panels that allow them to have 3 ball-lights, in addition to a phone charger. During the day, the panels absorb the energy that, in turn, can be used at night. This is a huge improvement in their quality of life.”
With such a keen ambition to improve the farmers’ living conditions- which has been running in the Family over several generations, Mr. Tamari a marathon runner, full of energy, positive attitude, and enthusiasm, will not stop here. He is going next month to follow an executive education in Boston.
“We are always learning. Coffee’s journey is very long: the market opens in Vietnam and closes in California. It is nearly a 24-hour working day work, and it never stops,” he said, mentioning that for those who want to get into the commodity market and are willing to work hard, the University of Geneva has one of the best Commodity Trading Master programs in the world.
Another one of Nicolas´s beliefs runs deep within the third generation of Sucafina:
“We are committed to our people. We have within Sucafina a program called “Sparks”. Every year, up to five talented people across the group, whose age ranges from 25 to 35 years old, participate in an intensive mentoring program, either with an outside resource from Harvard Business School or a director from Sucafina itself. Each of the participants has his/her own mentor who will share with the participant his/her best practices and experience.”
Mr. Tamari believes that investing in people is one of the main factors that make Sucafina a successful family company since its establishment 100 years ago.
“The family has always focused on its people out of an entrepreneurial mindset. We have always looked for a change, embraced new ideas and promoted our best talents,” said Mr. Tamari.
“On average, I spend about 4 to 5 months yearly traveling, visiting our coffee producers and listening to our clients. In the remaining months, I stay at the trading headquarters in Geneva where I hold meetings with strategic people within the organization, in order to ensure that we are on the right track to reach our 2025 vision.” After saying this, the successful CEO proudly showed us Sucafina’s 2025 vision as displayed all over the entrance walls inside the Head Office in Geneva: “Be the leading sustainable ‘Farm to Roaster’ coffee company in the world.”
By Daniela Mendez
Member Board of Directors – CHamBR