Winthrop Rockefeller Institute serving Westrock Coffee products

Buying local and supporting a great business model never tasted so good.

The Winthrop Rockefeller Institute recently switched all of its coffee products to Westrock Coffee, a Little Rock-based business that perpetuates sustainable business opportunities in Rwanda, Tanzania, and other parts of Africa. All coffee and tea stations at the Institute are now stocked with Westrock products.

“This move is a win on so many fronts,” said Joel Smith, general manager for conference services at the Institute. “We’re proud to be buying a product from a strong Arkansas-based company. And that company is a great example of a social enterprise, a concept we’ve supported through programming for several years.

“Plus, it’s just really great coffee.”

Since 2009, Westrock Coffee Company has created several programs to promote a sustainable and healthy lifestyle for their partnering farmers, including hands-on agronomy training, nutritional programs and clean water initiatives for their families and communities. Employees at origin are provided with sanitation, clean water, health benefits, financial management and a salary above market. With the firm belief that transparent trade, not aid, is the cornerstone to long-term sustainability, Westrock is already seeing improved social and environment standards within these partnering communities.

“Westrock Coffee is proud to partner with the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, and to work alongside them in the local platform that they have provided for the promotion of ideas that can affect social change on a variety of fronts,” said Todd Brogdon, CEO of Westrock Coffee. “We look forward to not only being an audience at the Rockefeller Institute for these ideas, but also being given the opportunity to discuss the real change that Westrock Coffee has been able to see in working with farming communities across Eastern Africa. The Rockefeller Institute has helped to provide a venue for enterprises like Westrock to spark public discussion about the overarching mission and vision of our company.”

Brogdon brought his expertise in social enterprise – using sound business practices to drive positive social change – to a 2013 panel discussion on social entrepreneurship hosted by the Institute and the Clinton School of Public Service. Brogdon also served as a speaker and mentor at the Institute’s Social Entrepreneurship Boot Camp.