SPARC Development…fighting poverty with wine!

Welcome to SPARC Development’s blog!  We look forward to sharing, with you, our journey to establish a high-quality, poverty-fighting wine industry in Ethiopia!

“Poverty-fighting wine industry??” you say.  Confused?

Don’t worry, most people react the same way.  Let me give you some background.

The History

This project began when Stephen Satterfield, the co-founder of International Society for Africans in Wine (ISAW), read an article about winemaking in Ethiopia. Curious about the possibility of a successful wine industry in Ethiopia, Stephen shared this information with Professor Peter Roberts at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School (GBS). As a wine economist and professor of social enterprise, Roberts was naturally intrigued and formed a team of business school students who spent a semester researching the feasibility of establishing a wine industry that was both of high-quality and focused on alleviating poverty.

In the November 2010, the research team released the results of their study.  The team concluded that in addition to the government and private sector interest, the latent market demand, appropriate growing conditions, and general economic environment create a landscape where a high-quality wine industry can not only exist, but flourish in Ethiopia.  With coordinated efforts and targeted external support, Ethiopian farmers can potentially quadruple their earnings within six years of starting to grow grapes.

Yes, quadruple…that’s 4 times the amount that farmers could earn versus planting other crops from just a ¼ hectare plot!

The only impediments that exist to increasing the earning potential of Ethiopian farmers and introducing new, high-quality wines to the world are (1) limited financing (2) lack of industry knowledge (3) difficulties with market access.

Enter SPARC Development

Upon hearing the team’s findings and after a few conversations with Professor Roberts, it became more and more evident that the resources needed to overcome the impediments mentioned above are readily available in the US and in Africa.

Why on Earth would we not try to match those resources with this promising opportunity in Ethiopia?

Furthermore, with the rise of social enterprise programs in business schools, how often to other similar ideas that have the potential to address global poverty go overlooked and not acted upon?

With 2.5 billion of the world’s population still living on less than $2 a day, that’s simply unacceptable.

Thus, SPARC Development was born with the intent to build a network of financial, human, and market resources that will be matched with market-based opportunities to alleviate poverty across the world.

And what could be a more exciting first project than establish a high-quality, poverty-fighting wine industry in Ethiopia?  So, here we are…a group comprised of business school graduates (well, almost), a professor, viticulturists, and winemaking experts dedicated to transforming what was just an idea into reality.  We’re kind of like a global matchmaker for alleviating poverty across the world.

Stay tuned to learn more about SPARC’s grand plan to fight poverty with wine in Ethiopia…trust me, it’s a good one! – Sandhya


2 thoughts on “SPARC Development…fighting poverty with wine!

  1. Sandhya,
    I am a freelance journalist, and I am looking to come to Ethiopia to research the nascent wine industry there. Some web research led me here, and I am very intrigued! I would love to get in touch with you and come see the work you’ve done in Ethiopia. I wish to visit the new Castel winery you’ve mentioned, and I would like to write about your work using the wine industry development as a poverty-alleviating tool. I want to help you get the word out!

    I am in Uganda for the time being, and I plan on coming to Ethiopia for all of November. It would be a pleasure to meet with Ethiopia’s finest new vintners!

    Peter Lund

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