In 2019, David Behrends, head of Trading and Managing Partner at Sucafina, founded and launched Farmer Connect, a blockchain-based end-to-end transparent solution for the coffee trading industry. Following its successful launch, the tool needs to scale, which means bringing the whole coffee ‘ecosystem’ on board, analyzing the future structure of Farmer Connect in relation to Sucafina, resolving issues of fundraising and partnerships, as well as incorporating key learnings from a 2020 pilot in Brazil. The case follows the intrapreneurial journey of David, Farmer Connect and Sucafina. It puts managers in the driving seat, asking them to reflect on what it means to create value through innovation, and to disrupt an industry using technology to create positive social impact.
This case is designed to be taught in Master’s in Management, MBA and Executive MBA sessions. The concept underpinning ‘from traders to changemakers’ is that disruption is no longer limited to certain industries but has become the norm as the result of innovation, even in traditional industries like commodity trading. When it comes to mitigating the effects of disruption on their business model, managers are still learning how innovation and digital transformation may impact the overall industry, notably increasing transparency and adding value throughout the value chain. The case highlights how technology can be a force for good. For managers, the key questions are about how to foster ‘intrapreneurship’ within their organization, how to structure new initiatives once they start to grow, how to ensure fundraising, strategic alignment and skill sets in an evolving environment, and then provide strategic direction through the changes that consumers, employees and industries require.
- commodity trading
- digital transformation
- value chain
- Farmer Connect