Tebabu Assefa, Sara Mussie Brief Congress on Benefit Corp for Africa

Tebabu Assefa and Sara Mussie. (Photo: Maryland State Arts Council)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: September 10th, 2017

New York (TADIAS) – The husband and wife team of Tebabu Assefa and Sara Mussie who are owners of Blessed Coffee — one of America’s first Benefit Corporations — are scheduled to brief Congress this week on their Maryland-based socially responsible and grassroots business model that can be used to improve business-to-business and people-to-people relations with Africa.

Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD-8) and the founders of US-Africa Diaspora Business Council (US-ADBC) are hosting the Congressional Briefing, which is “organized to present the Benefit Corporation for Africa Initiative (BCAI) to policy makers, the African Diplomatic Group, international development organizations, U.S. & U.S.-African Diaspora business leaders and the media,” the press release said. “In 2010, Maryland became the first state to pass legislation enabling businesses to register as Benefit Corporations, a new class of corporation that is explicitly formed to create a positive material impact on society and the environment. Congressman Raskin, then the MD State Senator, authored the legislation. To date, more than 31 states, including New York and California, have enacted similar legislation.”

Tebabu and Sara’s venture, which we featured here exactly six years ago this month, was founded in 2011 and is the nation’s second Benefit Corporation. Blessed Coffee (BC) is “based on a farmer to your cup direct market link that is geared towards development in coffee growing regions in Ethiopia, as well as in communities in the U.S. where the coffee is sold. As such, BC offers investment and profit sharing partnership to 323,000 coffee farmers in Ethiopia (representing over 1.5 million families), organized under a small coffee famers cooperative union,” the briefing announcement said.

This past Spring Tebabu and Sara’s work were also praised by US Senator Ben Cardin during the US Senate Foreign Relation Committee Hearing on Private Sector Engagement in International Development held on May 7th, 2017. In a 2016 interview with Bethesda Magazine, Congressman Raskin noted, “Blessed Coffee embodies everything a Benefit Corporation strives to be…It is a totally locally rooted business with an international conscientiousness devoted to community, but also devoted to the excellence of its product.”

The upcoming Congressional briefing announcement adds: “Tebabu and Sara titled and branded their dynamic social business as Virtuous Exchange (VE) – better than Fair Trade. US-African immigrant communities have massive untapped human and financial resources to positively impact social and economic development in Africa. Tebabu & Sara’s core conviction is that VE can leverage the power of Benefit Corporations and social businesses to achieve economic, social and environmental development in Africa and the U.S.”

Tebabu and Sara have received several awards, including the 2012 “Champions of Change” honor from the Obama administration, several Congressional citations from members of the U.S. Congress, the 2017 Green Business Award from Bethesda Magazine and the 2014 Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award from StartUpAfrica.

If You Go:
12:00 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, Rayburn HOB, Room S 215, 45 Independence Ave, SW Washington DC

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