After countless turns, muddy roads, and steep inclines, we arrived at a small, wooden hut on the side of the mountain where we were warmly greeted by eight farmers. To the right of the small hut sat a rickety old bamboo platform where low quality coffee beans were sent to die under the hot Thai sun. Meg and I slowly climbed out of the back of Tom's small pickup truck, grabbed our belongings, awkwardly "wai'd" (bowed), and quietly muttered a sawadee (hello) to the many new faces surrounding us.
Every day until this point was eventful to us, but this was a day that we will never forget because this day made the partnership between KJC and the farmers official. Doon quickly sat down on the bamboo platform pictured above, and I immediately began to question the structural integrity of this platform but figured when in Rome (well, Thailand). Even though the only thing between me and the drop off below was uncomfortably thin bamboo, I was distracted by the picture-esque mountains, the gentle faces of the farmers, and the realization that this was the first step of many on the path to creating a new future for the farmers and this business.
I nervously opened the folder that held our document and slowly explained that this guaranteed farmers higher wages and the opportunity to share their passion with coffee lovers 8,000 miles away in America. Words were exchanged, signatures were signed, and we were no longer strange foreigners from a distant land, yet we were partners sharing the same goal. A goal of making a name for Thai coffee, reducing our carbon footprint, and creating opportunities within the hilltribe village.
During my four years in business school I never imagined that my first business "deal" would happen on a 5,000 foot mountain sitting on a rickety old bamboo platform overlooking the jungles of Thailand, but I couldn't be more proud working with such a hardworking and passionate group of people who speak a language I do not know .
So what if my corner office is made of bamboo?