Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jamil Hallasso, Co-Founder of Inmaculada Coffee Farms, located in Cali, Colombia.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are a specialty coffee producer near Cali, Colombia, in the mountains of Pichindé. We produce special and exotic varieties such as Laurina, Geisha, Sudan Rume, and Eugenioides. We also have a social program where we buy coffee from other farmers, paying them a bonus over market prices. Our customers are green coffee buyers, from wholesalers all the way to small roasteries all over the world. We supply our coffees to the USA, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Our coffees have been recognized worldwide thru Barista and Brewers Championships over the past couple of years.
Tell us about yourself
My family started this business in 2010, and I started getting involved in 2014 without any knowledge of coffee or agriculture. My field is Finance. During COVID, I had the chance to live at the farm and work hands-on, doing strategies and creating new ideas to expand the company’s horizon.
When I realized the quality of coffee we were producing and the recognition we were having, I started digging to understand why and how. What motivates me the most is that there are so many opportunities in coffee from so many angles and all over the world. Additionally, we were able to create an amazing group of workers who lifts you up every single morning with smiles and the best attitudes! There’s nothing like working around people like that.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Since we plant special varieties under normal, natural conditions, we can expect a sudden loss in production which has happened to us in 2021 and 2022. We lost 70% of our production, and when that happens without any possibility of regaining that production quickly, you are basically doomed. Instead of just closing operations, we found a great opportunity in that moment of crisis, and that is when our Fellows Program got created. We were able to increase our product offerings by buying coffee from other farmers, always with a social and economic benefit to them, which is in the DNA and philosophy of our family and company, thus giving life to our company, giving a better lifestyle to our workers and our new Fellow coffee producers and of course our end customer.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The hardest thing is when you face a crisis that is out of your hands, just like the one we did in 2021 and 2022. You realize that there are many people who rely on you. We employ over 60 workers who are hardworking, honest and have a huge love for Inmaculada, and those workers have families who depend on them. This is the hardest thing for us as a family and as business owners. We need to make sure those people can have a better lifestyle, give better education to their children and enjoy life without worrying.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don’t be afraid to fail but make sure you learn from it and make sure you are able to shift quickly. Failing without a solution or without learning from it is just giving up.
- Surround yourself with people better than you. It’s intimidating sometimes, but that’s how you learn.
- Accept that you don’t know. Say you will try. Don’t be afraid to try. Try and be ready to receive the results and analyze them to make them better next time.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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