Which came first? It's the question that people have been asking about chickens and eggs forever. It is also one of the toughest questions to answer with trying to get a coffee business established in South East Asia. And I think the reason why it is so difficult is because I'm an American.
As an American, I'm used to having an orderly system. If I want to do something, I can just punch a question into a search engine, follow a few steps and then I'm ready to go. Even complicated things like starting a nonprofit or fixing a computer can be done with some research and a little hard work. But things in the developing world aren't as neat and orderly. In many ways, it is still the Wild West out here. Laws aren't really written down here (and if they are written down, they are rarely enforced). There is little oversight, lots of corruption and people in power hold the keys to everything. When I meet with a government official here I literally sit down across the table from the law.
Two of our biggest goals this year have been to start a business that allows us to get farmer's coffee directly to America and to find some land in a village to start a training farm. Since we live in the Wild West and can't speak the language all that well, trying to meet these goals has involved A LOT of asking people here what to do. It would make sense that first we start the business and then acquire the land, however that isn't the case. After asking several locals, expats who have started businesses and government officials we were told that we are required to have land to register a business. However, we also have to have a business to acquire the land. So which comes first?
As an American, this stresses me out. I like to have a plan, make a budget and have a to-do list. I can also overthink things just a little bit. Fortunately I work with Luv-Luv who is from a developing country, rarely overthinks anything and has the life motto of "Bro, relax five minutes." He helps balance me out.
So after months of researching, meetings and asking questions about land and business we realized that we just need to make it happen. We shouldn't shouldn't worry about the order of things. As with the chicken and the egg, it happened and the details don't really matter.
Over the past month we have finalized a long-term contract for some land in the village to start a training farm. It is amazing how things came together for the land and I'll try to write a post next week telling the story.