En­tre­pre­neur: Jerry Kapka of Kongo Cof­fee Ltd


When Jerry Kapka be­gan his work­ing life as a teacher, he never an­tic­i­pated that one day he would own one of Pa­pua New Guinea’s lead­ing cof­fee com­pa­nies, writes Sonja Hey­de­man.

In 1999, Jerry Kapka es­tab­lished Kongo Cof­fee Ltd, which is now Simbu Prov­ince’s premier cof­fee com­pany, with a strong ex­port mar­ket. Cof­fee grow­ing now pro­vides liveli­hoods for an es­ti­mated 300,000 peo­ple in Simbu.

‘The ma­jor ex­port des­ti­na­tion is Ger­many, fol­lowed by the United States, Ja­pan and Aus­tralia,’ Kapka tells Made in PNG.

To keep up with international de­mand, Kongo Cof­fee is now in the fi­nal stages of com­plet­ing its new pro­cess­ing line and up­grad­ing its ex­ist­ing line.

‘This will give us the big­gest, best and most mod­ern cof­fee mill in PNG, do­ing eight tonnes per hour,’ he says.

Kapka pre­dicts the up­graded fa­cil­i­ties will in­crease ex­port vol­ume from around 3600 tonnes to over 7000 tonnes an­nu­ally.

Kongo Cof­fee’s turnover is de­pen­dent on international prices. In 2011, prices were high, with turnover surg­ing to K50 mil­lion (US$23 mil­lion), while a drop in 2013 saw turnover re­duced to around K30 mil­lion (US$14 mil­lion).

Sat­is­fied cus­tomers

One of Kongo Cof­fee’s ma­jor buy­ers is the Ham­burg Cof­fee Com­pany, on board since 1999. The Ger­man com­pany’s main fo­cus is PNG’s stan­dard small­holder-grown prod­uct, known as Y-Grade.

Ham­burg Cof­fee Com­pany’s Se­nior Trader Michael Lack­ner says he be­lieves his com­pany opened up the mar­ket for Kongo Cof­fee, and the re­la­tion­ship with Kapka has thrived.

‘He’s al­ways per­formed 100% ac­cord­ing to the con­tracts … after 13 years, it’s a very good re­la­tion­ship … He’s such a great, hon­ourable and trust­wor­thy per­son and that’s what this business is all about,’ says Lack­ner.

Sole provider

As the ma­jor and only ac­tive cof­fee com­pany in Simbu Prov­ince, Kongo Cof­fee has an im­por­tant role in bring­ing cash to lo­cal peo­ple through its com­mit­ment to pay­ing the high­est pos­si­ble prices to its grow­ers.

Kapka cred­its his abil­ity to stay fo­cused as a key to his en­dur­ing business suc­cess:

‘I’ve al­ways con­cen­trated on cof­fee and I think this has taken Kongo Cof­fee to where it is now,’ he re­flects.

Sonja Hey­de­man is a free­lance jour­nal­ist with an in­ter­est in the Pa­cific.

A range of Kongo Cof­fee prod­ucts

Jerry Kapka of Kongo Cof­fee

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