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).
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.
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