Ethiopia versus Starbucks: a snapshot of capitalist markets

I read an article (here) about ethiopia and its attempt at capturing more profit from its coffee exports. to sum up, basically the deal is this: coffee is grown there and sold to foreign companies for a tiny price. those companies then value-add to the raw material and sell it for an exponentially higher price.

ethiopia is attempting to use current legal methods by which to secure themselves more of the bounty (that may or may not be due them). Though it is a good attempt, i am not so sure it is going to work, especially since starbucks generates half as much revenue as the entire 27+ million people of ethiopia ($6.4 billion versus $11 billion est. 2005, according to CNN and Worldbank, respectively).

my girlfriend and i ran across a similar story the other day watching vh1. the show was titled, “Bling’d: Blood, Diamonds, and Hip Hop”. you can read about it here. great scene where the hipitty-hoppers are near a hole in the ground filled with water and sediment while the locals try to find diamonds. this tiny crystal appears in one of the hipitty-hoppers hands and he estimates its value at $30-40. i think someone then asks him if he would like to pay that person its value and he balks, of course. “no, no, he says that price would only be after the cut and polishing process.” its value to the local? Maybe one dollar.

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