Virtue signalling for Africa

I received an email from Nespresso?a few days ago. The headline asked, Can gender equality enhance the quality of your coffee?”End quote.

Of course not. How ridiculous. How on Earth could gender equality have anything to do with the quality of coffee?

But, it seems I am wrong. Or at least, Nespresso think so. Quote:

At?Nespresso, we believe that quality does not happen by chance, but by choice. We knew that advancing gender equality would have a significant impact on the coffee we produce. For this reason we invested in female agronomists to enhance the quality of your coffee, cup after cup. End of quote.

What garbage. Advancing gender equality does not make a cup of coffee taste better. Quote:

Ethiopia sure has a lot to thank their women agronomists for. They?re working with coffee farmers to improve their crops, which are now doing so well that some of the farmers have been able to move from traditional huts to better quality houses, send their children to school and buy cows, which help diversify income. With?Nespresso?s support, 37 of Ethiopia?s 105 TechnoServe-trained agronomists are now women. Not only are these remarkable women improving the gender gap, they?re an inspiration to other women. We speak to some of these coffee champions. End of quote.

Now, this is actually good news. Don’t get me wrong. I think it is great that African women are being promoted in business. This is not only good for women, but it is also good for their communities. Here are a couple of examples. Quote:


One of the coffee farmers Abinet trained has earned enough to build a house that?s the envy of the local community. He also sends his children to private school.

Thanks to her salary, Abinet can send her children to private school, too. She?s also the only woman in her village who owns a motorbike, which she hires out.


All the farmers Abinet trains are now producing such fantastic coffee that their co-operative has been able to invest in community projects, including classrooms.

?It?s so satisfying,? said Abinet of her job. ?Coffee agronomy is a practical thing, where you can see the results. The farmers are satisfied and happy.? End of quote.

These are great stories, and it is very good to hear of African communities that are benefitting from the coffee they produce. It is also good to hear that the quality of the coffee being produced in these villages is so high. It is a win-win situation for everyone.

But none of this has anything to do with the fact that the agronomists are women. Most of the success is due to the fact that the agronomists are trained. They have received training from TechnoServe, an international non-profit organisation that promotes business solutions to third-world countries to help combat poverty. In Ethiopia, TechnoServe is working with Nespresso to build a coffee sector that is sustainable and profitable for local farmers.

Heartwarming stuff. Seriously, these are great stories. TechnoServe and Nespresso should be justifiably proud of their achievements. They produce great coffee too, which means it is more than a hole to pour money into in the developing world, unlike so many other projects.

Why did Nespresso have to spoil an otherwise great story by virtue signalling?

It isn’t even accurate: 37 women out of 105 agronomists is not equality. It is 35%. Not even close.

But that doesn’t matter. TechnoServe and Nespresso are helping communities in Ethiopia to help themselves, by giving training and support to take part in one of the largest industries in the world. Everybody benefits. They should be very proud of their achievements.

Enough of the virtue signalling though. It is great that some of the agronomists are women. But, the fact that they are women really does not make the coffee any better.