Entrepreneurs: Jerry Kapka of Kongo Coffee Ltd

Welcome,

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

Jerry Kapka, CEO, Kongo Koffe

Jerry Kapka of Kongo Coffee

Throughout the 1990s, Kapka started to buy and sell coffee, purely for supplementary income. He contended with numerous obstacles, receiving little initial interest from growers, traversing poor roads and having only basic  communications.

However, by 1999 Kapka’s determination saw him establish Kongo Coffee Ltd, which is now Simbu’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 U.S, Japan and Australia,’ Kapka, the company;s Chief Executive Officer, tells Business Advantage 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.

International prices

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 2012 saw turnover reduced to just over K20 million (US$9 million). This year, the company forecasts results of around K30 million (US$14 million).

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One of Kongo Coffee’s major buyers is the Hamburg Coffee Company, onboard 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 percent according to the contracts …  after 13 years, it’s a very good relationship – it’s mutual trust. He’s such a great, honourable and trustworthy person and that’s what this business is all about,’ says Lackner.

Lackner says he has a continuing dialogue with Kapka about industry developments.

‘We try to suggest to him and guide him when there’s something new coming up he needs to be aware of and, on the other side, if I need a good update on the current situation in PNG, I ask his advice. It’s give and take,’ Lackner explains.

Training 

Kongo Coffee’s operations in rural and village settings makes bringing qualified and experienced people on board difficult, therefore increasing the need for solid training.

Elimbari Coffee Sign Board_web

A Kongo Coffee sign providing growers with detailed instructions on how to achieve the highest prices for their coffee beans.

Kapka’s dedication to quality requires his workers to undergo on-the-job training, and also to access external opportunities. A human resources manager has recently been employed to assist with management and training.

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.

Comments

  1. Yues Jacob Dane says

    Kongo Coffee Brand Name has fine quality attributes to make a global impact in the coffee business. It needs sound marketing drive to move the passion.
    Keep driving

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