I first met Christian Kar, CEO of the One Cup Project, back in November at a local church conference. I was there with the World Vision Micro team, and Christian was there with his team. One Cup was a new World Vision corporate partner choosing to use its business to fuel hope in other countries -- by making donations from every coffee sale to support our work in Zambia. Together, we were representing the power that donations and personal purchases have on social and economic change in other countries.
I've met with Christian and his team many times since then. Our work together makes us "business partners," but our common goal to help others make us friends. I can vouch that he and his team embody every bit of brilliance and kindness you feel from their emails. They represent the spirit of an entrepreneur with the compassion of a humanitarian. They make One Cup's mission -- to tell a different story about business -- personal, believable, and contagious. It makes you want to join their team in their pursuit to change people's purchasing choices, one cup at a time.
Lindsey (L): Where does your coffee story begin?
Christian (C): I've been intensely focused on building a coffee enterprise since I was 19. You could say I didn’t choose coffee -- it chose me. I was sort of at the right place at the right time, and while I didn’t set out to be in coffee, I loved the people side of the business and grew to love coffee as well. The coffee business brought me out of my shell. I started with retail, then began roasting, and the business grew steadily year over year. Success seemed to come easy.
L: At the height of your coffee enterprise success, what was "game-changer" in dreaming up the One Cup Project?
C: My wife and I both surrendered our lives to Christ shortly after the 9/11 attacks. We both knew in our souls that all was not right in the world. As my faith began to mature over the next few years, I asked myself, "Is this it? Am I just going to be the coffee guy for 20 more years?" Then God planted the “seed” for the One Cup Project. In 2007, I went on a short-term missions trip to Kenya. God had laid Africa on my heart for reasons I can’t understand. I went, and my eyes were opened.