The son of a coffee farmer, Cedieu Joseph studied accountancy at Université Adventiste, knowing that if he were to start his own business in the future, the single most important element in ensuring its survival would be financial know-how.
With the aim of helping farmers like his father to help themselves, Joseph went on to study development science and tourism economics, culminating in training in co-operative management with experts in Nicaragua and the US – believing these were the skills he would need for success.
That instinct served Joseph well. When he returned to his native Dondon, he began to work with Coopérative Gabart Le Vaillant, which was established in 1955 and was well known as one of the most productive in the country when it came to coffee – exporting between 50 and 70 thousand pounds of it a year to the United States and Canada.
The co-operative, however, had had financial problems over the years, and using his accountancy expertise, Joseph, now at the helm, set about placing it on more solid foundations – so that it now funds a programme of local development, with a new primary school already completed.
This co-operative started in 1955 with just 15 members and today it has 1,250, 40 percent of whom are women. As Joseph points out: that is an enormous vote of confidence by the local community –and a practical lesson in the benefits of collaboration.