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Coffee for a cause: Local nonprofit coffee shop gives back to community where their coffee comes from

Owner of Growers Alliance Martin Kabaki moved to the U.S. from Kenya about 20 years ago and saw an opportunity to help coffee farmers in his homeland.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — The American dream is alive on the First Coast in a cup of Joe. 

The owner of Growers Alliance coffee shop in St. Augustine immigrated to America about 20 years ago from Kenya. Martin Kabaki grew up on a coffee farm there. 

When he immigrated to America, he worked as a dishwasher at Panera Bread and saw how much Americans loved coffee. 

“Most of the coffee growers back home are very poor. Here I am in American and Americans love coffee. Why is there a disconnect?" Kabaki said. "I said to myself I am going to do whatever it takes to start a company in the U.S. that sells coffee.”

He did that. He and his wife have been running Growers Alliance for 10 years and for the past three years they've been in their brick-and-mortar store that fills the space of a former Texaco gas station in St. Augustine. 

You can find them behind the counter making Kenyan coffee for customers. They also sell African crafts and samosas. 

Growers Alliance is exactly what it sounds like. It's an alliance of coffee farmers from Kabaki's hometown, Naivasha. He ships the coffee to America to sell at his shop. Then he invests part of the money back into Naivasha.

He says many there do not have access to clean water.

‘We’ve been digging water wells out on the villages. That is the number one (goal)," he said. "Number two is most of the people in the villages do not have access to basic medical services.”

Kabaki and his family have also opened a dialysis clinic in Naivasha. They are now working toward opening up a fully functioning hospital to serve the village.

The Growers Alliance Facebook page reads "We are excited to announce that through a generous donation from Project C.U.R.E. the Kijiji Medical Center will be expanding into a full-fledged hospital in a new facility that is located just outside of the town of Naivasha!"

"Project C.U.R.E. has filled two shipping containers with critical medical equipment and supplies to send to Naivasha, Kenya. These containers will allow Kijiji Medical Center to offer M.R.I. and C.T. Scans, dental care, eye care, mammography, cervical cancer screenings, X-rays, ultrasounds along with equipping a maternity wing, lab, and pharmacy!"

Kabaki explains that the 40-foot shipping containers cost $30,000 to ship and transport to Naivasha and then install the machines once they are there. They have started a Go Fund Me page to raise money to make this happen.

You can check out the Go Fund Me page here

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