In this Perspective piece, we hear from familiar face Ben Higgins, perhaps best known as the television personality and lead on ABC’s hit show “The Bachelor.” An accomplished entrepreneur, Ben also recently authored the nonfiction book Alone in Plain Sight, published by HarperCollins. Here Ben shares the story of his travels to Honduras, which laid the groundwork for his social impact company Generous Coffee.
I’ll always remember my trip to Honduras after we decided to start Generous Coffee in 2017. I was with my best friend Riley Fuller, founder of Humanity & Hope United. We had no idea what we were doing and very little idea of who we were meeting with. We had a security guard protecting us in what has been deemed “one of the world’s most dangerous countries.”
We didn’t know what a coffee plant looked like either. Thankfully during our first tour of the first farm we had ever visited, our partner was the gentleman who had won Barista of the Year the previous year, so there were very few people in the world who knew more about coffee than him. We felt entirely out of our league, yet truly fortunate.
Despite all we didn’t know, it all felt right.
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Before starting Generous Coffee in 2017, we had already spent over a decade traveling and working in Honduras, implementing programs like partnering with entrepreneurs to create jobs and with parents to send more kids to school, providing healthcare to uninsured people, building houses and schools, creating much-needed infrastructure to provide electricity and clean water and more.
By 2017 we had learned a little grit, working in a country that was still unknown to us. Honduras is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever seen: lush green mountainsides, rushing rivers and miles and miles of untouched forest. For as a beautiful as Honduras is, there is also a rough side to it; there is tremendous injustice placed on the people that call it home. As we tried to navigate through that complexity and still build the programs we had set out to build, we had fallen down more than once and ran into so many obstacles that we had actually grown to like being the underdog. So the kickoff to our first ever Generous Coffee trip actually felt a lot like home. We decided to trust the process.
A lot had transpired from that first Generous Coffee trip. We started a company that empowers women around the world, pays coffee farmers generously and have donated over $60,000 to charity. We visited the most amazing property we’ve ever seen — a several thousand-acre private farm so big that it has an entire village on the property working to take care of it. We saw a 100-foot private waterfall that only coffee farmers get to witness. We went on an adventure we will never forget, and one so incredible, we took groups of 20-plus people back on Generous Adventures in 2018 and 2019. I created some of my best memories.
Most importantly, genuine relationships built on trust were created, with people who, in any time other than the last 100 years, we would never have crossed paths to meet. I am still close friends with many of the people from that first Generous Coffee trip. Darwin, our security guard, is one of my best friends in the world. He works full-time for Humanity & Hope, Generous’ sister nonprofit, and is one of the most hardcore justice warriors I have ever met. He fights for people like no one else I have ever seen, and when you invest in Generous you invest in him, and in colleagues and friends like him. Day in and day out Darwin works tirelessly with rural communities to create dozens of jobs, build houses and schools, provide clean water and electricity — you name it.
Ramon, who has been in charge of exporting some of our coffee from Honduras for a company called Becamo, is still a great friend as well. After meeting on that initial Generous Coffee trip, we partnered on a program called Coffee Kids, where Generous paid Ramon’s company an extra premium that went directly to the coffee farmers who were at risk of losing their coffee farms, and their homes. The funds offered the farmers financing so they could keep their properties from being foreclosed by the bank.
After two hurricanes and floods hit last November, I connected Ramon with another friend of mine and together they distributed 1,000 water filters to coffee farmers affected by the storm.
Relationships like the ones I am privileged to have with Darwin and Ramon, both personally and professionally, are what I value most. At first glance, and even on paper, we are very different people. I’m white; Ramon and Darwin have darker skin. We hold different passports, speak different native languages. But we see each other as brothers. As life has brought us together, we’ve realized that what truly connects us is our desire to fight together for basic justices, like kids going to school, adults having jobs, healthcare for all, dignified housing, access to food and clean water and a hope that tomorrow can be better than today.
On that first Generous Coffee trip, we could have easily quit before we began. I’m glad we didn’t. I discovered the ethos of Generous on that journey — generosity in spirit. And I built life changing, authentic relationships with people who are so uniquely different than me, and together, we’re changing the world.