Inclusive Digitalization: Catalyst of Growth for People and Business

Inclusive digital transformation is about people. It ensures that everyone can contribute to and benefit from digitalization. Dobra Kava, a coffee roasting business set up by people using wheelchairs, leverages technology to remove barriers in the online and physical world.

June 3, 2024

Dobra Kava is a coffee roasting and packaging business based in Chojniki, Gomel region

Photo Credit: Dobra Kava

Founded in 2022 by Evgeny and Vyacheslav, Dobra Kava has an ambitious goal – to offer the best product on the market and create jobs for people with disabilities. Since then, the entrepreneurs have come a long way to achieving their vision. First, supported by the EU and UNDP, the company equipped a wheelchair-accessible workshop. Then, they perfected the art of coffee roasting, becoming certified masters in this field. Adopting digital tools further expanded their business and drove innovation.

Photo credit: Dobra Kava

Digitalization that works for business 

The team’s creativity and passion quickly attracted local customers, with first orders coming primarily from Chojniki and neighboring towns. Yet, the limitations of traditional marketing soon became evident in the remote area with a population of less than 20,000 people.

Photo credit: Dobra Kava

Unlike word of mouth and brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce has the power to transcend geographic and physical barriers to reach a wider customer base. 

Interested in trying new ways of doing business, Evgeny and Vyacheslav joined the program launched for social entrepreneurs in their region. With the help of UNDP Accelerator Lab, the founders of Dobra Kava studied various aspects of e-commerce, from pricing to platform requirements. Equipped with digital skills and a clear promotion strategy, the entrepreneurs joined Ozon, an international marketplace, where they received their first online orders. 

Photo Credit: Dobra Kava

The business owners note that online presence helped significantly increase sales, expand the market, and improve brand visibility. This year, the company has already sold over 300 packs of coffee on marketplaces. 

-We took the first steps but did not stop there, - says Evgeny, the CEO of the company. Now, we are also partnering with Emall, a Belarusian marketplace. Soon, we plan to open a warehouse to shorten delivery time and launch sales of drip coffee bags, a new product for Belarus. In the future, we hope to open a chain of our own coffee shops, - adds the entrepreneur. 

Digitalization that works for people 

In recent years, digital transformation has created new job opportunities for people with disabilities, smoothing out many physical barriers and providing a larger group of individuals with a stable income. 

Photo credit: Dobra Kava

As Dobra Kava started working on online promotion, another person with a disability joined the team. Previously struggling to find employment, she now runs the company’s Instagram page and plans to develop a corporate website. Yet, some skills are best developed through hands-on experience. 

-Working and learning accommodations are crucial for people with disabilities, - says Vyacheslav. - Only when their needs are met can they fully participate in the production process. That is why our dream is to help others like us master the new professions we offer, - he adds. 

Digitalization that works for community 

Inclusive digital transformation has a wide-reaching impact. Not only does it benefit business but also affects the local community and drives economic development. 

Photo Credit: Dobra Kava

Thus, the story of Dobra Kava is, in many ways, about inspiration. A former driver, Eduard never imagined he would work with coffee. But motivated by Vyacheslav and Eduard’s example, he decided to become a coffee roaster at Dobra Kava as well. 

-The enthusiasm of the fellows from my wheelchair users' association was contagious. I think the idea is unique for our remote region, so here I am. I like watching every movement of complex mechanisms, knowing that the final product will make people happy, - shares Eduard. 

Having learned new digital skills, the entrepreneurs now share their knowledge with others in the region. Their experience has also laid a foundation for a roadmap that will help other social enterprises use online marketplaces. 

“As we develop our business, we unite like-minded people around us. We encourage people facing similar challenges see positive role-models and get motivated to move forward.”

In the online space, social business can have an unprecedented reach, drawing bigger attention to its values and fostering new partnerships. Recently, the team connected with a local stainless steel product manufacturer. Together, they tested the sand roasting technique, hoping this will become a successful cross-marketing project. 

-Most importantly, we have an incentive to grow. It means someone else will find a job and improve their quality of life, - concludes Evgeny.