Student coffee startup with an ethical conscience

26 Oct 2018

The Bugisu Project co-founders are fellow UNSW students, Brody Smith and Darcy Small who started the company after travelling to Uganda in 2018

Back at UNSW, Arts & Social Sciences students Brianna Kerr and Monica Wang joined the project as directors of impact and of finance. Kerr, in her final year of development studies, says being a part of a multidisciplinary team has created a hub for knowledge sharing and personal growth.

“I would never have imagined that, at 22, I would have helped develop an organisation to the point that it might be able to employ me,” says Brianna Kerr, UNSW Bachelor of Arts student.


UNSW students self-started The Bugisu Project. Left to right: Monica Wang, Brianna Kerr, Brody Smith and Darcy Small

“Building a business certainly builds your capacity beyond specialisation.

“My role involves liaising with our partners in Uganda and maintaining strong relationships with all of our stakeholders. Because of my development studies background and my range of experiences in Malawi, Indonesia, India and Papua New Guinea, I was approached to jump onboard as the Director of Impact.

“Eventually, part of my role will be to work closely with our partners to ensure that our donations are being meaningfully and purposefully spent."

Bugisu_Brianna and Monica

Arts & Social Sciences students Monica Wang and Brianna Ker

The UNSW Arts student says she would have never imagined learning about budgeting, business registration, legal compliance and marketing.

The collaboration between disciplines went from strength to strength when UNSW Engineering students Brody Smith and Darcy Small decided to expand their business model and create opportunities.

During their summer internship at a microfinance NGO, UNSW Commerce and Arts student Monica Wang and Kerr had bonded over their mutual interest for international development and social enterprise.

As the Director of Finance, Wang plans to work on the Bugisu Project pretty much full-time in the future, with the option of undertaking Honours part-time.

“As a latecomer to the project, I’ve been blown away at how incredibly dedicated, zealous, funny and intelligent they are,” says Ms Wang.

“Without a doubt, everyone has been just as clueless as each other, but our passion and eagerness to learn has helped us acquire so many practical experiences and new knowledge.

“I can’t think of a better way to learn and especially in learning how to learn.”

“I realise that UNSW and the generous support of academic staff has been monumental in providing us with the resources to jump-start this opportunity,” says Ms Wang.

The Bugisu Project provides Ugandan coffee to five major Australian workplaces. As a not-for-profit, the enterprise plans to channel funds into charities and NGOs in Uganda.

In Australia, it will also be a zero-waste coffee supplier by packaging coffee in reusable jars and composting coffee grounds they collect from the partner businesses.

To celebrate Fair Trade Month and the companies raising awareness about the importance of the fair trade movement, visit the Bugisu Project.