We’re Bright Citizen, a social enterprise focused on creating a sustainable future by giving 50% of its profits back to our nonprofit Digital Citizen Fund—and we’re doing it by introducing a first-of-its-kind coffee product blended with saffron.
I’m Elaha Mahboob, a social entrepreneur focussed on women and technology. In 2010, my sister and I opened our own IT business in Herat, Afghanistan. We provide networking and software services for government and non-government agencies. We overcame challenges and achieved success , but we also realized that many other girls and women are never even afforded that chance. Millions of women are curious and passionate, but they are never given the chance to explore the world, broaden their horizons, and succeed. We wanted to share our success; that’s why we started the Digital Citizen Fund in 2013. Digital Citizen Fund is a certified 501(c)3 non-profit that provides access to technology and business education to teenage girls in developing so that they can become independently successful. So far, we have educated over 10,000 women in Afghanistan.
On top of the traditional 501(c)3 model of pursuing grants and donations, we realized we could use our business acumen to create a sustainable business revenue model to contribute more. We are from a culture that prides itself on fantastic food and hospitality, so we decided to collaborate with local food industry experts to create a product which could achieve these goals.
We wanted to create something that would have value but also make a social impact and spotlight Afghanistan. The first thing that came into our mind which had an intimate and real connection to Afghanistan was saffron. By combining saffron with coffee, the second most consumed commodity in the world, we can make a huge difference in our region. Not only will we support a region in need, but innovate the coffee industry with a sweet, floral taste that makes our coffee distinct and refreshing. (And, of course, fair trade and organic!) Right from the beginning, we decided to give 50% of our profit back to DCF to empower women and youth through education and technology.
This is where you come in as a supporter of Bright Citizen Coffee. We want to see more girls have access to education and technology, and we need to raise a lot of awareness to achieve that. Your support will make an unspeakably meaningful impact on the people of Afghanistan.
Why Saffron Coffee?
Saffron is one of the world's most delicious spices, treasured for its golden color and rich, distinct flavor. In Afghanistan, it’s called “red gold.” Its ethereal flavor perfectly suits both savory and sweet palates. It is associated with a host of health benefits, including mental stimulation, curing the common cold, and improved heart and digestive health). Several clinical trials have shown the efficacy of saffron in relieving mild to moderate depression, and its sedative properties help to relax the mind and promote peaceful sleep . Saffron has proven effective for learning and memory retention, and some antioxidants found in saffron have anti-aging properties that help to keep skin smooth and clear . Additionally, saffron is rich in potassium, which can lower blood pressure and minimize the risk of heart disease . This spice can help to improve the digestive system’s function and appetite, and recently, some studies have shown that saffron may also have future applications in cancer treatments .
Saffron is a nutrition powerhouse, and we’re using it to empower women and promote better health for our consumers.
Our saffron comes straight from Afghanistan, where the export helps women farmers in the region. Saffron cultivation is one of the most important industries in our country; the International Taste and Quality Institute based in Brussels has selected Afghanistan’s saffron as the world's best from among 300 competitors. This is how our coffee will achieve both superior taste and social impact.
Currently, thousands of people in Afghanistan cultivate, process, and produce saffron annually—mainly women. As of 2017, 11% of total employed women work in agriculture (The Global Economy). Sourcing saffron locally from Afghanistan helps female Afghan farmers to be financially independent, which is one of our primary goals here at Bright Citizen.
How Bright Citizen Helps
We are a powerhouse of empowerment and social change because half of our profits go back to their source, and when we purchase saffron from the developing world, we generate employment and commerce for the region. The profits that we return benefit women and youth through education and technology via the Digital Citizen Fund (DCF). The DCF has educated over 10,000 girls in Afghanistan and currently runs 11 schools year-round alongside two media centers. Our Afghan, all-girls robotic team has become a role model for girls everywhere, and enrollment in STEM programs has increased since its debut.
How It’s Produced
The coffee is supplied by a Fair Trade coffee wholesaler. They roast and grind the beans to our specifications. The yellow and red saffron are carefully ground—fine, but not too fine—to release the natural oils and aromatics. On top of superior flavor, this also ensures spots of color can be seen throughout the blend.
How to Brew Saffron Coffee
To brew your saffron coffee, use a French Press with filtered water heated to 200 degrees. Steep the coffee for 5 minutes longer than you normally would to allow the saffron enough time to release it’s flavor. Use 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 oz. of water.
What’s in a Name?
Bright Citizen’s brand name is inspired by the idea of a digital citizen—someone who uses technology regularly and effectively. “Bright” is an ode to our purpose—inspiring brighter futures. Every time a consumer chooses to purchase Bright Citizen’s coffee, it creates a brighter future for someone else.
We are striving to raise awareness and we hope you share our vision of a world where girls have access to education and technology in the same way you do every day. We live in an increasingly connected, globalized economy, and by helping us at this stage, you can play a huge part in strengthening the creative tissue of our global community while also being a mindful and forward-thinking consumer. Together we can all be Bright Citizens.
Bright Citizen is certified as both organic and fair trade, and the content is 100% arabica. Bright Citizen is a brand that checks all the boxes: the coffee tastes great, it makes you feel fantastic, and you can drink it knowing it's both free of artificial chemicals and that the people who produce the ingredients are treated with dignity. It’s no secret making socially and environmentally responsible products adds cost and complexity, but I hope you agree it's worth the effort.
Why We Need Your Help
Coffee and saffron, especially high-end fair trade organic, is expensive. The saffron almost doubles our production cost, and we have to order large quantities to make this work. That's why we're running a Kickstarter to get things going. There are other things that this Kickstarter will help to pay for, including promotional activities. Getting a product to market is expensive, and your support is both needed and appreciated. We promise to be transparent and keep you up to date on our timeline and progress.
Both of us have been working in the tech industry and pushing female empowerment for more than 10 years, and our career has been focused on developing new ideas or inventions to prompt social change. Over time, we have become increasingly adept at starting and maintaining successful businesses and organizations. We have also put together a stellar team of partners and collaborators who will help bring Bright Citizens coffee to life.
Elaha Mahboob - A social entrepreneur and past winner of Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2018, focusing on women's empowerment and creating tech infrastructure that supports women and children to improve their lives in developing countries. She focussed on computer science for her undergraduate studies and currently studies as a graduate student at the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs focusing on science, technology, and infrastructure policy.
Roya Mahboob - She is a serial entrepreneur, and currently CEO and President of Digital Citizen Fund. She focused on building Digital Literacy for women and children in developing countries. And her personal goal for Digital Literacy is to bridge the gap between education and job markets by offering practical skills for women and youth in developing countries through Digital Citizen Fund. She sits on the Advisory Board of Forbes School of Business of Ashford University, Resolution Project, the Global Thinkers Forum and The NewNow organization. Roya was named to TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2013 for her work in building internet classrooms in high schools in Afghanistan. The TIME 100 essay was written by Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg who is also the author of “Lean In Women, Work and the Will to Lead”. She is also a member of the 2014 Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards, Civic Innovators, The Advancement of Gender Equality through Education Award , Wonder Women, Young Leader of the World Economic Forum in 2015. She recently received a doctoral of Science in Engineering faculty of McMaster University.
Risks and challenges
Every product launch has risks and challenges. Thankfully, we have good relationships with our coffee suppliers and saffron farmers, and we’ve already ironed out the details that will get our product here on time and retaining its superior quality. We’ve put together a team specifically to handle any issues that arise; we’re confident that the risks of launching our product are in good hands! Obviously, as with any agriculture based product, especially one in a developing country, there are risks associated with weather and socio-political events, but we are confident we will be able to deliver a successful product.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)