Catalysing coffee through renewable energy for off-grid communities in Timor-Leste

Catalysing coffee through renewable energy for off-grid communities in Timor-Leste

Off-Grid Renewable Energy Partnerships Timor Leste Resources and Clean Energy Active

32%

68%

Partner contribution

$ 112,640

DFAT contribution

$ 250,000

Icon Total Funds

Total Value

$ 362,640


Start: June 2024 - End: March 2026

Partners

Australian Government

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade works with international partners and other countries to tackle global challenges, increase trade and investment opportunities, protect international rules, keep our region stable and help Australians overseas.

 

Engineers Without Borders Australia

Engineers Without Borders Australia is a for-purpose organisation creating social value through engineering, developing skills, knowledge and engineering solutions.

Raw Material

Raw Material is a for-purpose organisation supporting economic opportunity and wellbeing for smallholder producers and their communities through coffee

Mara Mresa

Mara Mresa is part of the Raw Material network, connecting local Timorese producers and families to the global specialty market.

About this partnership

A partnership to catalyse coffee production through renewable energy for off-grid communities in Timor-Leste

Context

Across rural Timor-Leste, there is very limited access to grid electricity. Many off-grid communities use diesel-powered generators for electricity generation, or have no access to electricity at all, impacting the wellbeing, health and livelihoods of women, children and families.

In addition, communities in Timor-Leste face challenges in accessing jobs and economic opportunities. Currently, Timor-Leste’s economy is reliant on oil with over 90% of export income come from oil and gas, however production will wind down over the next decade.

Alternative sources of income and economic opportunity are essential for people and communities in Timor-Leste. Coffee is the second highest export earner for Timor-Leste after oil, accounting for almost 90% of Timor-Leste’s annual non-oil merchandise exports since independence, and 37% of households depend on coffee for a portion of their income. Productivity of the coffee sector in Timor-Leste is currently unreliable and extremely low, with profitability and income in the standard coffee market also low and volatile for all actors along the supply chain, from pickers to exporters. Therefore, improving the productivity and income of the coffee sector is of critical importance for improving lives and livelihoods of rural and remote communities.

Timor-Leste is well-positioned to achieve this through exporting to the specialty coffee market, which is growing rapidly. Timor-Leste can reach this higher-paying market by leveraging its natural advantages, but only once investments in quality processing and other key areas are made.

About the initiative

Engineers Without Borders Australia, together with Raw Material, Mara Mresa and the Australian Government, has formed an innovative partnership to address this by establishing renewable-energy powered coffee hubs that empower off-grid communities in Timor Leste by providing access to energy and improving coffee production for global specialty markets.

Focused on two off-grid coffee-producing communities, the partnership will install and maintain solar-powered coffee processing infrastructure hubs, benefiting from strong community relationships and collaboration. It aims to improve energy access, reduce emissions, create new job and income generating opportunities and increase participation of women in the coffee sector. The partnership also aims to enhance community inclusion and connection by establishing processing sites as multi-functional hubs offering various energy services for local households, contributing to long-term sustainability and economic growth.

Key contributions from partners
  • Engineers Without Borders Australia will provide project management and renewable energy solutions, within a Timor-Leste context.
  • Raw Material will oversee the design and implementation of the partnership, drawing on their expertise in improving coffee sector productivity and economic outcomes in Timor-Leste.
  • Mara Mrsea (Raw Material Timor Leste) will support the partnerships’ design and implementation, with a particular emphasis on engagement with local community members.
  • The Australian Governmentwill contribute catalytic funding. It will also connect partners to networks, provide support through the BPP in gender and disability inclusion, business models, safeguards and impact measurement, as well as support with communications to enable national and global recognition.
Hear from our partners

Ameta Da Costa Alves, Raw Material Timor Leste (Mara Mresa)

“We are excited about the opportunity to use and access renewable energy in our communities, to improve our coffee production and quality, and opportunities for our community members.” Ameta Da Costa Alves, Raw Material Timor Leste (Mara Mresa)

Dr Peter McArdle | Chief Engineer, Engineers without Borders

“Engineers Without Borders Australia is thrilled about this exciting new partnership with Raw Material, Mara Mresa, and the Australian Government. We look forward to bringing our expertise in renewable energy solutions to empower coffee-producing communities in Timor-Leste. By establishing solar-powered coffee hubs with these communities, we will improve energy access, reduce emissions, and create new economic opportunities for the region.” Dr Peter McArdle | Chief Engineer, Engineers without Borders

 

This partnership was selected through the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP) Call for Partnerships to Support Off-Grid Renewable Energy in the Pacific and Timor-Leste.

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