My name is Marcis Esmits and, somewhere around the age of 11 or 12, I discovered that I liked business. At that time “business” was selling Coke, ice cream and other drinks and snacks at small, local sports events in the east end of Toronto. I don’t recall my commission on each sale, but I do remember being filthy rich one Saturday evening. I had earned over $5 which, at that time, was a princely sum. In grade school I had two newspaper routes and a magazine route. The former kept me busy after school weekdays and on Saturdays and the magazine route did the same on Saturday. When I was in my last year of high school and throughout my university summer holidays, I worked in a small, local paint factory doing everything from making the paint to selling it.
Even though I graduated as a chemical engineer, I knew that anything I built would either explode, fall down, or just plain not work and I had best find some other line of work. I worked in sales and marketing for some large Canadian and American companies but found my niche when I went to work for the Government of British Columbia in the newly created Small Business Department. Over 15 years I held positions aimed at advising entrepreneurs either how to start their business or how to resolve a business issue.
I also liked to travel, and it was a short step from the government to international consulting. Since then, I have worked in Caribbean countries, in South America, in Eastern Europe after those countries escaped from the Soviet Union’s workers’ paradise, in Central Asia, North, Eastern and Southern Africa and Asia. For the last twenty-seven years I have worked mainly with small businesses and particularly those small companies that want to export. Especially in Eastern and Southern Africa, most small businesses are owned and operated by women. For most men, a “real job” is working for a large company or the government. Generally, this is true in other countries I worked in but not to the same extent as in Sub-Saharan Africa. That is how, in January 2019, I ended up in Ethiopia doing workshops on exporting to officials of business associations and how I fell in love with Ethiopian coffee. My coffee journey is in the next section.