Efrem Fesaha started Boon Boona Coffee in 2012 after he took a trip to Asmara, Eritrea that changed the course of his life. Fesaha returned from the East African country with newfound joy, passion, and a desire to share the experience of coffee with Seattle. Fesaha pitched his theoretical business idea to banks, hoping to get the funding he needed to open a café, but he his applications for loans were denied at every bank he visited. Fesaha didn’t let the rejection stop him. When he realized he didn’t have enough capital for his café, he adapted his plan and began selling high-quality, responsibly-sourced green coffee beans from Ethiopia for East African communities in the Seattle area. Although Fesaha has a background in finance, he found himself with more questions than answers when it came to starting and running his business.
Fesaha turned to Bernard Bossom, a business mentor at the Greater Seattle SCORE chapter to find the answers to his growing list of questions on how to run a business. By working with Bossom and attending multiple training sessions, Fesaha was able to gain the knowledge required to effectively start and run his business. After six years of selling green coffee beans, Fesaha was able to get a SBA microloan from Craft3 to reach his goal of opening a café in Renton.
In 2019 Fesaha opened the doors to his café, fulfilling his vision of creating a space where people could come, spend time together and experience coffee, not just drink it. Fesaha was able to hire 15 employees and saw more than 1,000% revenue growth in the first year the café was open. Fesaha remains committed to running a socially responsible business that leaves positive impacts on both the African communities where his coffee beans are sourced and in his local community where Boon Boona Coffee is located. Fesaha will be opening a second location in Seattle once COVID restrictions allow for in-person gatherings.
From the Business Owner
“Being a business owner takes grit; a phone call rejection shouldn’t stop you when you’re doing what you’re passionate about,” Fesaha said. “Business ownership isn’t purely about financial gain; it shouldn’t be what motivates you.”