Thrive Farmers was initially born out of a simple idea: to connect coffee directly to the consumer. Our humble, grassroots endeavor began in 2009 in Monteverde, Costa Rica, where we first formed and implemented our farmer-direct revenue sharing model. By bringing farmers to market as our partners, not just our suppliers, we were able to create more sustainable income and opportunities for them, which meant they could create more sustainable businesses and futures for themselves and their families. The success of this innovative new approach to the industry proved to us that we were onto something bigger, that we had a chance to bring about true change and impact to not only the coffee industry, but to big agriculture, by empowering farmers directly.
Who We Are Today
Today, we at Thrive Farmers continue to work tirelessly towards our vision of bringing sustainable success to farmers across multiple categories around the world. In addition to expanding our coffee partnerships throughout Central America, we have set our sights on the global tea industry, working with a network of tea farmers in Sri Lanka, to produce the finest quality loose leaf teas. The success of our mission has been recognized nationwide, including our recent ranking at #19 on the 35th annual Inc. 500 list, and being named one of the fastest growing companies in all of Georgia. In 2015, we proudly launched ThriveWorx Foundation, a 501(c)(3) foundation that expands upon the Thrive Farmers mission by working with farmers to address the local economic, social, and environmental challenges faced by their communities.
MEET OUR LEADERSHIP TEAM
After exiting a healthcare services company in January of 2011 that he had started ten years prior, Michael had planned to spend some long-needed time with his family while deciding what his next course in business would be. It was during this time that he was revisiting a conversation with his father-in-law, a long-time Blue Mountain coffee farmer in Jamaica, about the severe disadvantages in the value chain of coffee, that ultimately led to the creation of Thrive Farmers – an innovative platform to change the world of coffee and align the interests of producers and consumers for the first time.
Michael is the quintessential entrepreneur, having founded and operated several privately held companies. He has managed high growth companies and has been successful in building significant market value for shareholders. Most recently, Michael founded Implantable Provider Group (IPG), a provider of market-based medical implant solutions that is delivered to payors, manufacturers, providers and patients. In his role as President/COO, Michael was named one of Atlanta’s top 25 entrepreneurs by Catalyst Magazine in 2008 (#4). Jones was selected because of his role in founding IPG and turning it into one of the country’s fastest-growing businesses. In 2008, Inc. Magazine ranked IPG as the sixth-fastest growing healthcare company in the country (1,500% three year growth rate) and the 138th fastest-growing overall. FORBES Magazine recently ranked IPG at #5 in its list of 100 Most Promising Companies in America.
Michael has been instrumental in raising capital from high profile private equity firms including Sequoia Capital, arguably the most revered venture capital firm in recent history due to its investments in Apple, Atari, Oracle, Cisco, Yahoo, Paypal, Google and others, who invested in IPG in early 2010. Michael’s background prior to IPG includes an early career in the financial services industry in corporate finance. He then segued into healthcare in the mid 90’s pursuing two other ventures.
Michael is married to Sharon, and they have three boys. They enjoy travel, cooking, and snow skiing.
As a retired trial lawyer from Georgia, Ken has extensive experience in advocating client’s interests on long-term projects as well as in complicated litigation in both the private and public sectors. After 14 years of the practice of law, Ken decided to move with the entire family to a coffee farm in Costa Rica. With the transition from trial lawyer to coffee farmer, Ken quickly began to understand the injustices that farmers face in the current value chain of coffee.
With the combination of Ken’s never failing passion for advocacy and his new found vocation as a coffee farmer, Ken decided to make the case for the coffee farmer and to reveal the truth about your morning cup. Thrive Farmers is the direct result of Ken starting the San Rafael Sustainable Coffee Initiative in mid-2010 with other farmers in his coffee-growing community. The SRSCI became the initial local platform and test case for the farmer in San Rafael. THRIVE Farmers was the natural next leap to take the case of the coffee farmer to the entire world.
As Chief Sustainability Officer of Thrive Farmers, Ken seeks to find, advocate and project the voice of the farmer and to tell the world that a new day has come in the world of coffee. His passion to stand and advocate on behalf of his fellow coffee farmers has found its place in THRIVE Farmers.
Prior to law and farming, Ken was a marketing director with Feld Entertainment, Inc. working in public relations and marketing for Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Walt Disney’s World on Ice.
There is no coincidence in life, only Providence. A past experience in public relations, the practice of law, the passion for advocacy, and now coffee farming all are being brought to bear in Ken’s life to make Thrive Farmers the connection between the coffee farmer and the lover of coffee.
Tom Matthesen is a seasoned entrepreneur who has not only founded, built and sold several companies, but has also spent over 25 years financing and advising both development stage and more mature growth companies in a wide range of industries. He served as the founding Chairman of the Board and continues as a Board Member for the company. Since its inception, Matthesen has worked alongside the founders in the development of the company’s vision, strategic execution and capital formation strategies.
In addition to creating a sustainable scenario for local communities in Central America and countries where coffee is a major exported good, Matthesen is passionate about empowering the talented men and women who are responsible for growing world-class coffee – the individual farmers.
Matthesen served as CEO of Presidential Financial, a premiere provider of strategic financing for predominantly private equity portfolio companies throughout the U.S. Prior to Thrive, Matthesen served as CEO and founder of Wall Financial and held executive positions with GE Capital, Heller Financial, and Sun Trust Bank in Atlanta.
Matthesen holds a Bachelors degree in Business/Finance from the University of Colorado and a Masters in Business Administration from Georgia State University. He has also received his Six Sigma Quality and Executive Leadership certification from GE.
An active community member, Matthesen serves on the Board of Advisors for the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University. He was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Fellowship Christian Schools and served as Deacon at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church.
Tom and his wife, Rhonda, have two sons and a daughter and the world’s largest Golden Retriever, Maxx.
Bart Newman is the Chief Operating Officer for Thrive Farmers. Prior to joining Thrive, he served in various executive roles for publicly traded companies, which included leading businesses in Tucson (USA), Vancouver (CA), and Victoria (CA).
Bart’s professional experience began in the U.S. Army where he rose to the rank of Captain and completed a one year tour in Baghdad, Iraq. Upon returning from Iraq, Bart wrote the book Because of Baghdad: What a Father Would Say About Life, if He Didn’t Come Home to Say It. This book was featured in numerous media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal Law Blog and The Atlanta Journal & Constitution.
The Sigma Phi Epsilon National Fraternity named Bart to its inaugural Top 40 Under 40 in 2015; The Atlanta Business Chronicle recognized Bart as one of Atlanta’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2012; the University of Georgia named him to its inaugural Top 40 Under 40 in 2011; and the University of Georgia awarded him the Blue Key Young Alumnus Award in 2007.
Bart also serves on several boards including the Board of Visitors – University of Georgia, Board of Directors – Johnson Ferry Christian Academy, and Board of Advisors – Souly Business.
Bart received a BA, magna cum laude, from the University of Georgia, a MLitt in Management, Economics & International Relations from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and a JD, cum laude, from the University of Georgia School of Law.
Bart and his wife have four children and attend Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, where he has served as Deacon.
EDGAR CABRERA COZZA
Edgar Cabrera Cozza, Chief Origin Officer, has been a successful entrepreneur in his home country of Guatemala for over 20 years. Edgar has a heart for coffee and the impact it can have on the many lives that intersect the coffee community. Edgar was introduced to the coffee industry through is wife, who is a member of the Falla Family, and part of the successful San Miguel coffee operation. As an entrepreneur, Edgar saw the opportunities in the family business and successfully launched a chain of specialty coffee shops around Guatemala City called Café San Lucas. Edgar connected the family coffee production directly to the consumer on a daily basis.
With coffee as a growing passion, Edgar immersed himself deeper into the family business, managing the quality and scale of the organization. Edgar has successfully developed new markets and long-term relationships worldwide that have expanded the use of the family’s coffee around the globe.
With Thrive Farmers, Edgar’s focus is on quality, scalability and impact. His mission is connecting farmers in Latin America to the consumer and witnessing true impact for his home country of Guatemala, and for all the coffee producing countries in the region.
Most importantly, Edgar is a husband to Regina and a father to four beautiful children Alejandra, Adrian, Javier, and Marcelo.