Brewing Change in Tea and Spice Growing Communities

Project Description
When Margarita suffered the loss of her husband, she had four young children to provide for and her seasonal cardamom crop wasn’t enough to keep her family afloat. Her family often didn’t have enough to eat, and they experienced health issues as a result.

Margarita then heard about a program in her community in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, where she could learn about improving her farming skills. She joined and learned how to grow a wider variety of crops and increase her production. She has now become a successful businesswoman, able to feed her family year-round and sell the surplus produce for a profit. With her hard work and determination, she was able to educate her four children who are now thriving.  Margarita tells us, “I have become more empowered since the program came here. I have the opportunity and right to learn, and to participate in decision-making processes in my community.”

For more than ten years, Mercy Corps and Starbucks’ Tazo Tea have worked together to empower people like Margarita to transform their lives. Together we have reached more than 84,000 people in India and Guatemala who grow tea ingredients for a living with the resources they need to create lasting change in their communities.

Many families in tea origin communities have scarce access to health care, education, or financial and business opportunities. Seasonal crops only provide income to families for part of the year, and during the off-season they often struggle to put food on the table or send their children to school.

As a part of their approach to ethical sourcing, Starbucks and Tazo have collaborated with Mercy Corps to address these issues in a holistic way in Guatemala and India. By combining health education, business training, and youth and women’s empowerment programming, we are helping small communities move toward a brighter and more successful future. Now youth are learning business and life skills, mothers have access to an emergency fund in case they need critical care for themselves or their families, and parents like Margarita are able to put food on the table year round and send their children to school.

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Mercy Corps is a leading global humanitarian organization saving and improving lives in the world’s toughest places. With a network of experienced professionals in more than 40 countries, we partner with local communities to put bold ideas into action to help people recover, overcome hardship, and build better lives. We rely on the support of individuals, foundations and corporations to make our work in Guatemala, India, and in other coffee and tea growing regions possible. Visit to learn more about how you can get involved. You can also stay connected to our work by visiting and following us on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter.

Project Contact:
Jenny Keating

[email protected]

Project URL:

Guatemala, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala and Assam and Darjeeling, India

Project Impact:
84,000 people, and counting.

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