Investing in Coffee Communities

Our Goal: Provide 100 Million trees to farmers by 2025

Thanks to our partners and customers, more than 30 million trees have been donated to coffee farmers thus far and we have quadrupled our commitment to get 100 million trees to coffee farmers by 2025. This effort began in September 2015, when Starbucks launched the One Tree for Every Bag program to help ensure the long-term supply of coffee and the economic future of coffee farmers. Its goal—to raise enough funds by the end of 2016 to plant 20 million coffee seedlings to replace trees that are declining in productivity due to age and disease, such as coffee leaf rust.

With the help of our customers, we exceeded this goal in just over a year. More than 30 million trees have been donated thus far with the initial distribution of 10 Million in the summer of 2016.

This effort is part of our ongoing commitment to provide comprehensive support to farmers around the world which includes open-source agronomy research, farmer financing and access to information.

Global Farmer Fund
Our Goal: Invest $50 Million in the Global Farmer Fund by 2020

The Starbucks Global Farmer Fund is a $50M commitment to provide financing to coffee farmers. Through these loans, farmers are able to support agronomy, restoration and infrastructure improvements. This work directly influences coffee quality, sustainability and overall profitability for the entire specialty coffee industry.

We began investing in farmer loans in 2000, providing access to credit at reasonable terms is a critical aspect of our farmer support model. By investing in farmer loans, we’re helping cooperatives manage risk and strengthen their businesses. By 2017 our total loan commitment has grown to $23 million.

Our loan partners made loans in 13 countries in FY16 – including Peru, Nicaragua, Honduras, Rwanda, Guatemala, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, Kenya, Uganda, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Indonesia – to suppliers we both buy from as well as ones we do not. Loan recipients also receive technical assistance in the form of agronomy best practices, business planning and price risk management training.

Nicaragua, UCCEI

Ubeda never thought she’d be running a coffee business. But the community leaders who tapped Kenia to found and run UCCEI, a farmer cooperative in the coffee-fueled town of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, knew she had what it took. And in 2009, Kenia rose to the challenge and became UCCEI’s general manager, overseeing a business currently sourcing from over 900 smallholder farmers in the region. In return for their high-quality, specialty coffee, UCCEI provides farmers with higher prices, technical trainings to help producers increase yields, an internal credit fund to help members invest in their farms and their families, and programs focused on improving health and education.

Initially, UCCEI struggled to find the financing it needed to succeed. But in 2010, Root Capital provided UCCEI with a $300,000 loan — a loan that UCCEI paid back in full. Today, UCCEI has a $1.5 million line of credit open with Root Capital, and is using that capital to invest in the farmers that produce the high-quality coffee that Starbucks purchases year after year. Working with UCCEI, Kenia reports, some farmers have as much as doubled their production – and their incomes.

Rwanda, Maraba Cooperative

Today, the “thousand hills” that give Rwanda its nickname are speckled with coffee farms that produce some of the finest coffee in the world. But not long ago, the Rwandan coffee industry looked very different. The 1994 genocide had devastated communities in Rwanda’s coffee-growing regions, leaving them struggling to rebuild. With the population and countryside ravaged by conflict, it was difficult to grow, process and export coffee. For Rwanda’s women — many of whom had been widowed by the genocide, and were left in charge of coffee farms they had never before managed — the path forward looked particularly bleak.

But in the decades since the conflict, smart and targeted investment in the specialty coffee sector have allowed the industry to recover and offered these women a path for hope and reconstruction. One such woman is Esperance Nyirahabiamana, producer-member of Maraba Cooperative. Root Capital has financed Maraba since 2005, supporting them in generating sustainable incomes and economic opportunities for 1,415 smallholder coffee farmers like Esperance. Now, says Esperance, “my situation has improved, and my life today is very different from those women who are not in the cooperative. I have been able to get a job and receive benefits like training from the cooperative, and I can get credit for small projects.”

For more information about Root Capital's work with coffee cooperatives like UCCEI and Maraba, visit their website at

Providing access to credit at reasonable terms is a critical aspect of our farmer support model. By investing in farmer loans, we’re helping cooperatives manage risk and strengthen their businesses. We are currently on target to achieve our goal of increasing our farmer loans investment to $50 million by 2020.

The Starbucks Foundation Origin Grants
Our Goal: Empower 250,000 women and families in coffee, tea, and cocoa communities through innovative partnerships

The Starbucks Foundation aims to promote leadership opportunities for women and families in coffee, tea and cocoa growing communities to break down barriers to education, clean water and sanitation, and economic opportunities. In March 2018 The Starbucks Foundation announced a multi-year strategic partnership with Malala Fund to expand its work in advocacy, investment, and amplifying young women and girls’ voices, including growing its Gulmakai Network of education champions to coffee and tea growing communities in India and Latin America. The partnership will help expand non-traditional educational opportunities in those communities and scale leadership opportunities for young women with a goal to inspire the next generation of civically engaged leaders. Starbucks also plans to connect partners (employees) with Malala Fund’s Gulmakai Network champions to create additional leadership and engagement opportunities.

The Starbucks Foundation’s partnership with Malala Fund will build on its ongoing investments in coffee, tea and cocoa growing communities worldwide with organizations like Mercy Corps, Eastern Congo Initiative, and Heifer International which since 2005 have collectively impacted more than 450,000 people. With a deeper focus on women and families, Starbucks will also be able to accelerate its broader goal to improve the lives of at least one million coffee farmers and workers by 2025.

Starbucks has a long history of working with coffee and tea origin communities to address their most critical needs such as access to water, sanitation, health and education. Since 2005, the Foundation has awarded more than $20 million in Origin Grants to organizations working in coffee and tea sourcing communities, including Mercy Corps, Eastern Congo Initiative, Heifer International and others, to support smallholder farming families with vocational training, increased access to water and health services, and greater economic opportunity in coffee and tea-growing communities.

Project outcomes from current grants:

  • 8,939 animals (dairy cattle, chickens) given to project participants to help them start small businesses (milk, egg production), boost incomes and diversify agricultural production
  • 3,916 farmers, community members trained in home gardens, dairy cattle, coffee hybrids, water/sanitation, small business development, nutrition and other skills
  • 498 water/sanitation facilities installed or rehabilitated, including new water tanks, bathrooms, faucets, hand washing stations, and chlorine systems for rural communities and schools
  • 24 coffee wet mills installed at coffee cooperatives in Indonesia and Congo that greatly reduce water needed to process coffee and waste water into local rivers
  • 1,745 project participants planted home gardens, with vegetables, fruits and other non-coffee crops to diversity and improve their families’ nutrition

The following organizations are current recipients:

Lutheran World Relief
Location: Colombia
Focus: WASH, coffee wet mills, diversified agro-forestry systems

Eastern Congo Initiative
Location – Democratic Republic of the Congo
Focus: Coop management, coffee washing stations, at risk youth

Mercy Corps, CHAI V Project
Location – India, Guatemala
Focus: Healthcare, nutrition, economic development in tea growing communities

National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA)
Location – Indonesia
Focus: Providing clean water to 27,000 people in 90 Arabica coffee producing villages

Heifer International
Location: Tanzania
Focus: Improving sustainable livelihoods, quality of life for 5,000 smallholder coffee farmers in Mbozi district

Mercy Corps (BUILD project)
Location: Colombia
Focus: Creating more resilient communities with improved food, security, land tensure, and sustainable water management for 1,022 families in Southern Tolima

World Coffee Research
Location: Guatemala
Focus: Increasing farmer incomes through introduction of new rust resistant, high yielding F1 coffee hybrid varieties.