Our primary objective for managing our community impact is to support the human rights of the producers we source from, the communities where we work, and the customers who sustain us. We support the regenerative development of vulnerable smallholder and Indigenous communities in Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil through community service and advocacy on topics that advance a healthy future for everyone.
The Fundación Agroecológica Iguazú (FAI), is a non-profit organization formed in 2010 that receives support from Guayakí Yerba Mate.
With a vision to regenerate life for the health of the planet, FAI is on a mission to educate, investigate, connect, and implement agroecological and regenerative systems in the Misiones Province of Argentina through the production of organic, Fair Trade, shade grown yerba mate.
The smallholder farmers, producers and Indigenous communities form the backbone of Guayakí’s yerba mate sourcing and are critical members of Guayakí’s overall business. Guayakí recognizes the critical importance of sourcing from these smallholding farms as means to pursue regenerative agricultural practices but also to establish local regenerative economic systems through sustainable business models. Guayakí pioneered regenerative agricultural development in Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil through direct relationships and partnerships with producers and harvesters of yerba mate. Guayakí intends to build on this foundation and grow its presence in the region in the years to come. In 2021, $146,500 was donated to the foundations that impact our yerba mate producer communities- Regeneración Paraguay and Fundación Agroecológica Iguazú.
Acres of Community Gardens
Guayakí provided $259,660 in charitable contributions in 2021.
One of the biggest environmental challenges in Paraguay associated with high deforestation rates and longer drought periods is the intensity and range of forest fires. Yerba mate producing communities are directly impacted by these challenges, with fires reaching homes, animals, yerba mate parcels, and other crops. Through an alliance with Guyra Paraguay and Pro Cosara, who also work on conservation of the San Rafael Reserve area, Guayakí Paraguay helped set up a forest fire fighting brigade in one of the main areas affected. The community of Oga Ita now has its own local brigade with formal training, uniforms, and equipment. This not only allows them to protect their homes, but also their livelihoods.
Approximately 30% of the green leaf yerba mate harvested for Guayakí in 2021 came from our partner Kaingang and Guarani communities at the Marrecas, Mangueirinha, and Rio da Areia Indigenous territories of Brazil. These lands stretch over 74,132 acres of protected forests, and a significant amount of high-quality, organic yerba mate is produced within.
Harvesting yerba mate from these forests in a regenerative manner provides opportunities for over 100 Indigenous harvesters and their families to earn a fair income with respect to the local culture.
Guayakí Brazil also partnered with Indigenous leaders in 2021 to submit projects for community tree nurseries. Funds are being received from the UN’s Development Program, enabling the structuring of strategies for ongoing regeneration processes for yerba mate production.
Historically, women participation within the yerba mate sector has been very limited throughout the region. Guayakí Brazil is promoting higher participation of women in the mate supply chain. Women employees of Guayakí Brazil have become leaders in the harvest of yerba mate, coordinating and supervising production and quality processes, relationships, and harvests with our partner producers. This year, Guayakí Brazil mate harvests in smallholder producers was carried out by a third-party partner, encouraged to pursue Fair Trade objectives. As a result, over 6 months of harvesting, there was a team mainly composed of women from Turvo, who provided an outstanding level of service as compared to the predominantly male teams.
In 2021, Guayakí Paraguay partnered with the local community to focus on the importance of moving towards paying producers in a way that best prepares and empowers them for the future. In rural areas of Paraguay, cash payments are almost always the norm, which brings with it risks for all parties. Guayakí Paraguay worked with producers to open bank accounts where they could receive bank transfers and then use a debit card to access their funds. This brings with it safety, formality, and traceability. It is also the first step in the process of including our producers in the financial system, in turn allowing them to save money, access credit, and have a formal record of their financial history.
Concurrently, Guayakí Paraguay worked with communities to formalize their accounting processes, allowing them to sell yerba mate and other products with legal invoices while also paying taxes on time. Another important step towards long-term financial stability.
The Cereví Life Regeneration Center at Fundación Agroecológica Iguazú in Argentina is a meeting place between nature and human. The objective of this sacred geometric spiral, complete with yurts along the boardwalk that winds from forest floor to the canopy, is to host and invite guests to co-participatory workshops and traditional yerba mate circles. Inspired by the cascading biodiversity deep within the South Atlantic Rainforest, the site is staged for knowledge sharing, cultural regeneration, and research.
In addition to our smallholder producers and indigenous community partners, we also think about how best to support our North American communities, which include local community groups where we operate, all in an effort to spread yerba mate culture and the positive spirit of Guayakí and make a positive impact on these important members of the global Guayakí community.
Guayakí believes firmly that we must engage in collective action to achieve our company vision of a bright, opportunity-rich future for our stakeholders, partners, communities, industry, and planet. In 2021, we engaged in collective action on a broad range of topics including the environment, regenerative agriculture, climate disclosures, and B Corporation advocacy.