As part of our Fair for Life certification, Guayakí Sustainable Rainforest Products, Inc. pays additional premiums for each yerba mate purchase. Producer communities utilize the fair trade fund to invest in projects that will directly support their social, cultural, health, education, economic, and environmental conditions. In 2022, an equivalent of $17,487 from fair trade funds was invested in the communities of various yerba mate producers, harvesters, and processors. Currency conversions and local economic conditions such as inflation mean these funds provide more support than they would in the US, for example. We also supplement these premiums with our financial and in-kind donations to producer communities. As a buyer of yerba mate and other ingredients in the region, we are exploring additional ways to operationalize our impact through market-based premiums and incentives that fund local environmental, social, and economic development projects in a more sustainable, equitable way.
In Brazil, fair trade funds generated from the organic and shade-grown green leaf yerba mate harvest directly benefitted 53 producer families, as well as approximately 120 Indigenous harvesters and 50 third-party harvest workers. An increase in mate volumes exported from Brazil to the US in 2022 translated to an increase in the fair trade fund available to be invested in community projects. These fair trade funds were invested into a variety of projects, including strengthening Indigenous cultures, regenerative practices, and local food systems. Guayakí’s partner producers and communities were able to invest in gathering spaces, such as the Guarani of Rio de Areia community who rebuilt their traditional Opy’i (House of Prayer) and the Faxinal Saudade Community, working towards finishing their Community Center. At the Faxinal Saudade, women invested their fair trade fund to support training and buying of equipment for their local community kitchen, producing bread and jelly with local products. Food gardens and orchards in local schools within the Faxinal Saudade and Marrecas Kaingang communities were also supported by fair trade funds, producing over 1 ton of food and benefiting over 200 children, their teachers, and families.
In Argentina, in 2022 improvements were implemented in a healthcare center (built in 2021) using fair trade funds and in-kind contributions from the Andresito municipality such as labor and materials, providing primary healthcare services to the local community, as well as mental health support and vaccines. The harvesters also decided to allocate part of the fair trade fund to repair the Barrio 20 de Junio Church where the most of the families and neighbors attend. Essential infrastructure repairs were done that allow more people to participate in activities and ceremonies. In addition to providing spiritual support, this church carries out important social services such as youth groups within the neighborhood.
Our subcontracted processor in Argentina, Cuatro Caminos, also achieved their own Fair for Life fair trade certification in 2022 with our support. Our goal is to partner with suppliers to increase the fair trade funds available to communities in our supply chain by encouraging them to follow our own sourcing standards and policies, such as Fair for Life fair trade certification.