ACUMEN ENTREPRENEURS BUILD SOLUTIONS TO THE TOUGHEST CHALLENGES FACING THE POOR
CREATING A MARKET FOR INDIGENOUS FARMERS IN THE AMAZON WHILE SELLING PREMIUM NATURAL BEVERAGES IN THE US
Farmers throughout Latin America face similar challenges to break the poverty cycle. Smallholder farmer production is limited by land size, access to markets particularly for value added crops, price and demand fluctuations, poor infrastructure, excessive middlemen, and limited availability of technical assistance. Rural areas also lag behind due to lower educational levels and limited access to basic public services.
Runa produces and sells a range of ready-to-eat organic teas and natural energy drinks made from guayusa, a plant with excellent nutrition cultivated in the Amazon rainforest. The company has a vertically integrated business model, where the supply comes from working with indigenous communities in Ecuador. The fruits are converted it into premium beverages, which are currently sold in more than 10,000 stores across the U.S.
For centuries, indigenous communities had consumed guayusa but it was only with the establishment of Runa that this plant proved to have commercial value. By developing a fair market for guayusa, Runa is generating an alternative revenue stream for indigenous farmers and increasing their incomes by an average of 20%.
The Company sources from +1,000 indigenous farmers in the Ecuadorian Amazon. On average, farmers own 1 ha agroforestry land plots and have annual incomes of US$1,640, falling below the extreme poverty line for Ecuador which stands at US$1.6 per person per day.