Chi Nguyen with Jane, SAFI administrator in Kenya
I’m baaaaaack from a productive trip in Kenya! I try not to lose sight of our company’s purpose and mission (ever!) but I have to say, after spending time with tea pickers and purple tea producers on this trip, I’m back with even more renewed energy to be a catalyst for good by providing good-for-you beverages and empowering those most vulnerable – female Kenyan tea pickers. I will have two post-Kenya blog posts and this one will focus on the tea pickers and social impact. The second will focus on naturally organic purple tea and why it’s the next big thing.
“It was reaffirmed on my trip that small changes can in fact have a big impact on people’s lives and that purple tea is living up to its healthy expectations.”
From Purple Tea to Prosperi-tea
When Purpose Tea was just an idea, I knew I wanted it to be a socially responsible business focused on helping women, but the real work was in the details of how we would give back and make the most impact. After months of research and my first trip to Kenya in May of 2016 when I discovered purple tea, we finalized our social impact program, Seed A Future. With your purchase of Purpose Tea, we fund these areas to help tea pickers improve their lives:
- Essential training to help women and men with important skills like financial management and budgeting; nutrition (know how to fuel themselves to be productive); and gender equity
- Community support services – scholarships for Kenyan tea pickers’ children, access to affordable healthcare.
- Access to land. It is key to financial freedom. A tea picker earns roughly $1 - $2 per day and does not have access to credit. With this opportunity, she has choices she never had before: earn extra income, feed her children, repay her loan, save money to purchase a plot of land, educate her children — and consider the future.
Small Changes, Big Impact
Five dollars. What can you do with $5? You can buy a large flavored latte, fast food meal or a half gallon of milk. The point is, $5 doesn’t get you much nowadays but it was a meaningful number to the tea pickers who are taking part of our Seed a Future Initiative (SAFI).
“This past March we trained 255 tea pickers (of which 78% were female) on important skills like financial management and budgeting, nutrition and gender equity issues and gave each an honorarium of $5 for their participation.”
On this recent trip, I met with a group of 20 Kenyan tea pickers who underwent the training to talk about their experiences and what changes they’ve implemented as a result. I don’t claim to know all the answers to the challenges of gender inequity and poverty, but I think it’s important that I listen and use that insight to come up with meaningful solutions and refinements to SAFI. Hearing their stories about how the training and $5 stipend impacted their lives was the highlight of my trip and reminded me of “why” I went into business.
Group of Kenyan tea pickers who went through Purpose Tea SAFI training
The meeting took place in an empty classroom at one of the local schools. Even though I was a few hours late, everyone waited for me and were dressed in their Sunday’s best. They welcomed me with song and jovial spirits. For them, enduring hardships is the daily norm so I really admire their high spirits and positive outlook on life. It was contagious.
One by one, they stood and told me their personal stories. They were so touching that at one point, I had to break out the tissues. Here are just a few examples:
There was a single mom of four children struggling to feed her kids on $1.50/day picking tea. After our training, she bought two hens and one cock with her $5 and grew a flock that laid eggs from which she fed her kids and sold at the local markets to provide additional income for her family. One example of small change that had a big impact.
Kenyan tea picker who went through the SAFI program
There was a man who told the story of his wife getting up every day at 4:00 am to do the household chores while he slept. There are so many studies that show women who disproportionately take on the burden of unpaid work lose out on opportunities for paid work and contributing to her family and the economy. After attending the training, he realized how the burden on his wife was negatively affecting their family and income. He began helping with household chores and with some work on the family budget, they were able to pay for their children’s school fees. This particular story truly touched me. Behavioral change is hard to come by when it’s ingrained in a culture and society, so even though this was one story, I realized small changes can have a big impact on improving lives.
I felt so hopeful about the stories I heard on this trip and I believe we are on a path to something good to improve the lives of those who live in deep poverty.
Chi with a group of tea pickers who went through Purpose Tea's SAFI training
Why is this training important? We want to arm our participants with skills and tools to continuously improve their own lives. With these skills, they are better equipped for success when they get access to land through our SAFI.
“Even though training is just one part of our SAFI, it dawned on me that small contributions can have a big impact. I hope you feel the same with your support and purchase of Purpose Tea.”
Not only are you doing something good for yourself by consuming antioxidant-rich purple tea, but your purchase contributes to improving the lives of female tea pickers, some of the most under-appreciated stakeholders in the business of tea. We should all feel good about that.
We strive to Open Goodness™ with every bottle of tea, for your health and for the world.
Founder & CEO