Chris Fontana, Executive Director of Global Visionaries, says he believes that businesses and non-profit organizations should have the triple bottom line: the procedure of business turning a profit, while promoting social justice and benefiting the environment.
“There shouldn’t be a difference between the way a business leader and a non-profit leader conducts,” Fontana said. “We should all be looking out for the greater social good.”
In fact, Fontana doesn’t consider Global Visionaries a non-profit but a social and environmental profit.
There are several businesses that fit this description and are not just providing for themselves but also the community. These businesses operate not just to make money for the owners but to give back to the community usually by supporting a specific cause. They are called “conscious businesses” because they are concerned with the greater social need and exist to serve the many not just the few.
Social conscious businesses are gaining popularity. According to the 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study; 83 percent of Americans wish more of the products, services and retailers they use would support causes. In Seattle, conscious business is often times paired with coffee.
Direct trade coffee is the manner in which some coffee roasting companies acquire their coffee. According to ROASTe, direct trade is also known as “relationship coffeee” because the coffee roasters personally know the coffee farmers. Unlike fair trade, direct trade is informal and does not have regulations. Usually a coffee grower receives less than 1 percent of the profit, according to Talk About Coffee. Fair trade coffee growers make $.20-$.30 per pound and direct trade coffee farmers make up to $1.60 per pound, according to Ethical Coffee.
Seattle Coffee Works, located at 107 Pike Street, is serving a greater cause by selling direct trade coffee from Guatemala. According to Seattle Coffee Works, nothing makes them happier than working directly with a farmer to provide the farmer with the resources “to produce the highest quality coffee possible”. In the past, Seattle Coffee Works has supported GV by donating coffee to their fundraiser auction.
The selection of their coffee include varieties from Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Costa Rica, Sumatra, Peru, Panama, Brazil and India .
Global Visionaries has created a direct partnership with coffee makers in Guatemala. The youth on the Coffee work team work with the farmers to learn about the process of growing coffee beans and roasting the coffee. The students learn about the cultivation of coffee as well as the business side of coffee production.
“[GV] is the organization that collaborated so that a group of young people can realize their dreams of forming a company and at the same time supporting farmers in our villages,” Oscar Garcia said.
Espresso de Esperanza is a direct trade coffee roasting company that was founded by youth in Guatemala and is still operated by young people. Global Visionaries has been partnering with Espresso de Esperanza for four years. Every year Global Visionaries students sell Espresso de Esperanza’s coffee to fund their trip to Guatemala earning $4 for each bag that is sold.
According to Oscar; Espresso de Esperanza sells coffee in Guatemala but most sales come from exports to the US. Oscar describes the connection between Espresso de Esperanza and GV as more than a business relationship but a friendship.
The coffee sold by Espresso de Esperanza is grown by farmers of the San Miguel Escobar and San Pedro Las Huertas areas. “Farmers have small plots where they grow good quality coffee,” Oscar said.
Oscar said that Espresso de Esperanza is going to continue to be a company that “promotes economic development and service for small coffee farmers and to give young people an opportunity to pay for college.”
“We hope to achieve this by increasing exports in the United States, opening new markets in American and European countries,” Oscar said.
Coffee connects people locally but also connects people globally. The examples of both Seattle Coffee Works and Espresso de Esperanza show us that one cup of coffee can make a difference. The lives of the farmers are impacted with each cup of coffee that we drink.