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Keurig Green Mountain Founder Invests $10M in Future of Fair Trade

Image credit: Fair Trade USA

Bob Stiller — long-time Fair Trade enthusiast and founder of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (now Keurig Green Mountain, Inc) — and his wife, Christine Stiller, recently awarded a monumental $10 million challenge grant to nonprofit organization and leading Fair Trade certifier Fair Trade USA. This investment will help fund three critical work streams aimed at increasing the reach and impact of Fair Trade certification for farmers and workers worldwide.

The grant is particularly unique for Fair Trade USA, as it stipulates that an additional $10 million be raised in order to unlock the funds, for a total goal of $20 million.

“It’s a challenge not only to the organization, but also to other donors and investors out there looking for a tangible way to shift sustainable trade from niche to norm,” said Mr. Stiller. “The idea is to build momentum around this increasingly important work.”

While the largest portion of the gift will fund critical capacity-building programs at origin, the full plan is multifaceted, focusing on:

  1. Building the entrepreneurial capacity of farmers and workers through increased trainings and technical assistance programs, and the deployment of new technologies that enable resilient supply chains and provide critical business management tools
  2. Strengthening the certification model by improving and clarifying standards, and launching a robust new Impact Management System that ramps up data collection and deepens supply chain transparency
  3. Deepening consumer engagement to increase market demand and broaden the availability of Fair Trade Certified™ products

“We have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us,” said Paul Rice, President & CEO of Fair Trade USA, “but we also have a clear plan to get there. Through the philanthropy of individuals like Bob Stiller, we can help channel the power of the world’s largest economy into a leading solution for empowering producers worldwide.”

This generous grant, the largest ever awarded to Fair Trade USA, will also kickstart a momentous new goal for the nonprofit — $1 billion back to Fair Trade farmers and workers by 2020. As a baseline, producers have earned $350 million in additional income through Fair Trade since 1998.

Stiller, who is also a member of Fair Trade USA’s board of directors, added:

“Since entering the coffee industry in 1981, I’ve seen Fair Trade become a staple of better business for producers, companies and consumers. I’m a supporter and a champion, but I’ll also be the first to say that it can do more. We’re only at the tip of the iceberg in terms of potential impact, and I want to see Fair Trade be even more effective, reach more people and begin shifting practices at a larger scale. That’s the challenge I’m extending.”

At New Metrics '14 in September, Fair Trade USA's Mary Jo Cook and Honest Tea's Jenny Burns introduced Fair Trade's new Impact Measurement and Management Framework, which was developed to define, measure and communicate — in a systematic and unified way — the impacts Fair Trade enables for farmers, workers, businesses and consumers. The Framework generates new insight into the complex relationships between value creation, sustainable livelihoods and consumer activation. It is built on a holistic theory of change and relies heavily on analyzing multiple streams of data from the field, as well as academic research and a storytelling component. Later that month, Keurig Green Mountain revealed a robust strategy for building a more resilient supply chain: By continuing its support of Fair Trade, the company said it is aiming to build lasting relationships with its suppliers, and help communities become more robust in tackling climate-driven issues that could impact their supplies over the coming decades.


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