January 23, 2004 (ENS): Small scale coffee
producers will have new access to affordable credit
through a $2.5 million loan from Starbucks Coffee Company
to Conservation International, both organizations announced
Through its Verde Ventures fund, Conservation International
(CI) will provide both pre-harvest and post-harvest
loans and capital improvement financing to coffee producers.
CI owns and manages the $6 million investment fund which
strengthens small and medium-sized enterprises contributing
to biodiversity conservation in CI's priority areas
through debt and equity financing of $100,000 to $500,000.
Starbucks support is the largest loan commitment of
its kind provided by a specialty coffee company, and
it is intended to address some of the financial challenges
facing coffee producers.
The loans will help the coffee producers avoid being
victimized by middle men who may use their position
of relative power over farmers to purchase the crop
at a price below the market rate and sell to agricultural
merchants at a huge profit. The middle man is in a particularly
strong position if the farmer has debts to pay or needs
a quick sale to buy food or medicine.
Most of the loans will be distributed to producers
in Central and South America. To date, three loans totaling
nearly $435,000 have been approved for participants
of the Conservation CoffeeT program in Chiapas, Mexico,
and a cooperative of organic coffee farmers in Sumatra.
"Starbucks values are reflected through its supply
efforts and our involvement with Verde Ventures demonstrates
our desire to address the pressing issues that coffee
farmers face today," said Orin Smith, president
and CEO of Starbucks Coffee Company.
"We hope that farmers will utilize their loans
for conservation coffee production that protects the
Earth's natural resources, improves their livelihoods,
and provides Starbucks with sustainably grown, high
This new agreement extends Starbucks and CI's five
year partnership with an additional three year, $1.5
million grant to support CI's Conservation Coffee program
to conserve the environment while providing economic
opportunities for coffee farmers.
"By extending our partnership for another three
years, Starbucks is demonstrating a real commitment
to support CI's Conservation Coffee program and our
recently formed Verde Ventures fund," said Peter
Seligmann, chairman and CEO of CI. "This partnership
is demonstrating that the coffee industry can produce
high quality coffee while protecting the environment
and providing economic opportunities for coffee farmers."
Since Starbucks and CI began working together in 1998,
the collaboration has produced significant benefits
for habitat conservation and farmer livelihoods in Mexico,
Colombia and Peru.
In Starbucks coffee shops consumers can purchase the
results of this collaboration as coffees called Organic
Shade Grown Mexico, Decaf Shade Grown Mexico, Conservation
Colombia and Starbucks Peru.