Guayaki and the BBC World Challenge

The BBC World Challenge looks for small businesses or projects from around the world that show enterprise and innovation at a grassroots level. The competition is down to its last few days and twelve finalists.

Social entrepreneurs with an environmentally sustainable business model and that increase investment in the local community can win a first prize grant of $20,000 or a second or third prize of $10,000. The grants are to be invested into the project.

One of the twelve finalists is Guayaki, a fair-trade certified seller of organic yerba mate. Yerba mate is a tea-like plant native to South America. It’s brewed much like tea and used as a stimulating drink much like coffee.

The finest quality yerba mate, like coffee, is shade-grown. Guayaki’s yerba mate is grown in the South American rainforest by small farmers. Growing it in the rainforest improves the nutrition and flavor of the yerba mate, but also means that it must be harvested in small batches.

Guayaki’s mission is to steward and restore 200,000 acres of rainforest and create 1000 living wage jobs. To help them along with this mission, just vote for them in the BBC World Challenge. The link takes you to a page where you can vote (just click on the yellow button) and watch a one minute video telling more about the company. Voting ends Friday, so hurry.

If you’re curious to know precisely how purchasing Guayaki yerba mate impacts the environment, they have a calculator set up to tell you just that. For instance, brewing just one teabag per week over the course of a year will save 600 square feet of rainforest. The carbon footprint is actually negative.

Image by JuanPol, used with Creative Commons license.

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