Coffee for Water's founder, Dr. Jahan Tavangar, was invited by The Clinton Foundation to attend the first international Haiti Coffee Summit in Furcy, Haiti, which took place on Nov. 15-16. The conference was attended by coffee industry executives and experts from Haiti and the United States. The Prime Minister of Haiti opened the conference, whose goal was to promote the coffee sector of Haiti.
Coffee for Water
In a nut shell a social enterprise is a business and non-profit hybrid. It runs like a business by selling a product or service in order to make a profit, but it earns the profit for the sake of funding its humanitarian or environmental mission. This is also known as the “double bottom line”, which is in contrast to the single bottom line—to make a profit—that a normal company has.
One advantage of establishing a social enterprise for the sake of a humanitarian effort, as opposed to the more traditional non-profit, is that it makes championing the effort more convenient. Because a social enterprise incorporates support for their humanitarian effort into the purchase of their product, an individual is able to get involved in the cause while they behave like a normal consumer. This type of aid provides an alternative to non-profits, which have to rely on charitable donations that require people to spend more money on top or in replacement of what they’re already buying.
Using our own company as an example of a social enterprise in action, if you’re a coffee drinker and you decide to give our Haitian Mountain Blend a try, in addition to satisfying your coffee craving your purchase will also help fund water projects in coffee growing countries. Our product and others like it allow consumers to kill two birds with one stone; they get a product they can use and the chance to help a good cause, all in the same purchase. This type of buying power is what we like to call “empowered consumption”.
One of the most well-known social enterprises is TOMS. TOMS sells shoes using a one-for-one model, which means that any time a customer buys a pair of their shoes TOMs donates a pair of shoes to a child in need. Another popular social enterprise is FEED Projects. They sell a wide range of apparel items, such as hand-bags and T-shirts, and included in every purchase is a set donation that goes towards addressing world hunger. For example, if you purchase their popular “FEED 1 Bag” then in addition to getting a cool bag you’re also providing a single child in Africa with school lunches for an entire year.
If you’re interested in discovering new ways to participate in empowered consumption then check out Roozt.com. Like popular social buying sites Livingsocial and Groupon, Roozt sells coupons that allow you to purchase items at a significant discount, except that all the items they feature are sold by social enterprises. What’s more, Roozt itself is a social enterprise and uses a portion of its profits to fund a humanitarian effort that changes according to the deal they are featuring.
Social enterprises are a small but growing category of company that offer a unique opportunity for buyers to exercise their consumptive powers not just for their own good, but for the world’s as well. We think that’s pretty neat, and hope you do to!
Cholera epidemic in Haiti showing no signs of letting up
A few weeks ago I wrote an article about the presence of cholera in Haiti, and how the disease is not only still prevalent despite predictions that it should be subsiding, but also likely to get worse as the summer rainy season sets in. Now Mid July, signs are suggesting that this new prediction is likely to be a correct one.
Richard Knox of NPR recently wrote an article in which he reports on the cholera epidemic in Haiti. He mentions that according to the Haitian health ministry, between April and June there have been a total of 86,000 new cholera cases, or one-fourth of the total number of cases that have appeared since the outbreak began last fall.
As the disease continues to spread it is placing more and more strain on the aid organizations with operations in Haiti. In June, Partners In Health (PIH), an organization that provides health services to people in poor countries, dealt with over 14,000 cases of cholera at its clinics in Haiti, up from just under 4,000 in April.
(Check out this report generated by the CDC to get more information about the cholera epidemic in Haiti).
To make matters worse, as the case count continues to rise, the funds available for treating the epidemic are dwindling. PIH has been one of the most active non-profits in Haiti both before and after the earthquake hit last year, but it is being stretched to its limits with trying to keep the cholera outbreak at bay.
In a conversation between Cate Oswald, PIH’s Haiti-based coordinator for community health, and NPR’s health blog Shots, Cate talks about the challenges her organization faces: “We have a smaller pool of people responding and similar caseloads to what we were seeing the later part of last year […] So we’re working double-and triple-time with very limited resources. We’re quickly going through dedicated cholera funds”.
If you've read a little bit about Coffee for Water, then you probably know we sell Haitian coffee. And unless you're a true-blue connoisseur of the craft, chances are good that the phrase “Haitian coffee” came as a surprise when you first saw it. Of all the Latin American countries that are known for growing coffee, Haiti is certainly one of the least (if not the least) well known today. But while it may be a surprise to many now, there was a time when Haiti's coffee was not so unfamiliar. In fact, at one time Haitian coffee comprised almost 50% of the world’s coffee supply! It was only after Haiti’s coffee industry suffered from a series of political, economic, and environmental blows that it all but vanished.
In the Past
Haiti has a long history of coffee production. Coffee has been grown there (off and on) for the past several centuries, getting its start while the country was still under French rule during the 18th century. Spurred on by high demand in countries like France and Italy, within a century of being introduced the coffee plant became a staple of Haitian agriculture, causing production to expand and eventually supply a substantial portion of the world's coffee market.
However, Haiti’s coffee industry would not retain its world-class status for long. After Haiti gained its independence from France in the early 19th century it lost an essential connection to the world coffee market; as a result of the country's newly earned freedom it estranged a substantial source of international demand for Haitian coffee. Without the high demand to drive production Haiti’s coffee growing capacity fell. Coffee production then took another hit in the 1970s when the price of coffee dropped, which discouraged farmers from growing it.
Several decades later in the early 1990s, Haitian coffee production declined even further after their largely democratic government was overthrown and replaced by a military regime, causing the U.S. to place a trade embargo on the country. At the same time this was happening, a fungus that kills the coffee plant began to spread throughout the small island nation, virtually extinguishing any coffee production that remained. Haiti's once booming industry was left in ruins.
Look Towards the Future
But now after having had time to recover from its setbacks, Haitian coffee is finally ripe to make a resurgence. With the help of Coffee for Water and other organizations with a taste for the unique coffee, Haitian coffee will one-day return to its former prominence, and in doing so help drive Haiti’s economic development. Help us help Haiti and buy our Haitian Coffee today!
Information sourced from:
Coffee for Water has become a member of the Social Enterprise Alliance (SEA), an organization that allows social enterprises based in North America to take advantage of each other's knowledge and experience. Members have access to a number of services designed to make their businesses more effective, such as SEA's information and capital exchange programs, and their regional networking events. Coffee for Water hopes to use these services in order to provide a better product to our customers, and, most importantly, to improve the impact we have on our humanitarian cause.
We’re excited to learn from and collaborate with our fellow social entrepreneurs!
Coffee growing countries face a number of health-related obstacles that prevent them from developing. Jahan Tavangar recognized that access to clean water is one such obstacle and created Coffee for Water in order to help the communities living in these countries confront it. But there are many other organizations that are involved in coffee-growing communities which, like Coffee for Water, were created because someone recognized a problem and decided to help these communities overcome it. Grounds for Health is one such organization, and this week we had the opportunity to learn more about the important work they do in coffee-growing countries.
15 years ago during a trip to Mexico, its future founders learned that among the women living in the coffee growing communities they were visiting, a large number had cervical cancer and were not receiving the proper treatment for it. Knowing that cervical cancer is not only one of the most treatable cancers there is when detected early on, but also preventable, on that trip they decided to do something about it.
And so Grounds for Health was born, and since that day the people working there have helped coffee-growing communities located in Mexico, Tanzania, and Nicaragua screen more than 20,000 women for cervical cancer. This year will mark their 15th anniversary, and we hope our supporters and customers will join us in wishing them many more successful years to come.
Haiti continues to fight against a cholera outbreak that first appeared last year, despite expectations that the disease was under control and would soon subside. Cholera is contracted by consuming water that is contaminated and unfiltered. According to the World Health Organization, in Port-Au-Prince--Haiti's capital and one of the hardest hit areas by last year's earthquake--there have been over 18,000 new cases of cholera since last month. Some people are worried that things may get worse before they get better.
AlJazeera recently reported on the cholerea outbreak in Haiti, providing some upsetting information on how the disease has already affected the country, and what impact it could have in the near future. As many as 400,000 people in Haiti have been infected with cholera since it reached the country last year, and more than 5,000 of these infections have been fatal. In the report Sanjay Basu, an epidemiologist from the University of California, offers a grim prediction that over the next year the number of people in Haiti who are directly affected by cholera could rise to 800,000, with as many as 11,000 of these infections being fatal. To put this total in perspective, Sanjay goes on to say that "This is in a population of 10 million people, so you're talking about almost 1 in 10 people being directly affected by cholera".
This impact is greater than what UN agencies and other non-governmental organizations had prepared for, prompting fears that the resources needed to face a problem of this magnitude may be lacking. Last Fall the UN predicted that a total of 400,000 people would most likely be impacted by cholera, but, According to Sanjay, this prediction is incorrect because it is based on incorrect assumptions, such as the degree of immunity the Haitian population has to the disease.
While our impact has been moderate so far, we intend to continue our efforts in Haiti and help provide systems that will prevent the infection from spreading. Coffee for Water has funded five water purification projects in Haiti already, and continues to fund more with every bag of coffee we sell.
TotalFacility, a national provider of facility management services with offices in Malvern, Pennsylvania, has switched its office coffee to a Haitian coffee blend sold by Coffee for Water. This is an exciting new development for Coffee for Water because it is our first corporate customer to serve our delicious Haitian coffee! The decision was easy, they tell us, because they like the taste of the coffee and the fact that it supports clean water projects in Haiti. What’s more, switching to our Haitian coffee doesn't require them to do anything different than what they are already doing. “Our employees drink coffee in the office every day. Now they can feel good that their cup of coffee also supports an important humanitarian project ", says Ms. CJ Bieler, TotalFacility's Controller.
Daily Local News, West Chester, PA
April 05, 2011
EAST WHITELAND — From the time Jahan Tavangar was a child, he wanted to help improve the condition of the poor on a global scale.
When Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake in January 2010, he saw a place to start, and he started with the children.
Tavangar dug into his own pocket and took profits from TotalFacility, a company he co-founded with his brother Alex, to pay for the water purification systems he installed himself at schools, hospitals and orphanages in Haiti.
Thus far, Tavangar has made four trips to the island nation, installing five purification systems that have created clean drinking water for 1,000 children.
As Haiti continues to struggle in the aftermath of the earthquake, a subsequent cholera outbreak has killed an additional 4,000 people.
So Tavangar started his campaign to help the world’s poor with a project that is basic to survival.
“You cannot break the cycle of poverty without safe drinking water,” Tavangar said.
In Haiti, he chose water purification system sites based on need.
“But the need is so great,” the 53-year-old Tavangar said, “it breaks your heart to choose which school gets the system.”
As he set up the treatment systems and evaluated need, he came up with a plan for a self-sustaining enterprise that would fund many more systems, a project he calls Coffee For Water.
“Haiti grows very good coffee,” said Tavangar, whose idea was to “leverage their industry for clean drinking water.”
Coffee for water
Tavangar launched Coffee For Water in March on the 19th annual International World Water Day, a world
wide initiative designed to focus attention on the importance of fresh water and to advocate for the sustainable management of fresh water resources.
Coffee for Water is a “social enterprise” but is not a nonprofit. As such, Coffee For Water uses its profits to fund a humanitarian mission.
An online specialty coffee company, Coffee for Water is currently selling Cafe Deluxe Rebo, a Haitian product. But Tavangar said he hopes the company will soon start packaging and selling its own brand.
Tavangar said he buys coffee from growers, paying them a fair price, one considerably higher than they would get from a coffee broker.
Tavangar has done the math.
The proceeds from every 10 bags of coffee purchased from Coffee For Water will provide safe drinking water to a child for one year.
“Have you ever noticed that the coffee-growing countries are very poor?” Tavangar asked. “They don’t reap the benefits (of their work).”
Tavangar’s goal is to expand Coffee for Water to other impoverished coffee-growing counties in east Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The purification technology is provided by One World Environment LLC.
The systems can be powered by solar panels or 12-volt batteries, which makes them ideal for places without reliable electricity, Tavangar explained. The systems use only 80 watts of electricity and require no chemicals.
Eventually, schools or orphanages with the systems in place that have excess water will be able to sell the water for added income, he said.
Growing up in Iran, Tavangar said he read newspaper accounts of war and famine and refugee camps in Africa.
At a young age, he pledged that he would someday help the world’s poorest population.
In 1976, at age 17, he immigrated to the U.S., joining his brother Alex who was a student at the University of Texas in Arlington.
His parents and other siblings joined him later.
Working his way through college holding one, maybe two jobs, Tavangar got his undergraduate degree in Virginia Tech, a master’s degree at the University of California at Davis and a Ph.D. at Utah State University.
His degree is in environmental engineering.
In 1990, Tavangar and his brother Alex founded TotalFacility, a national provider of comprehensive facilities repair and maintenance services, remodeling, retrofits, and project roll-outs.
With a network of more than 30,000 pre-qualified service providers in some 85 trades, TotalFacility offers repair and maintenance management services to retail chains and multi-location commercial property owners.
The company is headquartered in the Great Valley Corporate Center in East Whiteland.
To help raise awareness of Coffee for Water, as well as to fund the program in Haiti, Tavangar said TotalFacility made a donation to the project in the name of his clients over the holidays last year instead of sending out boxes of chocolates.
Each client was notified by e-mail about the “gift.”
The response was heartwarming, said Tavangar, of Tredyffrin. Not only did clients thank TotalFacility for making the donation, but also for not sending chocolates, a gift that had long ago worn out its welcome.
They also asked that TotalFacility keep them updated on Coffee for Water’s good works.
“This is an exciting new chapter in my life,” Tavangar said, adding that living in the U.S. has provided to him a bounty of benefits. “We came with nothing but the money in our pockets. Now we have 30 employees and it is time to give back.”
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Philadelphia-Area Entrepreneur Launches Coffee for Water™, a Humanitarian Enterprise Focused on Protecting Children in Coffee Growing Regions of the world from Waterborne Diseases
Profits from the sale of locally grown coffee will fund life-saving water purification projects in Haiti and other countries. Company was founded by Dr. Jahan Tavangar.
MALVERN, Pa. – March 22, 2011 – Jahan Tavangar, a Philadelphia-area entrepreneur and co-founder of TotalFacility in Malvern, today launched Coffee for Water™, a humanitarian enterprise focused on protecting children in the coffee growing regions of the world from waterborne diseases through funding provided by the sale and/or certification of locally grown coffee. The launch coincides with the 19th annual observance of International World Water Day, an initiative designed to focus attention on the importance of fresh water and to advocate for the sustainable management of fresh water resources.
Coffee for Water™ will purchase and/or certify coffee grown in countries with at-risk child populations. The certified coffee can then be sold with the Coffee for Water™ imprimatur or sold on the Coffee for Water™ website (www.coffeeforwater.com). Profits of coffee sales will fund the purchase and installation of water-purification systems in the coffee-growing country.
The purification technology is provided by One World Environment, LLC, a provider of innovative and affordable water solutions to the developing world. The systems can be powered by solar panels or 12-volt batteries, which makes them ideal for places without reliable electricity. The systems utilize only 80 watts of electricity and require no chemicals.
Coffee for Water will initially focus its efforts on Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Since a January 2010 earthquake, up to 4,000 people have died of cholera in the country. One out of three Haitians lacks access to safe drinking water. But even in its devastated state, Haiti remains the home of many small farms producing high-quality coffee beans.
“Coffee for Water™ is a self-sustaining social enterprise. By partnering with coffee bean-growing countries and promoting the sale of their coffees, we can help those countries use their own natural resources and industry to produce something they do not have in abundance: clean drinking water,” said Dr. Tavangar. “While we are first focusing on Haiti because of last year’s earthquake disaster, we will expand our coffee offerings to other regions of the world as our company continues to grow.”
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