Starbucks Origin Grants

Starbucks has a long history of working with coffee and tea origin communities to address their most critical needs such as access to water, sanitation, health and education. Since 2005, the Foundation has awarded more than $20 million in Origin Grants to organizations working in coffee and tea sourcing communities, including Mercy Corps, Eastern Congo Initiative, Heifer International and others, to support smallholder farming families with vocational training, increased access to water and health services, and greater economic opportunity in coffee and tea-growing communities. Learn more at

Mercy Corps: Advancing Economic Opportunity in India’s Tea Communities

The tea industry is India’s largest employer of women—making up 80 percent of its workforce. However, many tea workers in India are geographically isolated and tea families face challenges of poor quality education, low connectivity and limited access to the tools, support and resources they need to realize a brighter future for themselves and their families.

For more than 13 years, Mercy Corps has partnered with The Starbucks Foundation to work in tea communities to improve the quality of life in Assam and Darjeeling, India. Manjula, 24 is an example of one of more than 100,000 people impacted by this partnership. Manjula has sorted tea for many years, and wanted to do more. She jumped at the chance to become a teacher through Mercy Corps’ pre-primary and nursery school teacher training.

Manjula experienced the failings of the school system growing up herself, not learning to read or write until later in her education. The teacher training offered her an alternate livelihood and the chance to ensure young students receive the educational support she didn’t have when she was younger. Since completing the training, Manjula has started an after-school program at her home, hosting up to 120 students every day and using the time to help them learn basic skills, build confidence and develop a desire to succeed.

Starbucks and Mercy Corps’ long-standing partnership and commitment has improved the living conditions, diversified economic opportunities and empowered individuals in tea producing communities to improve their circumstances.

Heifer International: Empowering Mbozi Women with Economic Opportunity

The Starbucks Foundation and Heifer International are working together to sustainably improve livelihoods for 5,000 smallholders in Tanzania. The project includes placement of heifers with families as an additional source of family nutrition and income, improving access to clean water and sanitation facilities, and WASH education at the household and school level. The project also distributed fuel efficient stoves that have reduced use of charcoal and freed up women’s time to focus on entrepreneurship and family, and is trialing the use of bio-digesters to generate fuel for cooking with many beneficial environmental outcomes.

Fainnes Lianda, a beneficiary of the work, shared that before getting this training, she never thought of passing on gifts to others and everything she possessed was for herself and her family members. “For the first time in my life, this year I have given a piece of “khanga”, a blouse and 20 kg of peanuts to my friend who is ill. This woman suffers from stroke and in the past, I have been seeing her suffering, but I never thought of helping her. Thanks to Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones training that enabled me to help this woman in need. She must be happy on what I have done.”

Heifer’s 12 Cornerstone training has also created self-confidence among the group members. Contrary to the past, they can now can stand in front of other people in the village and teach them how best they can look after their cattle. “We are now trusted women in Shiwinga village. We confidently teach our fellow villagers on how best they can look after their cattle. This includes proper feeding, cattle sheds’ cleaning as well as milk handling and hygiene. Thanks to Heifer International for creating confidence in us through providing us with knowledge on improved animal and resources management” said the group members.

To learn more about Heifer International’s 12 Cornerstones, visit

Eastern Congo Initiative: Creating New Opportunities for Economic Empowerment in North and South Kivu

Since 2015, Starbucks has helped provide women in coffee growing communities of the Democratic Republic of Congo with economic equality and freedom by creating new opportunities for social and economic development. The Starbucks Foundation and Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI) have partnered to construct new, eco-friendly coffee processing stations in North and South Kivu, and are providing training to women on coffee cultivation, processing, business management and more. These new stations and skillsets provide work for women in the region, so they have more control over how money is spent in their households. The project also supports the development of an agro-business course at the Christian Bilingual University of Congo (UCBC) in North Kivu. Thus far, The Starbucks Foundation’s funding has provided 19 scholarships for women studying agro-business.

[Mawazo Mirindi, a member of the CCKA cooperative supported through the ECI project, photo credit: Clay Enos]

One recipient is Hekima Kalumbi. Young women like Hekima are the future of Congo. Thanks to a scholarship provided by Starbucks, Hekima is enrolled in the Agribusiness Program at UCBC. Through this program, Hekima is learning how crops are grown, harvested and sold, preparing her to enter the workforce after she graduates. Like so many young Congolese women, Hekima wants to help lead her country to a brighter tomorrow. “A leader is someone who works to help others, not themselves,” says Hakima. “UCBC has inspired me to become that kind of leader.”