B Corp Amavida Runs Across Congo in Support of Gender Equality

(3BL Media and Just Means) - Seven days, seven marathons. The Run Across Congo has created huge awareness for gender equality in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Women runners from around the U.S. gathered together along the shores of Lake Kivu to partner with and encourage female farmers. Run Across Congo was organized by On the Ground, a nonprofit committed to supporting sustainable community development in farming regions across the world. Awareness and funds raised from Run Across Congo will create programs to increase access to knowledge, land, income and health care that enables Congolese women to run their own businesses. It will also support Lemera Hospital, a hub for women who are the victims of sexual aggression.

Amavida Coffee & Tea, one of the founding B Corps in Florida, supported the effort by sending their Director of Public Relations, Marketing and Outreach, Casey Tindell-Trejo, as a marathoner. Tindell-Trejo says the gender equality was very evident.

“We ran through many towns where women were hunched over, carrying 150 pounds of wood on their backs while the men sat around drinking beer. Women are treated like workhorses,” says Tindell-Trejo.

Though the men operate and administer the fair trade cooperatives, Congolese women are responsible for working in the fields.  They often have children on their backs as they pick the coffee cherries. Women are also responsible for raising the children, cleaning and cooking. And, their voices are silenced.

“Any time we spoke to a woman, a man would come up behind her and whisper in her ear. But the room would get quiet any time a man spoke,” says Tindell-Trejo.

Through their direct trade relationship with coffee cooperatives in the DRC, Amavida helps to fund a gender equality, education program called the Gender Action Learning System. Tindell-Trejo says there was a very noticeable difference in the interactions between men and women who participated in this program.

“The men would move aside and allow their wives to speak for themselves. The women were more relaxed,” she says.

So what would compel a team of women to run through a nation where women are marginalized and oppressed?

“A women-only team of marathoners taking the risk of running through the DRC demonstrates that Congolese women desperately need our support. We took on this huge, crazy feat to show how much we care,” says Tindell-Trejo.

An immediate need is for supplies at the Lemera hospital. Rape victims walk several days through mountainous terrain with their children to receive medical attention. On the Ground is working to provide $5,000 in funding for the hospital. To raise ongoing support, Amavida implemented a wooden coin campaign in their cafes. Every time a customer brings in a reusable mug, they are given a wooden coin that represents a 20-cent donation from Amavida to Project Congo. Last month, Amavida donated $300.  For them, it’s a win-win for both their environmental and social goals. They continually look for ways to deepen their impact.

“We meet every Monday morning as a team to discuss how we can improve our social and environmental impact. Our Benefit Director is constantly trying to partner with other B Corps and grow a stronger network of them in Florida,” says Tindell-Trejo.

Giving back to the local community of Santa Rosa Beach and to their coffee cooperatives is part of Amavida’s DNA. They were founded on the circular model of coffee buying.

“We buy at fair trade prices, continue improving our knowledge and craft to be able to provide the best coffee in the industry, give back to our community and then complete the circle by finding more ways to support our farmers. The cycle should never end, and should create partnerships that always build upon each other,” described Tindell-Trejo in an April interview.

Amavida Coffee and Tea is leading the B Corp movement in Florida’s panhandle. Their dedication to local and global impact is impressive. It’s also the B Corp way. I, for one, can’t wait to get my favorite mug filled up with their freshly roasted coffee from their Congo cooperative. And of course, drop my wooden coin into their donation bucket. Cheers to you Amavida for “loving life with every cup.”

Source Amavida coffee by the pound or wholesale. Donate to Project Congo via On the Ground.