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Mt. Lavinia, Sri Lanka
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

For decades now, Pure Ceylon Tea has been among the top foreign revenue earners for Sri Lanka and has achieved international brand status. But tea plantation workers, the silent heroes who work behind the scenes, have largely been forgotten and neglected. Under British colonial rule, indentured labourers were brought from southern India to serve as cheap labour for the island's tea and rubber plantations. Today their descendants are among the poorest layers of the working class in Sri Lanka and earn a daily basic wage of Rs. 380/-. The tea plantation community forms nearly five percent of the population in Sri Lanka today. These plantation workers have faced social, economic and political isolation through generations. Many workers live with their entire family in small, one-room structures that lack running water and sanitation facilities. They often have little or no access to medical services and lack job security. The situation is is so worse that one in three children in the plantation comminity is classified as underweight and 40 percent of babies born with too-low weight

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The project will create an equitable trading channel by launching a premium tea brand and channel 100 percent of profits to improve the wellbeing of tea plantation workers through the provision of housing, healthcare, clean drinking water and sanitation. The rise of international speciality value chains, such as those for organic and ethical products, will be tapped by the venture to turn it into a sustainable form of revenue generation. This will offer consumers an opportunity to enjoy a quality cup of tea that benefits the lives of tea plantation workers and their families in Sri Lanka.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The fair trade movement is a competing solution to the project we envision. However, a major weakness of the fair trade movement is that it largely works within the current system (i.e. partnerships with mass retailers, multinational corporations etc.) rather than establishing a new fairer, fully autonomous trading system. Fair trade has also lost credibility because they have validated companies like Nestle, which is one of the most boycotted companies in the United Kingdom because of the way it pushes its breast-milk substitutes. After all, the fair trade movement was set up to challenge the practices of companies like Nestle.