Starbucks  is launching an initiative in Costa Rica which will guarantee supplies of coffee and also support the coffee farmers there. According to Drinks Business Review Online:
“Starbucks has set up the Starbucks Coffee Agronomy Company. Part of the company’s role will be to support coffee farmers through loans, training and education on sustainability. It will also invest in regional social programs and protecting ecosystems. One of the most important aspects of the program will be to demonstrate a long-term commitment to coffee farmers and their families. The Seattle-based firm hopes to forge strong links between the company and individual farmers, thus protecting its supply and improving its image with customers.”
As the article points out, Starbucks is being shrewd in dealing with both the business issues and the social issues surrounding its business. Skeptics will say that Starbucks is motivated solely by its own interests. Maybe so, but Starbucks is attempting to do more than most large corporations which are supplied by developing countries. If the program is even halfway successful, it could be a big boost for the small individual farmers who supply Starbucks. And it is a good example of how big business can lend a helping hand to small business — in a partnership that works for both sides.