Globalization is a bad word at the moment for people on the right and left of the aisle. 84 percent of Americans think that the world is getting poorer and poorer. When the truth is that we’ve nearly eliminated extreme poverty over the course of the last 50 years. People have never had more excess to wealth and globalization and access to a world market is part of the reason.
One reason 84 percent of Americans think the world is getting poorer is likely because the only reports we get on globalization are on failures and not the massive success of brining people out of poverty. We’re shown collapsed sweat shops in Bangladesh or told of poor working conditions and paint whole nations with a broad brush. While not perfect by any means, globalization has given people jobs, food, property, health care, education, and money they simply would not have any other recourse of obtaining. For many, if not most, there is literally nothing else. Since the 1980s, the percentage of people living in extreme poverty has fallen from 44 percent to 9.6 percent. That is a win.
Kenco Coffee knows this and has started an initiative to provide a place to work for at risk youth in Honduras. Honduras has few opportunities for work and is still largely a rural, agrarian nation. Street gangs reign supreme in many parts of the country and make their wealth by threatening violence to anyone who doesn’t pay protection. It’s a vicious cycle of violence and death. Kenco is helping Hondurans fight back sans violence, from their website, “We offer young people a chance of a better life, by training them to be independent coffee farmers with the skills to grow great quality beans.”
The brand has started a coffee school, called Coffee vs Gangs. They aim to train young Hondurans to be coffee farmers and create a new working class of farm owners. From their website, “The first students have completed their year-long course. They’re now building businesses of their own, backed by funding from Kenco.” Objectively this is another chapter in the world economy helping lift those in extreme impoverished conditions out of extreme danger and poverty. Is it perfect? Probably not. Is it better than the status quo? 100 percent.
Kenco isn’t the only company trending towards social activism as a means to sell more product in the developed world. Companies like Starbucks, Patagonia, Dove, and now even Uber have woken up to the fact that social activism sells right now. Even the reverse osmosis of far-right boycotts of companies with a social conscience, still get products talked about. Betting on equality, human rights, and compassion is a win win from a marketing perspective.
And at the end of the day only the hardest of cynics would deride these companies for focusing on helping people even if profit motivation is a driving force. Because they’re still helping people. It’s not perfect, but it’s damn sure something.
(Via Coffee Vs. Gangs)