Sunday, March 25, 2007

Pura Vida Coffee: Aligning Money, Meaning, and Mission

Once our basic needs are meet, we have the opportunity to seek higher levels of meaning and satisfaction. Some find meaning in the paid work they do; others find it in volunteering, hobbies, and family ties. Some of us are lucky enough to find vocation and avocation together.
John Sage's concept of philanthropic capitalism has resulted in a wonderful alignment of his money and his mission through the creation of Pura Vida Coffee. Sage was a young dot com success at Microsoft. Like many, he made a bundle, and worked on what to do next. The answer came through his MBA classmate Chris Dearnly who works in Costa Rica, ministering to impoverished urban kids. He brought John a gift of Costa Rican coffee to a reunion and John had an idea which quickly became a business plan, and is now a thriving business: work with Costa Rican farmers, market their fair trade coffee in the United States, and contribute a percentage of their profits to direct services for street kids. This company raises the quality of life for its coffee producers and their families and communities on the production side, and engages people in its projects on the profits side. Pretty neat! Many college campuses buy their product.
I imagine Mr. Sage feels really good about going to work in the morning, knowing he sells a quality product, helps people improve their lives, and takes care of vulnerable children. If this company goes public, I would love to invest in it. In fact, I would love to see a mutual fund with a whole portfolio of these types of philanthropic-capitalistic hybrids. So far I haven't seen such a thing. If anyone knows of one, please share the info.

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