July 13, 2014 00:00
By Nichapa Tulyasathien
Donations from Lang Suan branch earmarked for tribes in Chiang Mai
For a year, patrons of Starbucks Coffee (Thailand)’s Lang Suan branch have helped contribute Bt1.5 million to the café chain’s charitable programme aimed at improving the lives of tribal villagers in Chiang Mai.
With that money, raised in cooperation with the Integrated Tribal Development Programme (ITDP), a learning centre will be built to help teach agriculture and mechanical skills to farmers in Mae Khee Muk Noi and Kong Kai villages of Mae Chaem district.
“We are not only serving customers but also giving back to communities with a sustainable way to create a positive change,” managing director Murray Darling said last week.
After Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz opened Starbucks Lang Suan, Bt10 was collected from each cup of coffee sold at the outlet and 5 per cent from the sales of its Muan Jai Blend coffee.
The company’s corporate social responsibility programme reflects its commitment to creating a positive change in Thailand’s community and its 15 years in Thailand. The Seattle-based company established its Thai operation in 1998.
Thailand was selected as the first country outside the US to host the fourth global Starbucks community store.
“After being inaugurated last year, the Lang Suan community has got positive feedback from customers. I would like to say thank you to Starbucks Lang Suan customers for participating in the project.
“The donations will be allotted to various aspects in community development,” said Mike Mann, director of ITDP, a non-profit organisation.
“We have helped over 30,000 lives, 350 villages and six tribes in the North and have been cooperating with Starbucks for more than 10 years.”
The project focuses on sustainability by building long-term advantages for the communities rather than quantity.
“We support not only farmers, but also their children. As they get older, they will know how to live in the community,” Darling said.
The project has led dependents to enjoy a better quality of life.
“Farmers, partners (employees) and especially customers all become important parts of the project,” said Sumonpin Jotikabukkana, a marketing manager of Starbucks.
“Everyone is attributable to the success of this project.”
With its strong base for coffee production, Thailand is one of Starbucks’ coffee sources and the place where the company created its own coffee brand, Muan Jai Blend.
Lang Suan is highlighted as the first community store of Starbucks in Thailand and for now, it will be the only one.
“Many Lang Suan customers may have never visited the farming communities in the North of Thailand. Over the past year, the Starbucks community store and our baristas have bridged those two communities, allowing the people in the Lang Suan neighbourhood to contribute to making the lives of the people in a distant, challenged coffee-growing community stronger,” he said.
The first three Starbucks community stores located in Los Angeles, New York and Texas have already generated US$1 million in contributions to the project.
In 2003, Starbucks introduced Muan Jai Blend – sourced in the North, where many hilltribe villagers are growing the high quality Arabica beans. The blend was Starbucks Coffee (Thailand)’s brainstorm to help support water and sanitation and education projects to benefit the hilltribe coffee-growing community.