Tazo and Mercy Corps
Tazo sources our teas, spices and botanicals from communities around the world. In partnership with Mercy Corps, Tazo is working to create lasting change in these communities.
For over 10 years, we’ve helped improve the quality of life in 200+ tea- and cardamom-producing communities in Assam and Darjeeling, India, and Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. We’re transforming lives by building healthier communities, empowering youth and creating economic opportunities.
Over 84,000 lives touched
(with more affected every day)
Stories of change
Floridalma was a first-time mother at 17 years old, and her labor did not go as planned. She was in desperate need of emergency transportation to the hospital. Fortunately, with training and support from Tazo and Mercy Corps, her community had established an emergency fund for women and children needing critical care.
Because they had contributed to it, Floridalma and her husband knew the fund was available. They were able to quickly get the money to transport Floridalma so that she and her baby would stay safe. Relieved, she says, “If I didn’t have access to the emergency fund, I might have died or my baby would have died.” The emergency fund loan is interest-free for three months. Floridalma and her husband were able to repay their loan in just three weeks and focus on their family.
Erwin is a 16-year-old high school student. Thanks to youth training programs made possible by Tazo and Mercy Corps, he is learning business and life skills he can use in the future to supplement his income.
Erwin was chosen by his peers, all of them participants in the youth training programs, to lead a group of 15 young people in a business project. Starting small with their first crop, they were able to take their profits and parlay them into a large crop of pineapples. In regard to what he learned leading this successful project, Erwin says,“… in the group, the leader is not the one ordering and deciding everything … this role has shown me that a leader not only leads but he works, too.”
Margarita was widowed when her four children were very young. Her cardamom crop produced income during harvest season, but the offseason often left her without income, leading to hunger and health problems in her family.
Through programs made possible by Tazo and Mercy Corps, Margarita learned how to grow a variety of crops and increase her production. She has now become a successful businesswoman, able to feed her family year-round and sell the surplus food for a profit. She has accomplished all this as a single mother of four. Now, her children have grown, with one son in college, two daughters in high school and one son working on the farm.
She says of her change, “I have become more empowered since the program came here. I have the opportunity and right to learn, and to participate in decision-making processes in my community.”
Miguel is a community volunteer. He monitors the health of the 110 families in his area. Most of these families do not have the money to pay for emergency transportation to medical facilities. Tazo and Mercy Corps help these communities build emergency funds for women and children needing critical care and rapid transport, and also provide training for volunteers like Miguel.
Some of the problems Miguel sees in his community include insufficient prenatal care, birth complications and child malnutrition. Much of his time is spent identifying malnourished children. When he finds suffering children, he works to get them access to supplemental food and connects their mothers to nutritional training. In dire situations, the children are transferred to a hospital using the community fund.
Miguel is proud of the way health has improved in his community. “Our health is 100% better than three years ago. Children and women were very sick before … Now we have clean houses and better services for mothers.”
Claudia is 20 years old. Her mother, Olivia, is a prominent women’s group leader in their community. Watching the difference her mother has made in other people’s lives has made Claudia feel more optimistic about her own future.
The youth programs made possible by Tazo and Mercy Corps encourage young people like Claudia to actively participate in their communities. Claudia accepted a leadership role on one of the local youth committees, where her determination and outspoken style set her apart from her peers.
Claudia is also unusual in that, unlike most young women in her community, she is still unmarried. She is currently focused on her education, and is studying nursing at the university in the closest city. She says, “If I expect things to happen for me, I won’t get to where I want to be. That is why I have to work for the things that I want.”
Olivia was a housewife with four children when she started her training in household management and business development, made possible by Tazo and Mercy Corps. She gained more confidence and realized that she could improve the future for herself, her family and her community.
After her training, Olivia became the first elected female community leader in her area, and a role model in a culture where women are traditionally quiet. She explains, “Before, no one talked to each other; what they did before is hide and not talk. But now the majority have their heads up and they express what they are feeling.”
Women in Olivia’s area often lack the knowledge needed to make the most of their resources. She has spent the past three years training women in skills like household management, sanitation, nutrition, empowerment and self-esteem, and reproductive health. She has helped these women increase their ability to make money, improve the well-being of their families and have the confidence to make their voices heard.
Vilma is a 24-year-old mother of four. Like many families in Alta Verapaz, hers used to eat a limited diet of corn and beans, which can often lead to malnutrition. Since 2010, Tazo and Mercy Corps have partnered to teach women like Vilma how to incorporate a wider variety of nutritious foods into their meals. These foods include plantains, yucca, maize, pineapples, cocoa and malanga (a root much like a sweet potato).
Vilma says, “We now know how to prepare different foods and know that it’s healthier for us than snacks like chips they sell at the store.”
Because of this more well-rounded diet, Vilma’s children get sick less often and are more attentive in school. When her children are older, Vilma plans to teach them what she has learned so they can apply that knowledge to their own families.
Lidia, a soft-spoken young woman, becomes passionate when she speaks about youth empowerment. Lessons in communication, self-esteem and reproductive health, made possible by Tazo and Mercy Corps, are particularly important to her. “The most important thing I learned in the … trainings is my self-value [and] to be involved in my community. This reminds me to respect others and support those that need support the most,” she says.
Lidia aspires to be a role model, especially for girls. She teaches young people in her community about business development, improved crop production and health. The youth program has helped Lidia and her peers develop new perspectives on the future for themselves and for their communities as a whole.
Julio once grew only a small parcel of cardamom. He was a single father of two small children and was barely meeting their basic needs. He worked on other people’s land during the offseason to get the extra money he needed.
But now, using business and agricultural skills learned through training programs made possible by Tazo and Mercy Corps, Julio has expanded his own farm to over one acre. He started with just 100 pineapple seeds but slowly expanded into new fields and new crops, including manioc, yucca, cocoa, plantains and coconuts.
Julio sells his produce locally but has enough surplus that he is looking for new markets that buy in larger quantities. He employs two people to help with the larger fields. Julio is now married, with another child on the way. He says, “If we are to be entrepreneurs, we need opportunities to sell our products. Mercy Corps showed me that I can find markets and opportunities — that there is a market that I can meet the needs of.”
three paths to improvement
improving wellness, improving lives
Healthy people are more able to contribute positively to their communities. Tazo and Mercy Corps partner to improve community wellness through education initiatives and increased access to clean water and health services
75% of participating families improved their hygiene practicesin Alta Verapaz, Guatemala
Incidence of waterborne disease dropped 60% in participating communitiesin Darjeeling, India
96% increase in hand washing by program participants in Darjeeling, India
planting the seeds of change
We believe providing opportunities for youth can lift up entire communities. Through workshops, scholarships and apprenticeship programs, Tazo and Mercy Corps are providing young people with chances to learn, set goals and work toward realizing their dreams.
100+ young people developed community improvement projectsin Alta Verapaz, Guatemala
775 students received academic tutoringin Assam, India
296 students awarded scholarships for higher educationin Assam, India
creating new opportunities
Connecting people to the resources they need can allow communities to thrive. Through initiatives targeting farm productivity, resource management, business development and more, Tazo and Mercy Corps help people build more resilient livelihoods.
500 families in 10 communities raised their income by over 18%in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala
1,500 micro-entrepreneurs supportedin Assam, India
Over 200 profitable small businesses createdin Darjeeling, India
empowering people in more than 40 countries to recover from crisis, build better lives and transform their communities for goodLearn More