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Tazo And Mercy Corps Launch Partnership For India

Published 09-30-02

Submitted by Starbucks Corporation

PORTLAND, Oregon - Tazo Tea Company and Mercy Corps announced today the launch of a new partnership to support community development in India. The project, called Collaboration for Hope and Advancement in India (CHAI), takes a proactive approach to building strong communities in the tea growing district of Darjeeling where Tazo purchases some of the finest tea available in the world.

CHAI will focus on three key areas that will enhance community quality of life: improving water quality and access, providing vocational training opportunities for youth, and supporting regional self-governing bodies that administer social development projects.

Mercy Corps will design and manage the CHAI project, a three-year $600,000 program funded by Tazo and its business partners. In a unique effort, Tazo has gathered support for CHAI through its tea suppliers, which include tea growers, traders, and brokers, who will contribute a portion of their sales to the project. Starbucks is also supporting this project with a financial contribution. This multi-level endeavor will help ensure the project's long-term viability and success.

"Tazo has long-standing and close relationships with the people in the tea gardens of India," said Steven Smith, Tazo's founder. "The Darjeeling economy is very depressed, recent monsoons have caused extensive damage, and lack of access to clean water has left many people in ill health. We are very pleased to announce our partnership with Mercy Corps to help address these issues."

Mercy Corps conducted a preliminary assessment in Darjeeling last June, recommending CHAI focus on the following areas:

· Tea gardens in India are required by law to provide minimum standards of health care, education, and minimum wages to workers. CHAI will augment existing statutory requirements and improve living conditions for people on tea gardens as well as in the surrounding region.

· Improved water quality and increased access to clean water. In the assessment, women cited water collection as their most time consuming daily task and many tea garden workers are impacted by water-borne health issues.

· Vocational training, especially for youth and males who currently have few employment alternatives, to address alcoholism and other physical and mental health problems.

· Self-governing bodies in the tea producing communities. These groups engage in activities such as microlending, recycling, forestation, and sanitation and home improvement.

Since its inception in 1979, Mercy Corps has worked in 74 countries around the world. The agency currently runs health, agriculture, economic development, capacity building and relief programs in more than 30 countries. The CHAI program represents the largest cash grant Mercy Corps has received from a business partner.

"The CHAI project gives us a remarkable opportunity to bring Mercy Corps' skills in building healthy communities to an underserved part of India," explains Mercy Corps' CEO Neal Keny-Guyer. "Tazo's emphasis on long-term sustainability is very much in line with Mercy Corps' philosophy and we are delighted to team up in this effort."

"We're pleased that the growth of our business has made it possible to contribute on this level," said Tal Johnson, Tazo's president. "CHAI will make a significant and sustainable difference in the lives of people in the tea producing communities."

Tazo-"The Reincarnation of Tea"-was founded in 1994 to rejuvenate an ancient beverage category and has created a mystically large and exotic variety of chai and bottled, iced, filterbag, and full-leaf teas. Tazo, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX),
can be found worldwide in restaurants, cafes, resorts, grocery, specialty and natural food stores, and, of course, Starbucks.

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