Runa, a brand that manufactures naturally caffeinated drinks made from the Amazonian leaf guayusa, has received overwhelming support from a number of Hollywood celebrities.
The quickly-expanding beverage company has now added another name to its list of star-studded investors: Leonardo DiCaprio. The environmental activist and Oscar-winning actor has joined the company’s advisory board after investing an undisclosed amount into the business and donated all of his company shares to farmers in Ecuador.
Amazon in Danger
DiCaprio proudly announced that he was joining Runa in its efforts to support the indigenous Amazonian people and protect their homes and communities from exploitation. The environmental activist said Amazon is at a risk from dangerous ranching and agricultural practices that are causing the cutdown of trees in order to make room for cattle farming and growing crops.
The Amazon basin is also a popular spot for miners to extract precious minerals that are used to make everyday goods. But the mining comes at a heavy price: the harmful chemicals used by miners wash into the rivers, killing marine life. Although many mining companies argue that they plant new trees in the rainforest after mining projects, the truth is that forest restoration is almost impossible because of the water and soil contamination from mining which results in loss of ecosystem.
DiCaprio said that the future of Amazonian communities is in danger if environmentalists don’t act quickly. Farmers and miners need to adopt sustainable practices to prevent further degradation of the rainforest. Amazonian locals are currently at the greatest risk from global warming which is why it is important to empower them to stand up against outside interests that are threatening their survival.
Preserving Centuries-Old Tradition
Runa is a company that has taken up a humanitarian and environmental cause for bringing economic prosperity and cultural value to Amazonian communities. The company that was founded by two young college graduates in 2009 has creates thousands of jobs in Ecuador where it buys guayusa leaves for its beverages from over three thousand local farming families.
Guayusa leaves have been traditionally used by native Kichwa communities for making tea over the past many centuries. Runa collects the tea leaves from farmers and sends it to a processing plant in Ecuador after which they are shipped to the U.S.
Tyler Gage, the co-founder of Runa says that at the core of his company’s mission is to create value of Ecuadorean traditions that have been preserved over thousands of years. Gage lived in the rainforest for two years while creating his company to build a network of guayusa suppliers and oversee the construction of the processing plant in Ecuador.
Gage said that local governments don’t care about the Amazonian heritage or culture. They only want to cut down trees to grow as much palm oil as they can for profit. The beverage company’ founders believe in promoting sustainable farming practices by building trade relationships with Ecuadorian farmers who grow products like Guayusa leaves.
A Growing Brand
Runa’s teas are sold in thousands of supermarkets and stores around the country including renowned brands like Whole Foods and Safeway. All products sold by the company are certified Fair trade and free of GMOs.
Ever since 2011, Runa has reported almost 2,000% increase in its revenue and the company made $5 million in sales three years later. By the end of this year, the figure is expected to double.
The company’s advisory board, which already has a number of prestigious names including Yolanda Kakabadse, the president of WWF and Ann Veneman, the director of UNICEF, will welcome Leonardo DiCaprio as the newest member. The Hollywood superstar, who has already made generous donations to a number of social and environmental causes in the past, invested a large sum of money in Runa.
Tatum, who is a huge supporter of Runa beverages, says that drinking the traditional Amazonian tea, which is known for having twice the concentration of antioxidants as green tea, gave him the energy he needed to write his blockbuster film Magic Mike.
During a press conference, Gage thanked all his investors who has supported the great environmental cause and made the beverage company what it is today.