Is Social Justice Your Cup of Tea? BC Man Aims to Help Kenyan Farmers

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Many of us drink our morning or afternoon cup of tea without a thought as to where it comes from. Entrepreneur Grayson Bain is determined to change that.

Bain’s vision led to the creation of JusTea, the world’s first direct-trade partnership between tea drinkers and tea farmers in Kenya. Bain attends Nelson Avenue Community Christian Reformed Church in Burnaby, British Columbia.

Kenya is one of the top three exporters of tea in the world, and most of the crop is grown by over half a million small-scale farmers. However, many of these farmers receive only a small portion of the profits, earning less than $2 per day selling their tea to large companies.

JusTea goes beyond fair trade and eliminates the “middleman” entirely by providing the equipment and training the farmers need to hand-process their own tea in small processing kitchens. The result is a high-quality artisan tea made without costly electricity-dependent factory machinery. JusTea then buys the tea and sells it directly to the consumer, thereby providing a living wage for the farmers and their families.

“With direct trade, the tea consumer knows the name and location of the tea production, can understand the nature and environmental condition of the tea growing area, and find out about social, political or economic factors in the specific area that their tea is grown. Simply, the tea drinker can begin a relationship with the tea grower in Kenya,” explained Bain.

Bain, who has already travelled to Kenya to meet with farmers, will return this fall to build the first tea processing kitchen with local partners, and he doesn’t plan to stop there.

“This is the nexus of a vision that sees justice and mercy shown through direct trade with farmers. In the future we can expand to other countries and farmers faced with similar injustices to Kenya’s tea farmers,” said Bain.

About the Author

Tracey Yan is the Banner's regional news correspondent for classes British Columbia North-west and British Columbia South-east.

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