As major corporations around the globe are rethinking their business models to achieve the quadruple bottom line (people, planet, profit, and purpose), a group of high school students from the Qualla Boundary is moving into their fourth year of a successful social entrepreneurship venture that uses its proceeds to improve schools in Costa Rica.
Each year, Sequoyah Fund, a nonprofit community loan fund, works with a group of 10 high school students to operate TuYa Café, a coffee business that was originally developed by 2014 program participants. Since it’s launch, TuYa Café has sold over 600 pounds of coffee and earned over $14,000 in revenues.
“Each year with the students is really exciting,” said Hope Huskey, Associate Director of Sequoyah Fund. “They always try – and succeed – in surpassing last year’s sales numbers. It’s great to see their competitive spirit come out to benefit a good cause.”
In addition to sales experience, students get lessons in marketing and business finance through the program. “Our goal is to not only instill entrepreneurial values in our youth, but also to help them understand how they can use these skills to bring good to others, their local communities, and other communities around the world,” related Huskey.
All net profits are directed towards service projects for Costa Rican schools. Participating students actually travel to Costa Rica each summer to provide labor for the improvements. This year’s students focused most of their efforts on Tortugeuro Elementary where they worked on various beautification and technology improvement projects, as well as established a recycling program.
“Our students are always considerate of the environment, and take time to incorporate some kind of environmental aspect into their work,” said Huskey. Last year’s students installed solar panels in Cabecar School, and groups have planted trees the past two years.
Tuya Café is part of the Costa Rica Eco Study Tour, a leadership development program that educates students in the areas of cultural diversity, service, environmental sustainability, and entrepreneurship. The program is made possible through a partnership of the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Cooperative Extension Program, and Sequoyah Fund.
– Cuny Communications on behalf of Sequoyah Fund