Runa

RUNA was founded in 2009, days after we graduated from college. But our story begins several years earlier, when Tyler was living with the Kichwa people in the Ecuadorian Amazon. It was then he was introduced to guayusa – a naturally caffeinated tree leaf brewed like tea, consumed early in the morning to help interpret dreams and late at night to provide energy and clarity while hunting in the jungle. He loved the earthy flavor, smooth taste, and energy boost he got from the leaf. Living and working in Latin and South America, we both saw how unsustainable activities like logging were enticing ways for people living in the rainforest to pay for education and medicine. We also saw how development projects implemented by NGOs often floundered because they lacked buy-in from local stakeholders. Upon returning to college we teamed up to write the business plan for RUNA. We entered and won several business plan competitions. After graduating from school we moved to Ecuador to begin working with local Kichwa communities to build a guayusa supply chain. Together with these communities we envisioned a business that could share energizing, rich-tasting guayusa with the world – a business that would respect cultural traditions, support small farmers, and maintain the integrity of the Amazon rainforest. RUNA now buys guayusa leaves from over 2,300 farming families. Those leaves are processed in a plant in Ecuador and then shipped to the U.S. where they are shared with a growing number of people. RUNA is proving that businesses in the Amazon can be good for the environment and the preservation of traditional cultural practices while supporting producers and connecting them to consumers around the world. We couldn’t be more excited. – Tyler and Dan See More

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