Teatulia: A Tea Company Helps Lift a Village Out of Poverty
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — For some businesses, giving back means making a tax-deductible donation to a local little league team. But for Teatulia, an organic tea company, giving back means creating a better life for a community halfway around the globe.
The two-year-old startup has done what many companies cannot or will not, which is marry a revenue-growing business with a thriving social responsibility program.
The Denver company sells organic tea that is now sold in Whole Foods and Harrods. And its business relationship with a tea garden in Bangladesh is helping to lift a village out of poverty by providing employment, as well as educational and wealth-building programs.
The company’s high quality product and do-good-in-the-world story is fueling its success.
“If we were bringing out Joe Tea, it would be very hard,” said Linda Appel Lipsius, co-founder and CEO of the company. “If you don’t have a story and if you don’t have an interesting angle, what’s the point?”
Teatulia was founded by Lipsius and friend Kazi Anis Ahmed, who is from Bangladesh and owns several businesses in the country with his family.
One of the businesses was a tea garden in the Tetulia region in Northern Bangladesh. Lipsius did some research on tea and thought that it would sell well in the United States.
She and Ahmed set up Teatulia, which would buy its tea from Ahmed’s garden. A big selling point would be that the tea is grown without pesticides.
It turned out that Lipsius was on the right track. The demand for regular and specialty tea — or tea of a very high quality or coming from a well known tea-growing region — was building in the United States, despite the recession.