With formulations named “Throat Coat” and “Breathe Easy,” the popular herbal tea company Traditional Medicinals brings plant-based medicine to homes nationwide. The company purchases herbs from 40 countries, and although all the herbs are organic and many are certified Fair Trade or FairWild, some of those supplier communities remain impoverished. In 2007, the company’s co-founder, Drake Sadler, started the nonprofit Traditional Medicinals Foundation (TMF) with his wife, Nioma. TMF focuses entirely on improving the social and economic conditions in the communities where the teas’ ingredients are sourced.
For example, India’s Thar Desert is one of the driest, hottest places on Earth, and local farmers rely on selling drought-resistant native plants, such as senna, for their livelihoods. Senna, a mild laxative, is one of the main ingredients in Traditional Medicinals Smooth Move teas. After witnessing the social and economic conditions that affect these senna-growing communities, the TMF staff initiated the Revive Project, the largest social development program in an herb-sourcing community. The program has expanded and desilted community ponds and has rebuilt or installed more than 500 household rainwater catchment systems. The project’s staff installed 170 family gardens and established five stud bull centers to improve herd genetics and invigorate milk production. They’ve funded medical camps and have built three multipurpose centers and five schools. TMF has also provided more than 300 bicycles for long-distance students, mostly girls.
Another example of the social business model can be seen in the village of Voden, Bulgaria, where TMF renovated abandoned homes for dozens of marginalized Roma people and provided them employment growing organic herbs for Traditional Medicinals teas. Learn more at Traditional Medicinals Foundation.