Conservation International & Starbucks expand partnership, launch Verde Ventures loan program

01/22/04

Half-a-decade partnership continues with multi-million dollar commitment to reduce challenges facing small-scale coffee producers while conserving the environment

SEATTLE; January 22, 2004 -- Starbucks Coffee Company (Nasdaq: SBUX) and Conservation International (CI) today announced a $2.5 million direct loan by Starbucks to help capitalize CI's newly launched Verde Ventures fund. The fund helps provide direct access to affordable credit for small-scale coffee producers. Starbucks support is the largest loan commitment of its kind provided by a specialty coffee company. This new agreement extends Starbucks and CI's five-year partnership with an additional three-year, $1.5 million grant to support CI's Conservation Coffee™ program to conserve the environment while providing economic opportunities for coffee farmers.

"Starbucks values are reflected through its supply efforts and our involvement with Verde Ventures demonstrates our desire to address the pressing issues that coffee farmers face today," said Orin Smith, president and ceo of Starbucks Coffee Company. "We hope that farmers will utilize their loans for conservation coffee production that protects the Earth's natural resources, improves their livelihoods, and provides Starbucks with sustainably grown, high quality coffee."

CI will use Starbucks financing of the Verde Ventures program to provide pre- and post-harvest loans and capital improvement financing to coffee producers. With Verde Ventures, Starbucks and CI are taking a leadership role in the coffee industry to address some of the financial challenges facing small-scale coffee producers.

Most of the loans will be distributed to small-scale producers in Central and South America. To date, three loans totaling nearly $435,000 have been approved for participants of the Conservation Coffee™ program in Chiapas, Mexico, and a cooperative of organic coffee farmers in Sumatra. CI owns and manages Verde Ventures, a $6 million investment fund which strengthens small and medium-sized enterprises contributing to biodiversity conservation in CI's priority areas through debt and equity financing of $100,000 - $500,000.

"By extending our partnership for another three years, Starbucks is demonstrating a real commitment to support CI's Conservation Coffee program and our recently formed Verde Ventures fund," said Peter Seligmann, chairman and ceo of CI. "This partnership is demonstrating that the coffee industry can produce high quality coffee while protecting the environment and providing economic opportunities for coffee farmers."

"I consider the Conservation Coffee™ program to be a great benefit to the region, especially for coffee producers. Through this project, CI is giving us the opportunity to use best practices for conservation coffee," said Roberto Silvino Hernandez Lievano, president of the Comon Yaj Nop Tic cooperative, one of the organizations receiving funds from the loan program. "Furthermore, the program has helped us find a market that values all that our coffee offers. Starbucks knows our work and the effort we are making in our fields, and offer us a better price that directly benefits the producers and frees us from intermediaries."

In another significant move, Starbucks has renewed its partnership with CI with a total cash contribution of $1.5 million over the next three years. Starbucks and CI will continue to promote environmentally sound coffee cultivation in the manner that improves the livelihood of coffee farmers, work to expand Starbucks green coffee sourcing guidelines program, and communicate the partnership to Starbucks customers and CI audiences.

Since Starbucks and CI began working together in 1998, the collaboration has produced significant benefits for habitat conservation and farmer livelihoods in Mexico, Colombia and Peru. Additionally, high quality coffees from Conservation Coffee™ projects are now available to Starbucks customers across North America and select international markets, including Organic Shade Grown Mexico, Decaf Shade Grown Mexico, Conservation Colombia and Starbucks Peru.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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