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Toms to sell coffee beans to fund clean water project

Toms is well known for its philanthropic business practices; for each pair of shoes sold a pair is given to someone in need.

By Ananth Baliga
Toms founder Blake Mycoskie developed his philanthropic model after he visited Argentina in 2006 and witnessed the hardships faced by children growing up without shoes. (Credit:Toms)
Toms founder Blake Mycoskie developed his philanthropic model after he visited Argentina in 2006 and witnessed the hardships faced by children growing up without shoes. (Credit:Toms)

LOS ANGELES, March 12 (UPI) -- The makers of Toms shoes will start selling bags of coffee beans that will fund one week of clean water for someone in need in a developing country.

The philanthropic business, which is run under the One-for-One business model, will extend its philanthropic reach by providing water through Water for People, a nonprofit that works in the same countries where Toms is getting its coffee. Toms will sell six varieties of coffee in 12-ounce bags, with one variety each from Guatemala, Honduras, Malawi, Peru and Rwanda.

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"Through my travels, I found that some of the greatest coffee comes from developing countries," said Toms founder Blake Mycoskie in a statement. "I learned that the largest ingredient in coffee is water, and that in many of the countries producing coffee, there are huge populations of people without access to safe water."

The company said its inspiration for the initiative came from a 2012 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study that said 1.8 billion people globally did not have access to safe drinking water.

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“When we started as a shoe company, we knew nothing about footwear,” Toms writes on its website. “But starting from scratch only made us work that much harder.”

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Toms was founded in 2006 and began selling shoes, donating a pair to someone in need in a developing country for each pair sold. The company applied the same model to eyewear, using revenue generated from those sales to donate eye glasses and pay for glaucoma surgeries for people in other countries.

To date, Toms has sold more the 10 million shoes and restored the eyesight of 200,000 people.

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