Costa (Costa Foundation)

Helping communities grow - Costa Foundation

Friday 9 June 2017, by Nuria Rey Benítez

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A. The main facts about the activities of the company.

Costa Coffee is a British coffeehouse company, that serves coffee, tea, sandwiches and ice drinks. It was founded in London in 1971 by the Costa family but then, it was acquired by Whitbread in 1995. Since then, it has grown to more than 3,500 stores across 31 countries.

Nowadays Costa Coffee has very strict standards when it comes to delivering coffee, all their beans are 100% Rainforest Alliance certified. As we can see, the company does not only care about their quality of coffee, also they promote a better community growth investing a lot in CSR activities. In 2006, Costa Coffee set up the Costa Foundation to provide access to education in subjects such as health, literacy and income management to coffee growing communities. At the present, the Foundation has built over 40 schools in some of the world’s poorest areas and it still goes on. The main idea is to eradicate poverty in these communities.

B. The Ethical challenges this company is addressing.

This company faces multiple challenges. Costa is a company which takes a lot of care of their responsibility towards their society and they do this with 3 main focus:

1. Environment: with their cups, with the coffee machines, recycling and supporting local farmers. They also have a project called grounds for project where people can go and ask for used coffee beans as fertilizer.

2. Rainforest alliance: they only use sustainably grown beans certified by the Rainforest alliance. This supports farmers that are more committed to a healthy environment. They teach them how to recycle, compost and plant trees in a better, smarter and more productive way.

3. The Costa Foundation: this project ensures an education for kids and the societies of the farmers that produce their coffee beans. Here we will like to have a special attention as they’ve created a whole foundation to take care of this issue.

For the last 10 years they’ve helped over 60.000 students over 72 school projects in 10 countries. To date they’ve supported 41 schools in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Perú, Vietnam and Uganda.
Their mission is to improve the life chances of boys and girls in coffee growing communities by providing the opportunity of a safe, quality education. And their vision is to eradicate poverty in coffee growing communities.
They help this coffee-growing communities by:

  • Building new schools or extending existing ones
  • Furnishing new buildings
  • Investing in water supplies
  • Providing computers
  • Developing land for families to grow crops
  • Building teacher accommodation
  • Building latrines
  • Maximising leverage opportunities for the communities

They help societies in multiple ways but one of the challenges that we consider it is very important is the gender equality and specially abolition of forced marriages. Thanks to education they’ve helped womens in ethiopia not to be forcely married. Out of all the schools in Uganda they’ve already in 2 this has been abolished, giving woman a better future and proving that with education lots of the problems can be solved.

To conclude this part we’ll like to do a little references to Whitebread, the company which Costa is part of. They are company in the hospitality sector and have a great awareness of the role they play in society and how important it is to have a responsible management. What we will like to remark is the fact that they published a report concerning modern slavery and how it affects their business. They did a study and realised there is a potential 22% of slavery by their direct suppliers and they explain their plans to recover this, for example doing ethical audits among others.

C. What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it?

We believe in this company because we consider they’ve given multiple examples of what they do. Not only do they do constant reports but they continuously post in the “Case studies” section of their website or the videos one. In these department they upload examples of people that were affected by this foundation, how were the progress of building in a community,... Even sometimes reading, a tear or two is dropped due the touching subject. There are some things that sometimes in western societies we consider as normal but aren’t in others, such as gender equality or how big of a deal it is for someone to go to highschool. Reading these essays we can understand the real struggle this people have and how this company has really helped them. This is why we trust them.

D.The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

The company is facing challenges related to making real difference:

  1. Any charity company’s challenge today is a lack of professional employees, they need more graduates as employees or volunteers.
  2. Another one would be getting enough donations for building and then supporting schools. The number of schools has reached 42 in 8 countries. The challenge is to provide enough sources to maintain them working and to build new schools.
  3. Government support could be a challenge as well as they provide teachers for schools in return of the schools infrastructure built from the part of Costa Foundation.
  4. Coffee communities are already being exploited by cheap workforce. This charity activities maybe a compensation for the land and work on the coffee plantations.

Ethical business have a lot of challenges nowadays, we would suggest them to hire graduates or talented people with innovative vision and passion for charity. Apart from schools it would be great to finance at least partially building hospitals. Coffee communities need a good working terms and conditions, a better salaries and social security.


Sector: Accommodation and food service activities

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