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Shapna Coffee and Tea: A New Business Model

Posted Mar 27 2010 8:20am

by Nicole Dennis

Shapna is no ordinary business.  It’s not run by power and money hungry business men who live in luxury while their employees remain impoverished.  It doesn’t produce a cheap product at the cost of irreversible environmental degradation.  Shapna is an initiative to empower marginalized farmers in Bangladesh, Uganda, and the Dominican Republic, while fighting poverty in the United States.  A massive forty percent of profits are invested into health, entrepreneurship, education, and infrastructure opportunities both in the communities where coffee and tea are grown and the communities at home where it’s purchased.  All Shapna tea and coffee is grown organically without the use of artificial chemicals, preservatives, or flavoring.  So you’re not only investing in your health, but you’re helping to improve the health of people worldwide.  Profits are reinvested into providing vaccines, clean water, electricity, and internet.  In the U.S. profits are invested in urban schools and efforts to reduce homelessness and poverty.  Shapna is more than fair trade; on top of fair prices, Shapna helps tea farmers in Bangladesh and Uganda obtain their own small plots of land and transition from working on massive corporate estates to becoming entrepreneurs.  Farmers are empowered to support themselves and their families, while maintaining a sense of freedom and dignity.

Shapna works because its founders were willing to take a risk to help better the lives of others.  With their actions and credentials Shapna leaders like Johny Chaklader and Michael Tringali are helping the organization gain worldwide recognition.

In 2009, Shapna representatives were invited to meet with members of President Yoweri Museveni’s Administration, including his cabinet Ministers of Trade and Finance in Uganda. Johny is completing his final year of his Juris Doctorate and Master of Business Administration Degrees at the 

Howard University School of Law and School of Business and in September, he will begin a 3-year study at Harvard University on how Shapna can make a difference in economic and environmental development as part of a Master’s degree program in Sustainability and Environmental Management.  Michael graduated from Colgate University with a BA in both Spanish and religion.  He has worked as a community service volunteer in the Dominican Republic, focusing on child vaccinations and serves as one of Shapna’s Liaisons to the Dominican Republic, visiting and developing relationships with Dominican farmers.

Shapna will continue to work and flourish with the help of individuals, communities, and consumers who are willing to purchase a product that takes a big step towards a more sustainable and equitable world.   

At Colgate University, Shapna coffee and tea will be served in one of our local coffee shops, the Barge Canal Coffee Co., starting April 1st.  We plan to expand Shapna’s presence on campus by creating a student organization to work alongside the project to bring Shapna tea and coffee to our dining halls.    By helping Shapna raise awareness about poverty and environmental justice on campus, we will use the power of our Dollar in the same way that we use the power of our Vote.   We look forward to campuses across the country joining us. The heart of Shapna is the people that want to improve the quality of life for our world community.  For more information, visit

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