Is a guayusa farmer in the rural community of San José in Napo Province, Ecuador. Ruth is a leader in the women’s group of San José and she helps run the plant nursery, where they grow guayusa and other plants to sell to farmers in the region. Ruth has a half-hectare farm where she has 300 guayusa trees and 300 cocoa trees, along with a variety of fruit and timber trees. The cocoa trees are getting older and production has declined; thankfully the guayusa yield has risen each year, so she has been able to increase her income. She sold over $350 worth of fresh guayusa leaves to Runa in 2014 and expects to harvest even more in 2015.
Is a guayusa farmer in the Kichwa community of 24 de Mayo, and president of the Guayusa growers of the area. Ricardo began his guayusa association in 2011 as one of Runa’s partner cooperatives in the development of commercial guayusa production. Ricardo has successfully led his growers to become the first of Runa’s Fair Trade certified cooperatives, and they have invested $2,677.93 from the social premium fund in development projects for their community. They have also used the Social Premium fund to begin a community bank, which has provided over $10,000 in microcredit to loans to over 150 guayusa producers in its first two years of operation. Due to these successes, the community of 24 de Mayo was chosen to build the world’s first Kichwa-owned and operated guayusa processing facility, which Ricardo hopes will bring new jobs, skills, and opportunities to his community.