Employer Success Stories with Center for Employment Opportunities

Building a network of non-profit organizations that serve individuals returning from incarceration

Guayakí is excited to share this article from our regenerative partner, Center for Employment Opportunities. Article originally published at ceoworks.org.

Guayakí Yerba Mate is a natural products brand that offers organic, fair-trade, shade grown yerba mate beverages. Since its inception in 1996, the company has advanced social and environmental causes through what it calls its “Market Driven Regeneration” business model. In 2018 this company decided to use its expansion into self-distribution to create a new social impact commitment to hire formerly incarcerated individuals nationwide through its distribution subsidiary, The Yerba Mate Co.Guayakí Yerba Mate officially launched this commitment in February of 2018 and since has provided employment to over 200 people with criminal records ranging across 25 states and 49 cities.

In an interview with Forbes, Guayakí’s Director of Social Impact James Anderson reports, We’ve seen a mother reunited with her child after being separated for 8 years. Her ability to have a stable job provided the means to purchase a home and reconnect with her family. In other cases, we’ve had an employee who came home after serving 19 years in prison move his way up from being one of our frontline distributors to now working directly on my team providing other people coming home with life-changing opportunities. It’s been great to see individuals who have done the hard work on themselves take full advantage of this opportunity, as it’s been incredible to see people just starting out on their new life use this as their foundation.”

To source their new talent pool, the company built a network comprising of national and local non-profit organizations that serve individuals returning from incarceration, one of which is the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO). The largest reentry employment provider in the country, CEO offers individuals just coming home from prison the ongoing support necessary to build career capital and financial stability. CEO provides immediate temporary work opportunities alongside career and financial coaching; this model is a great benefit to companies like Guayakí Yerba Mate that are looking to provide valuable employment opportunities to an extremely important yet underutilized talent pool. As new positions open, Guayakí sends an email to CEO offices to request applicants and shortly thereafter multiple applications are submitted.