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Q&A with The Point Foundation

Posted by Sarah on 6th August 2018

Q&A with The Point Foundation

A core part of life at teapigs is our ethical scheme – we’ve always been committed to giving back to the tea growing communities that bring us our much loved teas, and for the past 10 years we’ve worked closely with a wonderful charity called The Point Foundation in order to do this.  

The Point Foundation directly support educational opportunities for vulnerable children in Rwanda, and it’s been an absolute honour to see firsthand the progress they are making in the beautiful country that gives us our much loved everyday brewThrough on pack donations, we have raised over £200,000 and now fully fund teapigs house as well as sponsor 20 students at the House of Children School. 

Karen and Charles never fail to inspire us - they’ve dedicated a huge chunk of their lives to helping others,and we thought we'd find out a little bit more about how they started and what plans they have for the future. We’re sure you’ll find them just as inspiring as we do...

How did you come to be involved in the Point Foundation?

It all began when Charles was COO of Coffee Point, a vending operator company. They were really keen about their CSR, making aid trips to Bulgarian orphanages and donating computers and installing them at  Lily of the Valley, a children's village for terminal HIV kids in South Africa. During a personal visit to South Africa in 2006 we visited a couple of schools and were so dismayed by their lack of resources Charlie decided to make the fundraising support official. Point Foundation was set up formally and registered with the Charity Commission in 2007.  We called it Point Foundation as it started with Coffee Point, and even though the company has now been sold, its humanitarian legacy still lives on.


What do you love most about Rwanda visits?

The people and children - and seeing the life changes our donors funds make firsthand. Rwandans are incredibly welcoming and whatever their personal circumstances they just enjoy meeting you.  It's very humbling, especially when you know every person you meet over the age of 24 will have been directly affected by the unimaginable horrors of the 1994 genocide. They are a resilient nation - and also have a wonderful sense of humour - especially when they see Charles joining in with their dancing!


What is the biggest challenge?

Raising funds and ensuring commitments are met. We've got to make sure that any project undertaken is sustainable and makes the right impact for the recipients as well as for the donors. Without consistent funds nothing would be achievable. 


What impact do teapigs donations have on the work of The Point Foundation?

Massive! They're one of PF's major donors - and have been supporting projects for 10 years. It's a huge honour to have that sort of financial loyalty and trust. It also inspires us forward because we know the teapigs team are so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the projects they're involved in. They're not just ticking boxes for their ethical scheme.


Where are the donations are most needed?

We'd say education - it's the best way anyone can help disadvantaged children and youth in developing countries. Without a decent education children can't possibly create better futures for themselves and for the progress of their country. They stay trapped in the poverty cycle. In Rwanda the genocide and civil war wiped out so much of the country's infrastructure including schools, universities, teachers ... Rwanda is rebuilding itself, but there's a generation of children who have grown up without the chance of education so it's vital that the current generation don't miss out too, particularly the socially vulnerable and those with special needs. 

Primary schooling may be free, but for low income families the cost of mandatory uniforms, lunches and even books prevents children accessing the school. A uniform costs £35 - for families living on less than £1 a day that's a huge obstacle.


What advice would you give to other companies wanting to do something similar or sponsoring projects abroad?

Research the projects and get to know the people directly involved in managing them. Building a working relationship between a donor and a charitable organisation is really important, especially if projects are abroad.

We have 11 years of firsthand experience with all our projects and because we're field based we can regularly show Teapigs the changes their funds are making with photos and videos - bringing the reality to them.

Also make your choice of project relevant. For instance, Teapigs buy some of their tea from Pfunda Tea Company near Gisenyi where most of our Rwanda projects are based and their funds are helping children who live in the communities around the tea estate.


What’s next for the Point Foundation?

We'll continue building on the success of educational support, particularly in the early learning and primary sector. Currently we're also working on developing a sustainable scheme for technical and vocational training for youth in one of the poorest villages in Rwanda. Last year we began supporting an environmental education programme for schools in Balule, South Africa and look forward to helping that develop further.

And for 2019, we're hoping some of the teapigs team will join us on a field trip to Rwanda!


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