Runa Foundation is a US-based 501c3 that works closely with its commercial partner, Runa LLC, to develop new value chains of plant-based products in the Ecuadorian and Peruvian Amazon. To date, Runa has created an entirely new supply chain and market for Ilex Guayusa, an Amazonian caffeinated tea leaf. Guayusa-based products can be found in over 5,000 points of sale in the US and Canada. Runa Foundation currently works with 2,300 indigenous farming families in the Ecuadorian Amazon who produce guayusa to implement organic and Fair Trade certified farming practices to increase yields, build capacity for farmers’ cooperative management, and develop public policies that promote sustainable agriculture in the region.
The Runa Foundation offers one fellowship per year administered by the Tropical Resources Institute. Applicants should apply through the Student Grants Database for the TRI Endowment Fellowship and then select “Runa Foundation Fellowship” when prompted.
Eligibility requirements are the same as those for all TRI Fellowships with the addition that all applicants should have advanced Spanish language skills and experience in a dynamic, multicultural environment.
Potential projects include investigating agroforestry management, medicinal plant uses, gender issues, land management, administration of funds, biodiversity, animal populations, and hunting patterns in forests. Fellows may work at Runa field stations in Ecuador or Peru.