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[E4C15] Turning Amazon Herbs Into Energy Drinks While Preserving Indigenous Medicine – Runa

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One of my passions in life is Amazon medicine. I’ve been to the Amazon rainforest of Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Brazil 8 times since 2004, and have been privileged to enter territories that are off limits to foreigners as a guest of the tribes. I’ve spent months in the back country of Brazil, traveling by river, scaling mountains, and staying in indigenous villages as a seeker of plant medicine wisdom. The value I have received as a guest of various tribes – specifically the Huni Kui, the Ashaninka, Puyanawa and Kuntanawa nations – in terms of healing, spiritual growth, expansion of my world view, and commitment to being a force for positive change in the world has been priceless.

The shamans of the Amazon Basin possess a vast wealth of knowledge around medicinal plants. They have intimate knowledge of the plants and animals that coexist in the forest around them. They attribute their knowledge of medicine and even their culture to wisdom received from the plants and animals of the forest.

In this episode, I have a return guest to the Entrepreneurs for a Change podcast. His name is Tyler Gage, and he’s the founder of a beverage company called Runa. His previous interview on how to raise venture capital funding for your social enterprise can be found on www.EntrepreneursForAChange.com/9.

He’s returning to share his experience developing energy drinks for modern life from a plant that has ancient ethnobotanical uses. Guayusa tea has one of the highest concentrations of caffeine on the planet. The great thing about guayusa is that, unlike the typical coffee crash and burn, it gives you sustained energy and mental clarity. It also has a clean taste, without the bitterness of yerba maté.

Tyler co-founded a quintessential triple bottom line business – Runa empowers indigenous tea producers in Ecuador, markets sustainably harvested products, and, through their foundation, spearheads reforestation and community development projects.

Their latest project Rios Nete, a healing center that is based in Peru, is dedicated to the practice and preservation of indigenous Amazonian medicine. It will be the first center in the world to conduct clinical research into Amazonian plant medicines and patient outcomes.

In this interview, Tyler will share with us:

  • How to get started raising venture capital funding.
  • How they are able to optimize their hybrid for profit / nonprofit social enterprise model for maximum social and environmental benefit.
  • How they maximum their profit margins without forcing their producers towards unsustainable living wages in a race to the bottom line.
  • Their secret towards accomplishing massive positive impact in the world.
  • And much much more.

Links to organizations and resources mentioned in the interview can be found in our show notes at www.EntrepreneursForAChange.com/15.

Where to Find Tyler Gage

  • Visit Runa Website
  • See the Runa Facebook page
  • Check out our boards on Pinterest 
  • Follow Runa on Instagram

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In Gratitude

Eric Smith of Monster Beach Studio for creating our Entrepreneurs for a Change Theme Song


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Lorna Li

Chief Evolutionary Officer at Entrepreneurs for a Change
Lorna Li is a business coach, entrepreneur and Amazon rainforest crusader, with a passion for green business, social enterprise, and indigenous wisdom. She helps changemaking entrepreneurs harness the power of the Internet to reach more people and make a bigger impact, while designing the lifestyle of their dreams. She is an Internet marketing consultant to changemakers, and works with innovative tech startups, sustainable brands, social enterprises & B-Corporations on SEO, SEM & Social Media marketing.
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