Consider the Source: How doTERRA is Redefining Global Philanthropy

You likely know doTERRA as one of Utah’s fastest growing companies. It was recently recognized as one of the best places to work by Forbes magazine, held the largest convention in Utah history last year and is set to beat that record this year.

doTERRA’s growth is providing jobs and opportunity to hundreds of Utahns. What you may not know is the opportunity the company is also providing internationally through its Co-Impact Sourcing initiative and Healing Hands Foundation.

A wellness company at its core, doTERRA produces essential oils and oil-infused personal care products, dietary supplements and healthy living products. The company sources more than 130 essential oils from 42 different countries, 25 of which are considered developing countries.

A unique opportunity

Founded in 2008, doTERRA crossed the billion dollar mark in annual sales in less than eight years. This rapid growth raised the question of how to ensure a steady supply of some of earth’s greatest resources—the key components in the oil.

doTERRA executives quickly realized that what was initially a challenge presented a unique opportunity to make a dramatic difference on an international scale. The company’s oils are sourced from all over the world, giving doTERRA reach into some of the most remote and poverty stricken parts of the globe.

The company’s solution to its supply problem brilliantly also became a philanthropic endeavor: Co-Impact Sourcing. Co-Impact Sourcing creates coalitions of growers and distillers to make sure local communities receive fair and timely payments for their goods. doTERRA works with these coalitions to provide resources, tools and training to ensure a long-lasting, symbiotic partnership.

Raising up a community

doTERRA’s first Co-Impact Sourcing project began two and a half years ago in Guatemala. Partnered with Choice Humanitarian, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending poverty, doTERRA identified one of the poorest parts of Guatemala to source cardamom, a close relative to ginger.

The remoteness of this location meant farmers had very little bargaining power and often received low compensation for their crop. Buyers were scarce and inconsistent.

The Co-Impact Sourcing initiative changed everything. Cardamom growers in Guatemala finally had an income they could rely on and fair pay for their harvest. Not only did doTERRA empower them with economic stability, but also with resources to be more effective in their growing.

doTERRA set up a specific margin for cardamom oil, which means for every bottle of cardamom sold, a portion goes back to socially responsible initiatives in Guatemala. That combined with funding from Healing Hands Foundation, doTERRA’s philanthropic arm, enabled the construction of the Sika’abe Center.

A vocational training school located in the Polochic valley of Guatemala, the Sika’abe Center provides a nursery and greenhouse for growing better cardamom seedling and also trains farmers to grow cardamom that yields higher-quality oil. Just this year a drying facility was installed in the center where farmers who are part of the cooperative can take their raw materials and have them dried. This allows them to hold onto their product until the price is right and helps them move up in the value chain.

A win-win business model

What is the catch, you may ask. Simply put, there is none. doTERRA is a company that saw an opportunity to align corporate strategy with philanthropic initiatives and took off running.

The help doTERRA offers farmers and distillers comes with no strings attached. Though these farmers are not obligated to sell their product to doTERRA, they want to. The company pays fairly and on time, which is a rarity for the agriculture industry.

The model is a win-win because local farmers and distillers benefit from pricing stability and incentives to produce better crops, while doTERRA benefits from having a steady supply of traceable, high-quality product.

The future of philanthropy

Currently, doTERRA is running Co-Impact Sourcing in 11 different countries with more under development. The goal is to have all of its oils sourced this way, but the implementation is on a scaled approach to ensure the model is both responsible and sustainable.

doTERRA’s story shows that companies can do more than just give money. They can invest in lifting remote areas out of poverty by linking business needs to social impact initiatives. This efficiency and sustainability is the future of philanthropy and I am proud that a Utah company is forging the way.

Worldview-Derek-MillerDerek B. Miller is the president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah, an organization dedicated to helping Utah companies think, act and succeed globally.