Leo DiCaprio Invests in Runa, Gives His Shares to the Ecuadorian Farmers Who are the Backbone of the Company

Lead Photo: Dan Winters/Wired
Dan Winters/Wired
Read more

For the second time in the span of a year, Leonardo DiCaprio has turned his attention toward the indigenous peoples of Ecuador. Before the Oscars, Leo donated $3.4 million to indigenous groups in the Ecuadorian Amazon. And just last week, he invested in Runa – an organic tea brand that supports indigenous farmers and reforestation in the Amazon  – and joined the board of directors.

Though he’s hardly the only big name star investing in the company, Leo has gone one step further by giving his shares to the farmers who create the product, thereby making them part owners in a brand that isn’t fronted by the indigenous people closely tied to guayusa, the caffeinated tree whose leaves form the basis of Runa’s teas and energy drinks. “The future of these communities, and many like them across the world, are at risk as their native lands are exploited for natural resource and agricultural development. Sustainable farming practices are key to helping ensure a brighter future for so many local people,” DiCaprio said, according to Inc. “We must all do everything we can to help indigenous and local people who too often suffer the worst environmental degradation, and are most at risk from climate change,” he added.

We can see why 15-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Martinez – the indigenous environmentalist suing the government over climate change – looks up to Leo.