The business case for worker empowerment: Evidence from the Sri Lankan tea sector

Photo via Unsplash, Asantha Abeysooriya

I’ve written about the business case for empowering women producers before; but the financial justification for inclusive business goes much further than that.  Today, CARE International published “A Different Cup of Tea: The Business Case for Empowering Workers in the Sri Lankan Tea Sector” which demonstrates that companies investing in one worker empowerment model, the Community Development Forum (CDF), gained $26 for every $1 invested.

Twenty-three tea estates partnering with CARE International Sri Lanka have successfully implemented CDFs, which are ‘mini-parliaments’ that facilitate dialogue between workers, management and the broader community. The model opens up new channels of communication between stakeholders across the plantation region, serving as a forum where collective decisions about community development priorities and labour conditions are negotiated and decided in a transparent way. An independent assessment by the New Economics Foundation showed that  that there was a 1:26 return on investment for estates, plus additional gains for workers and the community.

That’s a fairly impressive return, but where does the figure come from?

This blog was originally published by CARE International UK. For the full article and business case, please visit

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