Founder and philanthropist Amber Noblit opened the doors to the nonprofit Mission Village Market in April 2015. She said she wanted something more than a chance to change her Facebook profile picture to one of her volunteering in a developing country. She wanted to sleep at night.
Noblit said she got tired of witnessing organizations through her own volunteer efforts that were raising funds to pad the CEOs’ wallets while the children who were supposed to be the recipients of the funds were eating one bowl of rice a day. She was frustrated with organizations that seemed to have good intentions, but when she would check on them a year later, she would find that nothing had changed.
“I saw a lot of organizations that were really flashy,” she said. “But what are they doing with the money?”
Not one of the 15 people who work at Mission Village Market & Coffee Shop in Old Town Spring earns a paycheck. The market and cafe, which offers all things fair trade, including hemp handbags, jewelry, oil paintings, and homemade bakery items, is entirely volunteer-based.
Noblit said she aimed to start a sustainable nonprofit that would continue to funnel donations to organizations she considers worthwhile, such as The Refugee Project, which empowers refugee women relocated in Houston to meet their basic needs, and Sole Hope, which offers assistance to relieve foot-related diseases through education, jobs and medical treatment. All of the profits from the products sold are spread among 17 organizations.
The nonprofit is conscious about its coffee suppliers as well. One supplier is Leivas, a coffee farm in Guatemala.
“They built a school on-site at the farm,” Noblit said. “They recognize the vicious cycle of kids farming at six years old, so there is a schoolhouse on the farm that kids go to while the parents work.”
The other coffee supplier is District Roasters, a new Tomball-based organic and direct-trade roaster.
Mission Village Market, located on Gentry Street in Old Town Spring, helps fund 17 organizations.[/caption]
“They are about empowering people with fair-trade coffee giving them sustainable living,” Noblit said. “Let’s say a bag of coffee is $15—80 percent goes to the wholesaler, reseller and distributor. The person picking that coffee makes nothing. [District Roasters] evens out the playing field.”
After being opened a year, Mission Village Market can boast contributions to 20 countries through products with sales exceeding $25,000.
Volunteer Gwen Cox-McWhorter said she saw Mission Village Market as a way to give back and volunteer her time.
“When I first visited Mission Village Market, Amber and I talked for a long time, and after our conversation, I knew in my heart I needed to help Amber and her family in any way possible,” she said. “I’ve been here ever since, and I love every minute of it.”
417 Gentry St., Spring
Hours: Wed. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Thu.-Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.