The Southern Co-operative is adding a new specialist tea range, which is supplied in biodegradable and plastic-free teabags.
The tea is provided by NEMI Teas, a London-based social enterprise, which provides employment and leadership opportunities for refugees. The enterprise allocates 20% of its budget towards the hiring, training and upskilling of the refugees.
They help to run pop-ups stalls at food markets, festivals, events and conferences and perform commercial roles including related to sales and marketing, events, packaging and distribution to gain work experience.
Both the social enterprise and the co-op are members of the Prince’s Responsible Business network, Business in the Community (BITC). In 2019 NEMI Teas won BITC’s Unipart Outstanding Employment Award for small businesses.
Mark Smith, chief executive of Southern Co-op, said: “Southern Co-op has been active in BITC membership for some time and I am delighted that this relationship has come from there.”
Pranav Chopra, chief executive of NEMI Teas, added: “NEMI Teas began with the basic premise of wanting to help refugees overcome two major hurdles they face when looking to break in to the UK workforce – lack of local work experience and not having access to a local referee.
“The work experience gained at NEMI Teas also provides the refugees an opportunity to practice their English language skills and regain their confidence. The business has gained significant traction and support over the last three years and we look to scale our impact in the coming years.”
Mr Smith added: “Our team is really excited to be working with Pranav to help them scale up their business.
“We hope that by offering these excellent new products to our Local Flavours customers we will be able to support further growth for NEMI and the amazing work they do with the refugees.”
All NEMI teas are Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance certified while teabags are 100% plastic-free. The Southern Co-op will be stocking its Green Tea and English Breakfast. The range will be available to buy in Southern Co-op’s stores in and around London.
These stores include Nork Way in Banstead, Arthur Road in Windsor, Station Road in Oxted, London Road in Reigate, New Haw Road in Addlestone, Uxbridge Road in Ealing, Market Place in Wokingham, Fordwater Road in Chertsey, Ridgway in Wimbledon, White Horse Hill in Chislehurst, and Forest Road in Binfield.