Tea with a conscience at Co-op

(From left) Mark Smith, Chief Executive of Southern Co-op and Pranav Chopra, CEO of NEMI Teas. Picture: Co op Southern

A NEW tea range that helps refugees get back into work is going on sale in Wokingham and Binfield on Monday.

The Co-op stores in Market Place and Forest Road have been selected to stock NEMI Teas, made by a London-based social enterprise and tea company which empowers refugees through employment and leadership opportunities within its business.

And the tea company also has one eye on the environment as the tea is supplied in biodegradable and plastic-free teabags.

The Chief Executives of the Nemi and the Southern Co-op, to which the stores belong, got to know each other through a shared interest in responsible business.

Mark Smith, chief executive of Southern Co-op, said: “We have been active in BITC (Business in the Community) membership for some time and I am delighted that this relationship has come from there. Our team is really excited to be working with NEMI 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.”

And Pranav Chopra, CEO of NEMI Teas, said: “NEMI Teas began with the basic premise of wanting to help refugees overcome two major hurdles they face when looking to break into 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.”

NEMI Teas sets aside 20% of its budget towards the hiring, training and upskilling of the refugees.

They say that by empowering refugees with employment, the scheme has to date enabled two- thirds of the refugees involved so far to go on to secure permanent part-time and full-time jobs.

For more information on Southern Co-op’s Local Flavours range, visit www.thesouthernco-operative.co.uk/food/local-flavours/.

For more information on NEMI Teas, visit www.nemiteas.com.

For more information on Business in the Community, visit www.bitc.org.uk

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