NEMI Teas is a London-based tea company and a social enterprise on a mission to empower refugees and defend our planet.
What is your organisation called and what does it do?
On the surface, NEMI Teas is a tea company. We do a variety of beautifully crafted tea blends and our signature Spicy Chai syrup.
But in our DNA, we are a social enterprise on a mission to empower people and our planet. We employ refugees to give them local work experience to help them enter the UK workforce. And as a sustainable brand, all our products are fair-trade, organic, and plastic-free.
What does it mean to be a social enterprise?
Fundamentally, being a social enterprise is about having a realistic approach to social and environmental impact. In a world where the status quo is failing so many people, we need to make change now.
Today’s world is driven, in a large part, by business. We can debate whether this should be the case, but it’s simply the state of play. In a world where we are fighting climate breakdown and ostracising victims of war, there is an urgent need to act. If we want to affect change now, we need to leverage the powerful mechanisms that are already in place — like business.
Can you tell us more about the Asylum Seekers to Refugees - the process and difference.
Asylum seekers are people who have fled their home country formally applied for asylum in another country. Until their application is accepted, they are not legal citizens of their host country. This means they have significant restrictions placed on them – for example, they cannot work or claim benefits.
Once their application is approved, they become a refugee. Refugee status grants them legal permission to stay in the country and gives them more autonomy. Theoretically, refugees are then able to start a new life in their new home country, integrate into society and get a job.
However, it isn’t always straightforward from there. Refugees face many hurdles when trying to integrate – from prejudice, language barriers to a lack of local work experience.
Can you tell us some key facts about Refugee Week?
Refugee Week is a wonderful initiative that started in 1998. It’s a week devoted to celebrating the stories and resiliency of refugees, raising awareness, and encouraging people to get involved and educated. But at its core, refugee week is all about connection. It’s about remembering that we are more than the passport we carry and connecting over our shared humanity.
Share 3 key reasons for hiring Refugees
(extract from https://www.nemiteas.com/blog/3-reasons-for-hiring-refugees )
Firstly, refugees are highly skilled. Often, they arrive with distinguished careers in their home country. Despite having above average levels of education and training, refugees are systemically underemployed. This represents a huge pool of untapped talent.
They also have higher retention rates, with 73% of businesses reporting that their refugee employees stayed in their roles longer than their general staff. Lastly, they have exceptional work ethic. At NEMI, we’ve seen that when someone takes a chance on them, they are eager to please and work vigorously. They are motivated to excel because of what a job represents – a way to finally find their footing and integrate into British society.
Please can you describe something that you’ve learnt or that has surprised you during the COVID-19 crisis, if anything?
Covid-19 has shown us that in times of crisis, we have the capacity to act with dexterity and compassion. How we respond is a choice and an exercise of prioritisation. When we say we have no funding for refugees, or the climate crisis, that is a judgment, not a fact.
What are your hopes for future?
At NEMI, we really believe in a world where ‘refugee’ is just a visa category. At the minute, the term is burdened so much prejudice from the media. It also signifies a tumultuous and heart-breaking journey for people. We envision a future where refugees are welcomed with open arms, and where we can focus on our collective similarities, rather than differences.