After water, tea is the most widely consumed drink in the world. In the UK alone, 165 million cups are drunk a day, and despite the increasing popularity of coffee in many countries, global tea consumption and production is set to keep rising over the next decade, Now one London based tea company is using our love of a good brew to create a socially positive business – NEMI teas. They offer a variety of tea blends both loose and in bio-degradable and plastic free tea pyramids but also employ refugees to run their tea stalls across food markets, festivals, events and conferences which allows refugees to boost their English skills, regain confidence and work on skills required to enter the UK job market. 50% of their profits are ploughed back into achieving their social-impact goals. Our Editor Luke Upton recently caught up with up Anuj Dhanak , to talk company origins, creating a road to profitability, industry challenges and of course to learn what his favourite sustainable product is
Luke Upton (LU): Thanks for the time today, so as an introduction – what’s been your personal path to being a director of NEMI teas?
Anuj Dhanak (AD): My background is in sales, I've had experience with beverage start-ups and I love chai! When I first met Pranav Chopra, the founder, we ran a tea stall together where we were selling spicy chai just the way we'd have in India. Immediately, we were coming up with ideas about how NEMI could grow and what sustainable strategies we could take to ensure organic growth.
LU: So, what’s the unique selling point of NEMI teas ? Why should people buy them?
AD: NEMI (named after Pranav's grandfather ) is a young and ambitious business with a clear mission to reduce the unemployment level of refugees in the UK. NEMI teas are all carefully sourced so that each tea blend provides not just a good cuppa, but a great experience. We also use bio-degradable and plastic free teabags.
LU: From a business perspective, what was the process behind developing the product?
AD: It's long and complicated. We have to think about our customers, the market, the competition and where we would like to position ourselves before developing the product. When we identity all these factors we consider the price points and targets we would need to achieve to be able to clarify our timeline for reaching our social mission of employing refugees. With this in mind, we started to create blends using six different tea suppliers to create one product. Each supplier has its own terms and so we needed to think about what volumes to achieve economies of scale and profitability on our side whilst also ensuring a good start to our relationship with these suppliers. We now have more than 15 products that follow demand trends, have a clear supply chain and taste amazing. The feedback on the teas have been amazing since we really made sure we picked high quality tea leaves yet able to supply them at an affordable price point.
LU: What do you most enjoy about launching a business in the sustainable industry?
AD: Satisfaction when you hit your first social milestone after hitting your first financial target.
LU: And what’s the biggest challenge?
AD: Like most businesses it's competition and setting yourself apart from them.
LU: What advice would you give someone looking to start their own business?
AD: Research your market well, understand your SWOT analysis, listen to demand and don't give up!
LU: If we were having this discussion again in five years time, what would you like the business to look like?
AD: To have grown our social business model into countries where refugee crisis occur and to provide the resources needed to enable other businesses to integrate methods to better integrate refugees in their societies.
LU: Nemi teas ( @nemiteas ) aside… what’s your favourite sustainable / bio-based product?
AD: Bio-Bean - I like their idea because it is all about utilising a waste product to make an environmentally sound and useful product. The stakeholders involved all benefit and this inspires others to create similar business models tackling waste and turning it into something useful.
WE WANT YOU! If you would like to feature in the feature that every week puts a face to the brand and provides established businesses and start-ups the crucial advice they need in this industry, please email me, Luke@BioBasedWorldNews.com with an overview of who you are and what you do. Thanks!