There’s only one thing better than great-tasting tea – and that’s when the tea gives back.
Nemi Teas is a social enterprise set up by Pranav Chopra, the brains behind Trampoline Cafe. Both of Pranav’s operations have one, singular focus: helping refugees find work through the power of sustainable (and delicious) tea.
Pranav first had the idea for Nemi Teas when hearing refugees tell him how hard it was to find a job. From unconscious biases surrounding appearance and accents, to degrees and work experience not being applicable between countries, it isn’t easy for people seeking sanctuary to find employment.
“I was literally like, man, these guys literally can’t break in,” Pranav tells Smiley News. “How are they ever going to break in if someone doesn’t just go ‘oh, you know what? We will give you a job full stop’. Because that will fall at one of the hurdles, right? The accent, the referee, no local experience something or other. The employers have an excuse to give it to a local.”
As a joke, Pranav registered a company – one that would employ refugees on a first-come, first-served basis, regardless of their nationality, language skill, or experience. But eventually, he got the idea for Nemi Teas and it’s all thanks to chai.
Chai is a style of brewing tea from India – and Pranav realised that it was incredibly hard to find somewhere that sold traditionally made chai while living in London.
“I was like, You know what, no one’s doing it. I’m going to do it. And I want to set up these stalls in the markets,” explains Pranav. “The concept was basically; I’ll set up a school and I will hire refugees. So they can practise their English and they can get a UK company on their CV and all that stuff. It will serve both purposes.”
Today, you can purchase Nemi Teas, including chai, from their website and from restaurants, cafes and stockists all around the world. The packaging is 100% plastic-free, and their teabags are also biodegradable. They employ refugees living in Greater London, helping them to improve their English, earn money for their families, and get a local reference on their CVs.
Pranav also helped to set up Trampoline Cafe, with the same goals – to help refugees find work that will help transform their lives.
“Post-Covid there is such a shortage of hospitality staff … and I was like, You know what, it’s perfect time to actually set up a training ground for refugees to enter the hospitality industry,” explains Pranav. “So no restaurant would say, ‘Oh, they don’t have experience set’ because we’ve trained them.
“So they come on board, they work for three to six months, and then we move them on – but our employment partners guarantee that they will provide them ongoing training, full-time jobs, all that stuff.”
Trampoline Cafe works with charity partners like Groundwork London, a community services charity that refers people to The Hotel School. At The Hotel School, the refugees are provided with a 10-12 week training programme that covers basic hospitality training and, by default, will help them to improve their language skills.
“Once they graduate from there, we hire them at Trampoline – or if we can’t, we’ve got a lot of employment partners through Nemi, because we supply our teams to over 600 clients now,” explains Pranav. “So that’s where we add value – either we hire themselves or we placed them into jobs.”
If you’re interested in supporting refugees as Pranav does, you can donate your time or your money to the British Red Cross.
This article aligns with the UN SDG Reduced Inequalities.