Innovation and enterprise blog

Introduction

This blog is written by members of the Business & IP Centre team and some of our expert partners and discusses business, innovation and enterprise. Read more

16 June 2021

Introducing Pranav Chopra, founder of NEMI Teas

We spoke to Pranav Chopra, founder of  NEMI Teas, a London-based tea company and a social enterprise that offers a variety of whole leaf Organic and Fairtrade tea blends both as loose tea and in plastic-free biodegradable tea bags whilst providing job opportunities to refugees living in the UK.

Pranav Chopra

'The social mission of the business is to lower the unemployment levels amongst the refugee communities, which sits at nearly five times the national unemployment level. Specifically, NEMI Teas is tackling SDG #10 of Reduced Inequalities by employing refugees across its business, this allows the refugees to boost their English skills, regain confidence and work on skills required to enter the UK job market. More specifically, the refugees are involved in running events, warehousing, packaging, social media and research work. This gives them the ability to have a UK company on their CV and a local referee who can vouch for their work ethos and ability.

A huge driving force that drove me to set up NEMI Teas to tackle inequality amongst refugee communities in the UK is really well captured in this quote by Pierre Omidyar that “everyone is born equally capable but lacks equal opportunity”. I am a migrant myself to the UK and I have seen how people have an unconscious bias about certain groups of people so it has been an area where I have always felt a pull towards making a change and ensuring we all in the UK have access to equal opportunities.

From a commercial perspective, NEMI supplies its teas at both a retail and a wholesale level across the UK, Germany, France and Scotland. NEMI’s core focus is the food-service industry and it is currently supplying to large corporates including PwC, Ernst & Young and SAP, as well as restaurant chains including Leon and Gaucho along with 300+ cafes and delis across the country.

NEMI Teas is also a leader within the sustainability movement as both its teabags and packaging are 100% plastic-free and compostable. Even the string attached to the teabag is by ultrasound and not traditional glue which has plastic. All the teas are Organic, Fairtrade and Rainforest-Alliance certified thus ensuring the farmers are paid a fair-wage.

The tea sector within the UK is very saturated however in comparison to our competitors and peers, I feel it is our three core values that we live by that make us exceptional:

  1. Positive impact: we conduct our business in a positive manner in all aspects be it the high-quality of tea; compostable tea bags; or the recruitment of refugees within the business.
  2. Financial success: we have a strong focus on business sustainability, as we won’t be able to make a positive impact on the community if we are unable to fund our operations and pay our employees.
  3. Product focus: we have a strong focus on ensuring that our products are unique, high quality and on-trend with speciality tea.

However we have faced several challenges along the way including funding, recruitment and most recently the pandemic. We have worked our way through these hurdles as a team and come out much stronger on the other side. And we are now at a stage where we have significant growth plans over the next few years to achieve our social mission target of empowering 1500 refugees by 2025.

NEMI Team

NEMI Teas has been a proud participant of the Innovating for Growth program where we have received significant amount of business and legal support including IP as we looked to protect the recipe for our traditional Spicy Chai Syrup. Business strategy and marketing expert advice has also been invaluable as we looked to nail down our long-term business
Plan.

My advice for any budding social entrepreneurs would be to really focus on clearly defining the vision of their enterprise along with developing a theory of change to map out the steps that will lead them to have the intended positive change on society. Lastly as part of Refugee Week 2021 NEMI Teas is partnering up this year with some amazing organisations such as Choose Love, Solidarity and Breadwinners, to showcase the talent of refugees living in the UK.'

08 June 2021

Nurture your ambitions with the Business & IP Centre National Network

Last year, the Business & IP Centre’s (BIPC) National Network was awarded a £13million investment, announced by the Chancellor, to enable the Network to expand.

Fast forward, and just over a year later and we’re bringing business inspiration and support to more people than ever before by growing the Network from 14 to over 100 libraries. Offering insights and access to free resources, training and events – both online and in-person – BIPCs in regional and local libraries around the UK, can help you imagine, start or develop your business.

Business & IP Centres can open up the path to entrepreneurship for anyone with an idea. While each Centre is equipped with a core set of resources, such as up-to-date market research and business databases, they are brought to life by a tailored and highly individual programme of events, workshops and one-to-ones, delivered in collaboration with local business leaders, role model entrepreneurs and community partners.

This support has been invaluable for over 26,000 business owners supported by the BIPC during the COVID-19 pandemic. In our recent annual survey, almost a quarter of users agreed that the service had helped them gain confidence and resilience to steer their business through the challenges of the past year. Over 3,600 business owners attended events as part of Reset. Restart, an emergency online programme launched last year to provide new skills and resilience to all SMEs affected.

Whether you’re just setting out, need advice on protecting your intellectual property, or simply have a brilliant idea you want to discuss, we’re here to guide you. To find out more about how you can join a thriving business community in your local library, visit our National Network page and find your closest BIPC.

01 June 2021

Beautiful Ethical's top tips for making your business sustainable

Sustainability is at the core of Tracey’s handmade beauty business. Beautiful Ethical is a company that offers natural and luxurious wellbeing gift boxes as a way for people to treat themselves or someone they love to positive self-care.

Founder, Tracey holding a Beautiful Ethical box

After losing her job during the pandemic, Tracey launched Beautiful Ethical to promote self-care, positivity, and mindfulness with an ethical focus. Read on to find out how she ensures sustainability remains at the centre of her business…

“I love animals and nature, so choosing cruelty free beauty products and making eco-friendly choices are a part of my everyday life and central to the Beautiful Ethical ethos.

Beautiful Ethical Pamper and Wellbeing Box

Since people like David Attenborough have highlighted the environmental impact we are having on our planet, I think that protecting the environment and living a more sustainable life has become something we’re all more aware of and people are now considering how they can make a difference. For me, starting a business that puts sustainability at its core was always a no-brainer.

All our products are cruelty free, vegan and handmade by small brands in the UK – helping us to keep our carbon footprint down and support the local economy. Our products contain natural ingredients and are made by hand, plus everything is made in small batches to ensure that waste is kept to a minimum. In addition to this, we also:

  • Look for products that use sustainable ingredients, such as soy or rapeseed in our candles and wax melts
  • Use eco-friendly packaging so that everything can be recycled, or is biodegradable or compostable
  • Use an environmentally friendly printing company
  • Offset our carbon footprint through Ecologi – an organisation that funds climate-positive projects around the world, including tree planting.”

Sweet Dreams Box

Tracey has used Business & IP Centre Leeds' services to access free resources and attend webinars and one-to-one sessions which have helped with "friendly, straightforward and practical advice in areas such as designing a website, social media and marketing”.

Find out more about Beautiful Ethical over on their website.