Products from Africa: Our cooperation with Tanzania Tea Collection – Tea made in Africa

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Our cooperation partner Kazi Yetu, to whom the Tanzania Tea Collection tea brand belongs, has transferred the entire value chain to Tanzania, the country of origin. Just like fairafric, Kazi Yetu lives the motto “Made in Africa” and wants to make a difference. The label “Made in Africa” is often to be treated with caution, but in our case it stands for real added value in the value chain.

fairafric as well as Kazi Yetu with their Tanzania Tea Collection combine the conviction to achieve an added value for the local population by moving the production to the country of origin. Therefore we are pleased to announce our cooperation “Tea O’Clock” Tanzania Tea Collection x fairafric this fall. In our online shop you can already shop the “Tea O’Clock Bundle” consisting of two of our 60% cocoa chocolate bars in combination with the Organic Coco Choco Black Tea or the Organic Cinnamon Spice Black Tea. This perfect mixture not only unites the convictions of our two teams, but also provides in this special constellation the seasonal fall feeling, for super fair and super delicious chocolate and tea enjoyment. In the following blog article you can learn more about our cooperation partner and get a deeper insight into the corporate culture of Kazi Yetu through our interview with the founding team. Finally, we take a critical look at the term “Made in Africa”.

The Tanzanian Tea Collection: Products from Africa

Raw materials from Africa are mainly processed abroad. This minimizes the economic benefits in the country of origin and leads to inequalities in trade. Kazi Yetu wants to counteract this phenomenon with the Tanzania Tea Collection and increases local value creation through production, packaging and distribution in Tanzania. This way of thinking about sustainable action connects fairafric with Kazi Yetu. As a social enterprise, Kazi Yetu reinvests a large part of its profits in job creation and the economic emancipation of women. The founding team Tahira and Hendrik have the same wish as we do – to leave the value creation in the country of origin and fight injustice in world trade.

Interview with the founders of Kazi Yetu and the Tanzanian Tea Collection

Why did you decide to found Kazi Yetu?

Hendrik and I have both worked in international development for over ten years across Africa, South Asia, and Central Asia. Both of our jobs have been committed to poverty reduction and increasing economic growth in developing countries.

Through our experience, we saw the potential for social impact, economic growth, and business opportunity. On the demand side, we see the growing global market for ethically sourced and impactful products. In parallel on the supply side, we have engaged with hundreds and thousands of farmers that produce quality products but lack market access. Further, most of the agriculture products from Tanzania and wider Africa are exported in bulk, with minimal local economic opportunity.

As we live and work in Tanzania and travel often to Europe and beyond, we thought “why can’t we develop value chains that redistribute wealth while also feed consumers’ appetite for traceable, equitable products?” So Kazi Yetu was born.

What are your goals that you want to achieve with and through your company?

We are striving to transform the way that products are made and sold from Tanzania and wider Africa. Our first brand, Tanzania Tea Collection, sets a benchmark for us, working with a range of farmers that produce tea, herbs, and spices. We work with farmers in different climates and altitudes around Tanzania, from the coasts of Zanzibar to the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro, to improve their production and increase their economic opportunity. Under Kazi Yetu, we aim to add new types of products to our range that also promote local value addition and traceability, reaching even more farmers around Africa. Eventually Kazi Yetu will be a platform on which our ranges and other business’ products can be featured and access markets.

We aim to contribute to the discourse of conscious consumption by increasing the traceability of our products to inform consumers of their social and environmental impact through their purchases. This in turn impacts global trade, evolving the way consumers make decisions.

What does sustainability in business mean to you?

For us, sustainability is about creating shared value, wherein business thrives when all stakeholders benefit and the environment is protected. Kazi Yetu invests from the farm level, up to our factory, and right to our customers – through this shared value approach, we are ensuring that the economic benefit is equal and mutually reinforcing. Further, by promoting organic agriculture principles, using fully recyclable and/or biodegradable packaging, and eventually offsetting all carbon emissions in our trade, we protect the environment.

Based on the needs of the farmers and pathway to growth, under Kazi Yetu we have designed a farm-hub model, moving from a transactional partnership with our farmers to an approach that provides support for the farmers in the form of access to finance, equipment, infrastructure, and inputs. As a result of our strengthened value chains, both our suppliers and our business grow collectively.

What aspect of sustainability does the business you are representing focus on the most?

Kazi Yetu means ‘Our Work’ in Swahili because our priority is job creation in Africa.

While we believe that all aspects of sustainability are of equal importance, as a social enterprise in Africa, we put job creation and income generation at the forefront because we believe that this ultimately enables people to invest in their own futures, from both a social and environmental standpoint.

Why did you decide to produce in Africa? 

In Africa, Tanzania in our case, many high-quality agriculture products are produced given the rich and fertile land and wide range of altitudes and climates. However, there is a lack of local value addition, such as processing, blending, packaging, branding, and marketing. This represents a large untapped opportunity that we see a significant potential to work towards.

Through Kazi Yetu, similar to fairafric, we are setting a benchmark for agriculture products that others can leverage. Africa often is only associated with tourism, wildlife and frankly, poverty – however, we want to highlight that Africa is edgy, innovative, and has a bright future for growth.

Do you believe sustainable business strategies are a short-term trend or a long-lasting change in doing-business?

The fair trade market has grown by over 20% in Germany in the last five years, and four times in the UK in the last ten years, according to Statista. This demonstrates that conscious consumption is growing exponentially and is not merely a trend. Global trade is transforming and it is up to those that can invest in developing countries and suppliers to shape how the market evolves. People around the world are hungry for impactful, traceable products that they know do not harm the environment and society at large. We believe that companies like fairafric and Kazi Yetu are pioneering this trend and that this is just the beginning of a long, exciting journey for inclusive economic growth.

Made in Africa – background and critical view

The label “Made in Africa” does not automatically represent added value for the country of production and its population. This has become particularly clear in the textile industry in recent years. The German company Otto, for example, had relocated its production to East Africa (Uganda & Ethiopia) in order to avoid criticism of its inhumane production methods in Asia. In 2013 a factory building collapsed in Bangladesh, demanding many lives. The “Cotton made in Africa” initiative is now to guarantee customers transparency, no child labor and cotton production without the use of pesticides. However, it is questionable whether the company is acting in the interest of East African employees. Also s.Oliver advertises with a collection “Made in Uganda”. So there is no added value in the country. In addition, some jobs in the trade with second-hand clothes and in tailoring companies are even getting destroyed.

In return, exports from Africa are made more difficult, especially for local African companies, due to “non-tarif trade barriers”. In general, exports from Africa are possible. In contrast to exports from other continents, there is an advantage at first glance, as the EU allows most African countries to import goods from Africa duty-free – but conditions must be met. For agricultural exports, for example, there are a lot of rules on their production, storage and transport.

All these restrictions and regulations make it difficult for African producers to export to the EU. It is therefore obvious that the EU or Germany has little interest in leaving at least parts of world trade to Africa by developing export-oriented agricultural production or small industries. For this to happen, there is a need for companies like Kazi Yetu or fairafric who made it a mission to change outdated ideas.