Sorwathe Ltd. of Rwanda Wins ACE Award

Sorwathe Ltd. of Rwanda, a tea processing company located in Kinihira, Rwanda, has been honored by Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton with the 2012 Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE).

This annual award, presented by the Secretary of State, is given to American owned businesses incorporating a unique sense of corporate citizenship, innovation, and democracy in their foreign business practices. Sorwathe Ltd. of Rwanda was originally founded by Joseph Wertheim, the President of Tea Importers, Inc.

Tea Importers is Sorwathe’s largest shareholder and parent company. Practicing environmental stewardship by pioneering recycling in their factory and valuing social democracy in the business place with a collective bargaining agreement among employees, Sorwathe was designated 2012’s small-medium-size company winner of the ACE. Among its highest achievements was the company’s push to end child labor in the tea market of Rwanda.

As Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton noted, “After the horrible experience of genocide in 1994, Sorwathe produced and distributed efficient, low-cost stoves throughout the country, even teaching people how to build the stoves themselves so they could earn a little extra income.”

The award was accepted by Andrew Wertheim, Joseph’s son and current manager of Sorwathe. A live video feed from the US Embassy in Rwanda connected Sorwathe’s General Manager Rohith Peiris and US Ambassador to Rwanda, Donald Koran to the award ceremony in the Washington, D.C.

Wertheim opened by saying, “My father’s philosophy is one of community service and generosity. He believes that for a company to be truly successful, it not only needs to prosper financially but also needs to be a leader in social responsibility.”

“I am extremely proud to accept this award on behalf of Sorwathe Limited, its U.S. parent company Tea Importers, Inc., my family, and especially on behalf of the 5,242 employees of Sorwathe and the 4,573 small farmers that we support through tea production in Rwanda. We thank you deeply for this great and unexpected honor,” Wertheim said.

While Sorwathe won the small-medium size company ACE, Intel Corporation was awarded the large multinational enterprise ACE. Other nominees included Chevron and Microsoft.

View the entire transcript of the ceremony.


Photo courtesy of Tea Association of the USA