On November 28, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton presented the Secretary of State's 2012 Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) to Sorwathé Ltd. of Rwanda.
The ACE is an annual award recognizing U.S.-owned businesses that exhibit exemplary corporate citizenship, promote innovation, and advance democratic principles. Sorwathe, founded in 1975 by Joseph Wertheim of Tea Importers, Inc. of Westport, Connecticut, a won the Award for 2012 in the Medium and Small Business catergory.
Sorwathe continues to be the leader not only in tea production in Rwanda but also in improving the quality of life of its employees and community around Kinihira. Sorwathe was honored for its efforts to support adult literacy, worker association and collective bargaining rights, sustainable agriculture, forestry and water management, and for leading the charge for the eradication of child labor in Rwanda’s tea sector.
Representing Sorwathe at the ceremony with Secretary Clinton were Andrew Wertheim, the founder’s son who manages the company today, Vice President of Tea Importers, Jan Shackett, and Cally Alles, the recently retired Director General of Sorwathé. Amongst the distinguished guest at the ceremony was the Ambassador of Rwanda to the United States, James Kimonyo.
“I am extremely proud to accept this award on behalf of the 2543 employees of Sorwathé, Tea Importers, my family, and especially on behalf of the 4,573 small farmers that we support through tea production in Rwanda. We are committed to maintaining the standards we have set in corporate social responsibility and stewardship and hope our efforts will serve as a model for others," Mr. Wertheim said in his speech.
The Director General of Sorwathe, Rohith Peiris, joined the US Ambassador to Rwanda, Donald Koran, and the US Economic/Commercial Officer, Joseph Palombo, to participate in the ceremony via live video feed from the US Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda.
“We believe developing our employees, community and environment is key to long term sustainability. This is the corporate culture established by our founder Mr. Joseph Wertheim and we are committed to maintain it” said Mr. Rohith Peiris. He thanked the Government of Rwanda, Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Trade and Industry, Local and District officials, NAEB, RDB and Assopthe Tea Cooperative for supporting Sorwathe’s mission.
This Award is even more impressive as Sorwathe competed with 82 other firms from all around the world. The other nominees included Chevron, General Motors and Microsoft. Sorwathe was chosen from 11 finalists.
To read transcripts of Secretary Clinton’s and Mr. Wertheim’s remarks from today’s ceremony and watch the video of the ceremony visit: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2012/11/201147.htm