Leading supply chain and procurement provider Sorsco pledges support for the development of children in Tanzania
By Nigel Draper Founder, Sorsco, and an expert in supply chain and procurement.
Sorsco, an industry leading provider in supply chain and procurement services for the hospitality sector, has pledged to support the nutritional and educational development of over 730 of children in East Africa, following a trip to Moshi in Tanzania this autumn.
Originally established by Nigel Draper in 2012, the Sorsco brand is committed to lowering food costs through intelligent sourcing and prides itself on delivering a fresh and results-driven approach for restaurants and the wider hospitality sector.
In working with food and drink suppliers from many countries worldwide, Nigel visited Africa to gain first-hand insight into the country’s food supply chain, while volunteering for Soweto Primary School in Moshi, located at the foot of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
In this interview, we speak with Nigel regarding his visit and the inspiration behind the company’s ongoing commitment to supporting children in Tanzania.
Can you tell us more about Sorsco and its involvement in supporting Equatorial food supply chains, particularly in Tanzania?
At Sorsco, we’re passionate about reducing food costs and improving food supply chains in impoverished regions, such as Tanzania. Our primary goal is to tackle the critical issue of food scarcity, particularly among school children who often struggle to access regular meals.
I recently had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer at Soweto Schule, a primary school located in Moshi, Tanzania. The school plays a crucial role in its community by providing not only education to its students but also regular meals. This is particularly important as a significant number of students do not have access to food when they are at home.
However, I uncovered that many parents are struggling to make the school payments needed for the food, meaning students would not receive a proper meal. This experience was an eye-opener, and we at Sorsco felt compelled to take action.
Could you elaborate on the specific challenges faced by the school and the children in terms of accessing food?
Due to the financial struggles of parents, the school often faces insufficient funds to provide meals throughout the academic year. To tackle this issue, Sorsco supplied food and drink for the remaining months of the year, making sure that all 730 children had access to two meals a day at school. We are currently exploring ways to establish a more sustainable fundraiser to continue this initiative.
Unfortunately, it’s not just financial constraints that make things challenging, as the food itself requires additional effort. For example, it involves sieving rice and beans to remove husks and debris that the more basic processing left in. The food provided is also very basic, with unsweetened porridge, which is thick like wallpaper paste, in the morning and rice and beans for lunch.
For the kids and their families, life is a struggle and while all the same familiar things of daily existence go on around them, it’s evident that they work hard just to survive. The word ‘survive’ has a much more literal meaning in this part of Africa, where life is tough.
What inspired Sorsco to take action and provide sustainable solutions for ongoing food support in the region?
During my time volunteering in Tanzania, I witnessed the daily struggles faced by children and their families and it truly was a mind-altering experience that deeply affected how I view my daily life.
Life in this part of Africa is marked by economic hardships, and these challenges impact every aspect of daily existence. Having experienced the harsh realities during a month-long volunteering effort in Tanzania, we knew we had to act and had the resources to help ease the burden on families by supporting the children’s meal scheme.
Can you share some insights into the logistics involved in delivering food supplies to these remote areas, and how Sorsco manages these challenges?
The logistics of delivering food supplies to these remote areas are indeed challenging.
I personally witnessed the arrival of bags of rice on the back of a pick-up and beans transported by Tuk-Tuk, bringing a new meaning to the term ‘logistics.’ The conditions and infrastructure present unique challenges that demand innovative solutions.
Sorsco has been actively navigating these challenges, ensuring that the necessary food supplies reach their destination in a timely manner. It’s a testament to our commitment to overcoming logistical obstacles to provide essential sustenance to those in need.
How has your personal experience in Tanzania influenced your perspective on waste and consumption in more developed parts of the world?
It has had a profound impact!
Witnessing the resourcefulness and ingenuity of the Tanzanian people, who repurpose and reuse everything out of necessity, really made me question the wasteful practices we have at home. For instance, things we take for granted like crockery barely exist there, so why would you buy something that breaks if you drop it and costs a week’s wage to replace? Instead, people use durable plastic, and there is no concern for the environment as no plastic is wasted – it is all reused. This experience has really shed light on what is resourceful living – it’s a marvel of ingenuity and necessity.
Going home, the experience certainly had me thinking about what was really needed, and I found myself questioning things like, ‘Why do I have a camera on the back of my car, when I just need to turn my head’, and ‘Why does everything we buy come with so much plastic, that just fills up my recycling bin each week.’
The contrast between the frugality and sustainability in Tanzania and the excess in more privileged societies led me to reevaluate and consider how I can contribute to a more sustainable and mindful approach to daily life.
In light of your experiences, what message would you like to convey to individuals in more privileged societies?
My experiences in Tanzania have served as a powerful reminder of the stark contrast in living conditions and the daily struggles faced by individuals in less privileged societies.
We live in an abundance of riches, which is beyond the comprehension or even the wildest imagination of most Tanzanians. Yet, their outlook and kindness were remarkable. They put me to shame with their willingness to help others when they themselves have nothing, and their strong determination and work ethic could rival even the best of us [safari drivers work nine months straight without a single day off]. I encountered some of the kindest, friendliest, and most generous people that I have ever met.
I hope this story can encourage others to pause and reflect on the privileges we all have. It’s a moment to consider how you can express gratitude for the cards life has dealt you.