At Tengri, we don’t have a corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy, because we don’t need one. Our business is good business. To ensure that we remain true to our original goal of providing fair and sustainable income to our partners, we have created guidelines that remind us who we are and where we are going. These guidelines also help us build our offering and tell the story of our relationship with our partners.
We did not set out to gain market share and then hike prices. We did not intend to gain as much traction as possible and then sell to the highest bidder. We are in this because we believe business should and can do better. We are in this for the people, the animals and the land. We don’t simply aspire to make a difference – we are making a difference.
Tengri is not a corporation, it is a collective movement. We believe everyone should have the opportunity to be an equal partner in the Tengri ecosystem. And we believe all business activity should benefit everyone involved.
The opaque nature of supply chains and the distance between the source of products and their final owner creates space for distorted pricing, unscrupulous supply chain practices and environmental degradation. At Tengri, we do our utmost to prevent this. Tengri is built on partnerships, trust and innovation. With these values, we create exquisite items for your wardrobe and home that look and feel wonderful and have a positive lasting impact on everyone in the supply chain.
Tengri was created out of a need to challenge the status quo. Our activities are built on the three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social and financial. These pillars are embedded into our operational DNA through our sourcing strategy, brand positioning, product and pricing strategy. We are shaping a new heritage, working to provide a long-term stable source of income, preserve cultural heritage, and provide positive social and environmental benefits to all those with whom we work. Our approach to sustainability is interwoven into the way we operate and conducted through the following lenses:
Fairshare – The herders providing Tengri with noble fibres are the most important aspect of our supply chain. Without them and their resources, we do not have a product. Therefore, we have created a fairshare profit model, ensuring not only that our herders receive a fair price for the noble fibres they supply to Tengri, but also that we do not negatively affect the local domestic market. We make sure all parts of the supply chain have a fairshare. We start with payment to the herder families supplying our fibres, paying a multiplier of 1.5 times the market value and applying an annual bonus of 2% in Tengri profit-making years. A 50% deposit is advanced every year, and the balance payment is made at the point of receiving fibres, followed by a 2% bonus.
Land degradation – Transitioning into a free market economy has meant nomadic herders need to trade to earn a living. Many years of rearing cashmere goats on the Mongolian Steppes supplied to meet global demand have led to increasing desertification in the region. The land has exceeded its carrying capacity (the maximum number of a species that the environment can sustain) by as much as 4-5 times its ability to sustainably support animals or people. Yak – indigenous to the area – eat grass in a different way from goats, grazing the top of grass rather than eating from the roots, allowing biodiversity and wildlife to thrive. This reduces the rate of desertification and offers a more sustainable alternative while supporting livelihoods. Tengri is working with experts to reverse land degradation. We are also aware of the issue of potential overgrazing by yaks, and understand fully the carrying capacity of the region. We shall never step beyond that boundary. Under the Tengri Nature Conservancy Programme, we work with nomadic herder families, conservation and wildlife experts and governments to ensure our growth and profit is not achieved at the price of harm to the landscape and its people, animals and wild plants.
Social impact – Simply by providing herders with a good price for their products, Tengri is already making an impact. Yet we want to go beyond this and help to support the blending of traditional nomadic life with modernity, ensuring that those who want to remain with the herds can do so, but not at the expense of missing out on the benefits of a highly connected world. Whether providing solar energy, education materials or other relevant skills, we will work with herders to identify their needs and help provide a platform to meet those needs and ensure self-sufficiency.
Partnerships for development – We do more than just pay our suppliers a little bit more or organise humanitarian aid. We won’t outprice the domestic market in the places we source materials, which would create a negative impact on the local economy. Instead, we will partner with existing small and medium-sized enterprises to help shape the market and grow together as a collective movement.
Technology – Khangai Yak fibre is a sustainable and all-natural material which is new to the market. Its uses are relatively unexplored and Tengri works with the latest manufacturing innovation and green technologies, partnering with established facilities to ensure that every aspect of the fibre can be used. Aware of our social and environmental responsibility, we also want to ensure that any innovation avoids adverse environmental impacts and minimizes waste.
Innovation and education – Designers of today and tomorrow need to be aware of the effect they can have on the fashion supply chain. Understanding how it works, how design can influence the production process and how they can be part of the solution is a key aspect of taking the industry forward. Through our Innovation Partnerships, Tengri partners with several faculties to teach (and learn) about supply chain practices and to create a space for inspiration, creativity and debate on the future of textiles, rewarding and supporting innovation through our Textile Talent Award.
These elements provide the foundation for the way Tengri operates – they are not an add-on or afterthought, but integral to the way we work. And because these elements are not static, we review these practices regularly and seek to update and improve them whenever we can.