As many of you know, the heart of Tegu’s mission is to have a positive social impact on the people, environment and economy of Honduras. In addition to providing meaningful, living-wage jobs to Hondurans, Tegu partners with Trees for the Future to promote forest conservation and AFE (“Love, Faith and Hope” in Spanish) to help educate Honduran children in need.
On March 29, Tegu factory employees, Trees for the Future and AFE gathered at the school for a day of learning and fun. We began the morning hearing about AFE’s progress since its inception in 2003, rescuing numerous children from Tegucigalpa’s trash dump and offering a high quality education. Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, and due to the lack of opportunities, many families work in the trash dump collecting materials that can be redeemed for money. Many of these family’s children have very limited resources, and AFE provides not only an education, but also a stable environment in which they can grow. At Tegu, we love the work that AFE does and also love spending time at the school when we get the opportunity. To date, Tegu has funded 3,326 days of education for AFE students.
We next heard from Josh Bogart, the Central American coordinator for Trees for the Future. Josh spoke to us about the importance of forest conservation and sustainability. To illustrate this, Josh brought a handful of kids to the front to act as “trees.” He showed us the role trees play for our environment: a home for animals, shade, watershed protection and oxygen generation, just to name a few! A significant portion of the Honduran rainforest was lost to illegal logging in the 1990s, and unfortunately illegal logging continues today. We hope that by educating these young children about the importance of forest ecology, they will become future partners in conservation. Tegu’s contributions to Trees for the Future have resulted in nearly 35,000 trees being planted in Honduras. Following the talk, we broke into teams and got down and dirty planting new citrus trees around AFE’s playground. Kids and adults alike had a blast!
Below are photos from the day. We look forward to watching the trees grow!
Tegu Wooden Toys Fly The Honduran and American Flags!
Here at Tegu we are delighted to feel the love from our amazing and loyal customers. We have received so many encouraging and kind comments on our Connect page that it’s fitting to answer back with a sincere and humble THANK YOU! Thanks to all of you who read our blog, have liked us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Thanks to our faithful clientele that have convinced local toy stores to carry our products and have turned their whole crew into Tegu fans. And the list goes on…
Ruth Wilson recently left a comment pointing out how much we’ve grown. This remark got us reminiscing; it started with a team of 2 and now we are at 70 employees strategically located on the west coast, east coast, Honduras and now Europe! Tegu USA started out in a 100 sq ft space and launched two new products, and we are now stretched out in a 1000 sq ft. office offering 12 products and 5 different finishes. So yes! We’ve grown and you all have been essential to this.
On a more personal note, as a Honduran I am truly grateful for having all of you as Ambassadors to my country; for helping promote our unique and beautiful hardwoods, for supporting job creation and our economy. You are planting trees and supporting education. You are helping renew Honduras through the purchase and sharing of Tegu’s magnetic wooden toys.
So on behalf of the Tegu Team and 8 million Hondurans, thank you! We are very grateful for your continued support.
One of Tegu’s biggest fans – Daniela’s daughter Sofia!
Will Haughey, Tegu co-founder and Chief Blockhead, shared the Tegu Story while on vacation to reconnect with his Kiwi roots.
Hello Queenstown, New Zealand!
The interview started with questions that many who hear about Tegu for the first time often wonder. Why Honduras? “Why would you establish a company in one of the least developed and unstable countries in Central America? Why are you making life so hard for yourself Will?”
Will recalled that it all started while his brother Chris was travelling through the country and felt compelled to do something about the extreme poverty and dire economy. The brothers were soon “struck by the reality that the best way to serve the poor was through the creation of a business that could stand on its own two feet and be attached to the global economy.”
Honduras is a country of 7 million people with 65% of its population living below the poverty line. As Will pointed out during the interview, it is “a difficult environment to say the least but that’s exactly why it needs businesses like Tegu.”
Thus far Tegu has created 50+ stable jobs in Honduras, pays above market wages, supports reforestation and local education, and uses FSC-certified and sustainable hardwoods. In the words of the interviewer, it is an example of “capitalism with a social face.”
The concluding question in the interview was particularly interesting: “What’s next? How big can you get?” Will answered: “our vision is to create the world’s most innovative premium toy company” and to “create hundreds if not thousands of jobs.”
Today, half of our business — the US-based team — will celebrate Thanksgiving with its friends and loved ones. We’re delighted to take a step back and recharge before the holiday season gets going in earnest first thing tomorrow, on Block Friday (yes, there’s no typo there). We’re also pumped to say that we served pumpkin and pecan pie at the factory today for lunch even though most of our workers have never heard of Thanksgiving, nor understand the reason for celebration.
Tegu is not just a toy company; Tegu is a social enterprise.
We’ve had another incredible year, and we owe so much of this success to the hundreds of retailers out there now carrying our products. And, we owe thanks to you, our faithful, loyal customers who have chosen to invest in Tegu for yourself or the little ones in your life. We consider it a tremendous honor and joy to design children’s products and we wish we could share with you now all of our plans for the future, but, alas, that’s not what today’s message is about.
Today we say thank YOU, because without your support, our social mission wouldn’t be possible. As many of you know, beyond designing and manufacturing inventive new toys, Tegu has a deep social priority at its core: we were founded to help the nation of Honduras by creating jobs for the unemployed and underemployed. We’ve invested directly in the poor, and we’re proud to say that this investment is paying off in so many wonderful ways. At 50 fantastic factory jobs, our family in Honduras is growing, and the impact we see each day is increasingly so encouraging. So, from the folks in Tegucigalpa to the team in Darien, Connecticut, we say thank you. We hope you’ll enjoy this video glimpse of the impact you’ve helped make possible. Thank you for helping us make a difference; now let’s move from strength to strength. We wish all of you a fantastic holiday season. May it be your best one yet!
We are delighted to share the news that Tegu is being considered for a sizable video grant from Free Range Studios. These guys are the makers of the tremendously successful, multi-million viewed piece “The Story of Stuff“. READ: Please resist the urge to dismiss this posting — we need YOUR help.
In true web2.0 style, the winners will be selected by public vote. This is where YOU (yes, you) come in. If you’re reading this posting right now and you have less than 1 minute to spare, you can do our toy company a huge favor by casting THREE (yes, 3) votes for us to be the winners. Currently, we’re top of the charts on the voting scale in the Socially-Responsible for-Profit category with 520 votes.
Go to Free Range’s Voting Portal and click the “VOTE NOW” button. You’ll be directed to the Environment and Conservation page (see screen shot below). Find the categories list on the right-hand margin of the page (highlighted in blue on the screen shot). Scroll down to “Socially-Responsible For-Profit“. When that page loads, you’ll see “Tegu: Toys to Change a Nation“. Underneath the voting counter, click “vote” 3 times to give us your 3 (no pressure!!). If you haven’t already done so, the site will ask you to sign in. This is actually really simple, especially if you already have a Facebook or Twitter account.
Vote for Tegu (Thrice over)
Then, if you’re really feeling generous, help us spread the word through your friends, Facebook and Twitter accounts. Here’s a blurb you can copy and paste:
I’m requesting a favor: I’d love YOUR vote to help an awesome new toy company fulfill its unique poverty-fighting mission in Honduras. Click this link to vote now: http://bit.ly/rOXLU
Today was the first day of recruiting at Tegu Honduras. When we drove into the industrial park this morning, about 150 people were waiting at the security gate. The crowd grew to over 200 by 10AM, when we allowed a controlled number (65) to come into our factory and register to be considered for a position with Tegu.
We had our recruits fill out information forms and basic math and comprehension tests. We did a basic vision test for everyone and then physical aptitude / dexterity tests (following instructions to operate a circular saw to cut precise wood pieces from a board and accurately placing magnets on a metal surface per instructions). It took about 4 hours for the Tegu team of 6 to lead all the recruits through the various stations, and we certainly learned a lot during the course of the day. We will do another such first round evaluation with another 60 people or so on Friday morning, leading into interviews which will begin on Saturday. Needless to say, amongst many other things going on in the factory setup, we are very busy!
We are currently looking to fill 10-12 production positions, and the fact that we had upwards of 200 people waiting for us (without making any kind of general announcement prior to today) points to the extreme scarcity of jobs, especially good ones, in Honduras. We hope one day to employ hundreds of Hondurans – for now, we are figuring out how to hire a few good men and women
The following is an essay I wrote for the 2007-2008 SEVEN Fund Essay Contest for which I was a finalist. The essay was fun to write and helps explain my belief in Tegu as a force of positive change in Honduras. Read on if you dare:
Independent of ideology, I believe that every decent human being in our world today is willing to make some personal sacrifice in order to, as Bono says, “Make poverty history.” Increasingly during the past few decades of global economic expansion, provocative literature has suggested that indeed a small financial contribution by a few million Western households will lead to the abolition of poverty. While useful for sizing certain societal ills: X billion dollars will cure malaria, Y billion dollars will provide clean drinking water for all Africans, and Z billion dollars will give all children basic education, this literature offers little practical use. Why? These books simplify poverty into an issue that can be solved by brute wealth redistribution of an imagined fixed number of economic goods, in spite of the fact that collectivist reform has never worked in world history.
Economic collectivism clearly failed in the Soviet Union and China, and is currently failing in Zimbabwe. Despite this appalling record, people continue to propose similar schemes as the solution to worldwide poverty. Why do we fall into this trap so consistently? The answer lies in our guilt and our desire to assuage it. Wealth, more specifically wealth disparity, gives rise to personal and societal guilt. We feel pity for those who are less fortunate and desire to do something about it. Most often we deal with these feelings by giving away some portion of our wealth directly through personal donations or indirectly through government. This is supposed to make us feel better, but what does it do for the plight of the poor?
In most cases, we fail to take the time to see what happened to our money, and some never know if their dollars made any difference in the world. We avoid following up for many petty reasons. First, we prefer the path of least resistance. Since follow up takes effort, we tend to avoid it. For example, if my wife were hospitalized I would immediately be at her bedside. Contrarily, if my friend’s wife were hospitalized I would feel compelled to visit, but would likely just send flowers. Too often, we opt for sending flowers because it is easy. Second, our charity is often more about our guilt than their plight. Once we give, we feel better about ourselves and wishful thinking helps us believe our money made a difference. Third, we fear learning about how our actions perpetuate a system of handouts and external dependency. Follow up might reveal how our charity has convinced people that Western welfare is more rewarding than working. Without follow up, we cannot hope to make any significant progress.