The WE Program runs in factories in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Myanmar1, Pakistan, Turkey and Vietnam. These factories produce garments and textiles, as well as jewellery, electronics, furniture, metal- and kitchenware and leather items for Tchibo and other international customers. Our goal is to source 75% of Tchibo non-food products from WE factories.

The WE Program currently runs in eight countries. In every country a local team of external facilitators is responsible for the implementation of the program in factories.


The WE Program started in China in 2008 during a partnership with the German Development Cooperation (GIZ), after which it rolled out to Bangladesh, Laos2 and Thailand2. After a pilot phase the program has been expanded to more countries and more factories.

For all parties involved it was an experiment with no guaranteed outcome. In the words of Tchibo Director for Sustainability Nanda Bergstein, who has been involved from the beginning, it was actually ‘a big leap of faith’.

At first both workers and managers in the factories were skeptical of the program. For the workers engaging in dialogue with their managers was the world upside down. It was frightening for managers as well. They were concerned that setting up a worker representative system and creating a space for dialogue would result in unrest and more demanding workers.The proof of the pudding was of course in the eating. The program started, scientific research on its merits was conducted during this first phase and after two years there was no doubt: dialogue was not just possible, it was needed and it worked.

Tchibo has been expanding the program since the pilot phase. By the end of 2014 Cambodia, Ethiopia2, India, Turkey and Vietnam were integrated as WE countries and in 2017 Myanmar1 and Pakistan.

[1] The project is a joint pilot project with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It is implemented together with the Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar (IWFM) with the goal to empowering for social dialogue in factories and strengthening and promoting freedom of association.

[2] The program finished in Ethiopia, Laos and Thailand.