Our Story

What's in a name?

The name Tembo is the Swahili word for elephant.  One of our founders, Matt Fudge (yes, that is his real name) was on a climbing trip through East Africa when he came across the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust project, whose mission is the conservation of orphaned elephants and rhinos.  
We believe innovation and entrepreneurship is the greatest vehicle for change.  If businesses act responsibly and become stewards of the earth, their customers can support this and be a part of it. 

Why chalk?  
As a gymnast, then a climber, Matt has been using chalk and hanging on for dear life since practically day 1.  A healthy obsession with chalk & a burgeoning relationship with some chemists led to way too much knowledge to not turn what we had found into a business.   

Why ours is different?
In our research, we discovered that a lot of climbing chalk is being sourced from a factory in China with some very questionable conditions both for the planet and the local labour used to manufacture it.  This didn't sit well with us so we made it our mission to do things differently and hold ourselves to a much higher standard.  Our chalk is ethically produced and meets strict ISO 9000 quality standards and ISO 14000 environmental standards.  What do you know, if you demand higher quality standards, out comes a higher quality product. We believe we have the best chalk on earth!

No single use plastic
We also felt that there is just too much plastic packaging in the world so you will find our chalk comes in paper bags made from recycled material and are 100% compostable (no liners or coating whatsoever).  
We also started the one and only ‘Chalk By The Scoop’ program in climbing gyms, where climbers can simply fill their chalk bags at the local gym.  No packaging at all!

Tembo is new to the chalk game - we, uh, are still packing chalk in Steve's basement - but are growing quickly.  

If you'd like to try the best chalk you've ever used, be confident that what you are using is ethically sourced, helps to support an incredible conservation effort, and all for a great price - come check us out, we'd really appreciate it! 

The Begining


This is the picnic table where Tembo began.   Though the idea and the research began years earlier, the logo was etched and domain names purchased at this very spot at The Land of Arches campground in The Red River Gorge, Kentucky.  

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust


This is Matt Fudge (co-founder) at the DSWT in 2015, a couple of years before Tembo was born.  

100% Handpackaged


If you have ever ordered chalk from us, you can be assured that it was hand scooped and packaged in Steve's basement.

Chalk Sock Funnel


This is the 1st prototype of our chalk sock funnel in 2016.  It was printed on a 3D printer in the Guelph public library.


Meet the team behind the dream!

Matt Fudge - Sultan of Exploration

Once mistaken for a real yeti, he wanders the mountains aimlessly looking for the best perch and advance our premium powder.

Nancy Nillson -  Visual Visionary

Nancy can be found yodeling in the mountains of Squamish or Finland depending on which way the wind is blowin. By yodeling, we of course mean graphic design. With experience designing guide books and climbing wear, she is our visual visionary

Steve Hamilton - Disciple of Digital

Foraying Frequently into the vast abyss of all things virtual, he is the humble shepherd of our binary beast.  A clockwork human in our digital age.

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