By Sophi Tranchell, Managing Director of Divine Chocolate
I believe in the potential for business to make positive social change. This ethos is at the heart of what we do at Divine – we create trading relationships where people are valued just as much as profits. I am passionate about changing the way the world thinks about business. That’s one of the reasons why I got involved in the ‘Business is GREAT Britain’ campaign. I want to raise the profile of social enterprises like Divine and inspire others to create businesses that have a positive impact on the world around them.
“Business is GREAT Britain” aims to build confidence amongst small businesses and encourage them to plan, hire and export. It raises awareness of the Government support available to small firms to help them achieve their growth ambitions. At Divine, we have benefited from this support. We used the Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme, which gives businesses access to the knowledge and expertise within UK universities. We worked with Liverpool John Moores University who helped us with our packaging, food technologies and business processes. We have also had access to export markets through UK Trade & Investment food trade fairs. This has been incredibly valuable for us and has helped us to enhance the skills and reach of our business.
Divine is one of 180,000 social enterprises in the UK. The company is 45% owned by a co-operative of 80,000 Ghanaian cocoa farmers. We operate a marketing and distribution company in the UK, sub-contracting the chocolate manufacture. The Kuapa Kokoo farmers supply the cocoa, which is delivered to the chocolate factory in a traceable and sustainable supply chain, and receive a guaranteed Fairtrade price plus a social premium which the farmers invest in community improvements like drinking water, healthcare, and schools. In addition to this the farmers receive their share of distributed profit, and 2% of Divine income for producer support and development. The power of Divine to drive change in the farmers’ community is what drives me to grow the business. The more successful Divine becomes, the more benefits the company brings to the cocoa producers and their families. Key to our success as a business is the people we recruit and ensuring our staff buy into and are driven by our mission and values, on both sides of the Atlantic.
We’re delivering six per cent growth and we’re in a good place to build the company. We have a contract with Starbucks to produce the chain’s own-label chocolate bars for the UK and Europe, which includes Russia and Turkey. We also sell to Scandinavia, Germany and the Netherlands, mainly via Fairtrade specialists who sell a range of Fairtrade products.
Through Business is GREAT Britain, I hope that other businesses with a social ambition will access the support they need in order to grow and make a difference. We have managed to make change happen: consumers have got fabulous chocolate, and the farmers get a fair share. We make a difference every day.
Sophi is a Business is GREAT Britain ambassador and appears in the campaign’s latest advertising campaign. To find out more about the business support available to you, visit: www.greatbusiness.gov.uk