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OPINION: A Divine Vision for Change at Davos

PUBLISHED: Mon, 16 Jan 2017 14:52:41 GMT

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This year, for the first time, I am joining the world leaders at Davos.  This year’s agenda will be looking at some very important areas under the heading Responsive and Responsible Leadership – but I’m concerned they risk neglecting the key underlying problems.

I am deeply uncomfortable about the rise of concepts such as “caring capitalism” and “responsible capitalism” – until capitalism itself is fundamentally re-engineered these will remain oxymorons – a sense of wolves dressed in cuddly sheep’s clothing.

As a Schwab Social Entrepreneur of the Year, and CEO ofDivine Chocolate, an international company proving that business can be done differently and leading by example, I cherish the opportunity to challenge the leaders and all the vested interests gathered at Davos.

I want to keep the focus on Inequality– which remains the most fundamental barrier to making any kind of lasting positive change.

Globalisation, while undoubtedly working for some people, is actually a driver of inequality.  More people have been left behind, and the wonders of new technology means that now they know it.

Last year Oxfam sent out a press release that said that 62 people own the equivalent of the value of half the world   http://www.oxfam.org.uk/media-centre/press-releases/2016/01/62-people-own-same-as-half-world-says-oxfam-inequality-report-davos-world-economic-forum Why isn’t inequality the main focus at Davos?  We are hearing much of the “rise of popularism” and “those left behind”.  The inescapable fact is that, for more people to do better in a world of finite resources, some people will have to do a little less well.

Divine Chocolateis trying to address some of the big problems the world faces today in a small way but we have always had big ambitions.  Through the delightful medium of chocolate we are bringing producers and consumers closer together so that they can know each other, they can respect each other and they can truly cherish the transaction.

Some of the ways we have been addressinginequalitythrough our unique business model include:

Giving farmers more influence in the agricultural supply chain– the “free market” is really only “free” for those that have the power, size and influence to drive it.  Divine’s model, where its cocoa farmer suppliers are the biggest shareholders in the company, delivers not only a more sustainable income, but also profit, knowledge and power to enable farmers to have a real voice in the industry, and to invest in the future of their families, farms and communities

Empowering women– in a world of too many “poor relations” women are the poorest.  In societies and supply chains globally, women come off worst and invariably receive less benefits and value than the men around them.  Women and girls not only have a human right to equality, it is clear their full participation in, and leading contributions to, society and business would enhance the world and the way we together work towards ‘globalisation for all’.  Divine invests 2% of its annual income in projects run in collaboration with its farmer owners that give farmers the tools to improve their skills and their prospects – including empowering women to participate fully in their communities and organisation, and benefit fairly from their contribution to the supply chain.

Divine Chocolate Topline:

  • Divine Chocolate is a £12m business, based in UK and USA, and its products are sold worldwide
  • Divine Chocolate is 44% owned by the cocoa farmers of Kuapa Kokoo, a co-operative of over 85,000 members in Ghana.  Farmers are the biggest shareholder, they have two places on our Board, and through Divine they have enjoyed additional income, shared profit, access to market information and forums, and their own voice in the chocolate industry
  • All Divine products are Fairtrade certified
  • Divine has just been certified a B Corp, making its business operations as transparent and accountable as its supply chain
  • Divine is about to publish a report on its work with Kuapa Kokoo to empower women cocoa farmers

I will be at Davos from 14-20th January. Would you be interested in talking beforehand, and/or meeting while we are there?  I look forward to hearing from you.  You can reach me on my email sophi@divinechocolate.com or via gemma@divinechocolate.com or charlotteb@divinechocolate.com


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