Sophi Tranchell MBE
Richard Nicholson

 

Sophi Tranchell, CEO of the acclaimed farmer-owned company Divine Chocolate, is today named as a Schwab Social Entrepreneur of the Year – the most prestigious international award for social innovation.

Tranchell was chosen, after a rigorous selection process, for the role she has played in demonstrating how a much more equitable trading relationship with smallholder farmers in Africa can not only work, but also flourish in highly competitive environments in both UK and USA, and provide a model for a sustainable future for cocoa. The award provides winners with direct access to the World Economic Forum which meets with political and business elite at the annual Davos summit.

Sophi Tranchell says: “I am delighted and honoured to have been selected as a Schwab Social Entrepreneur.  It gives a powerful and prestigious endorsement to what Divine Chocolate represents – a business model empowering both farmers and consumers which is setting a standard in the highly competitive global chocolate market.” 

“I am a passionate believer that, in order to secure a sustainable future for many of the foods we take for granted, we need to develop new ways of doing business that put smallholder farmers higher up the value chain.  Our dependency on them – to grow our foods, and look after the land,  and in turn their dependency on enough income to invest in their families, farms and communities – needs to be properly recognised in the way global trade is done.”

“The Schwab award gives us the opportunity to bring this successful example to the attention of a highly influential forum of corporate, political, academic and media leaders who are responsible for shaping and influencing policy at the global level. We want to make sure that Divine can continue to be a catalyst for change worldwide, and that as a result more farmers will have a “seat at the table” and a share in the wealth they are helping to create.”

“A key focus of this forum will be the Sustainable Development Goals, with which Divine Chocolate and its owner, the Kuapa Kokoo farmers’ cooperative in Ghana, are closely aligned – particularly in championing empowerment for women farmers, and nurturing democracy and good governance.”

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship is a not-for-profit, independent and neutral organization, founded in 1998, providing unparalleled platforms at the regional and global level to highlight and advance leading models of sustainable social innovation. It identifies a select community of social entrepreneurs and engages it in shaping global, regional and industry agendas that improve the state of the world in close collaboration with the other stakeholders of the World Economic Forum.

Awards are made, after a rigorous selection process, to entrepreneurs from around the world in a wide variety of fields. This year three of the awards were made to applicants from Europe – Sophi Tranchell is the only award winner from the UK.  The Award delivers membership of the World Economic Forum, and a seat at Davos. To date there are 250 Schwab Social Entrepreneurs.

Sophi Tranchell has been the first and only Managing Director of Divine Chocolate since she was appointed in 1999, a year after the company was first established.  She has led this innovative company, from a team of four with a very bold proposition, to the international £12.6m company it is today.  Her belief in, and dedication to, the company’s purpose and mission – to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers through a more sustainable and equitable trading relationship – has been fundamental to the company’s success.  The company’s unique business model – which gives cocoa farmers the biggest share, and seats on the Board, in addition to the benefits from Fairtrade – has become a leading example of what is possible both in the Fairtrade movement and of a social enterprise reaching international scale in a highly competitive sector.

Sophi has won a number of social enterprise awards, and was awarded an MBE for services to the food industry. She has steered Divine through many very tough challenges, and has been most proud of some of the key events which have proved change is possible – from working with The Co-operative to convert all their own label chocolate to Fairtrade, to seeing the first Dividend cheque being handed to the farmers of Kuapa Kokoo, and a cocoa farmer on the front page of the news in Washington DC when Divine launched in USA.

CV:

·         Divine Chocolate established 1998

·         Sophi Tranchell joins as MD 1999

·         First dividend to Kuapa Kokoo farmers 2007

·         Best Social Enterprise 2007 (Social Enterprise Coalition)

·         The Observer Ethical Business of the Year 2008

·         Sophi Tranchell given MBE for services to the Food Industry

·         Sophi Tranchell joins London Food Board

·         Sophi Tranchell named Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2010

·         Social Enterprise of the Year 2014

·         The Guardian Sustainable Business Award for Social Innovation 2015

·         Divine Chocolate announces £12.6m turnover 2014-15 after merger with US business

Ends:

For interviews, further information and images please contact Charlotte Borger on charlotte@divinechocolate.com

Editors notes:

 

 

·         The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship was founded in 1998 by Klaus & Hilde Schwab. Known as the “sister organization” of the World Economic Forum, the Schwab Foundation manages the largest global community of late-stage Social Entrepreneurs – over 300 for-profit and non-profit social enterprises with operations in more than 60 countries.

·          Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurs are fully integrated into the meetings, activities, and initiatives of the World Economic Forum. They benefit from peer-to-peer exchange and insight with each other and from support services provided by corporate partners. Social Entrepreneurs meaningfully contribute their expertise and experience to shape global, regional and industry agendas to improve the state of the world in close collaboration with the other stakeholder groups of the World Economic Forum.

·         For more information visit http://www.schwabfound.org/

 

·         Divine Chocolate is the only Fairtrade chocolate company that is also co-owned by cocoa farmers. Kuapa Kokoo, a co-operative of over 80,000 cocoa farmers in Ghana, benefit not only  from the Fairtrade premium on the sale of their beans, but also receive the largest share  (44%) of Divine’s distributable profits giving the farmers more economic stability, as well as the increased influence in the cocoa industry company-ownership brings

 

·         Divine is a mission-driven business.  Its mission is “To grow a successful global farmer-owned chocolate company using the amazing power of chocolate to delight and engage, and bring people together to create dignified trading relations, thereby empowering producers and consumers.”

 

·         The Fairtrade cocoa in Divine chocolate is fully traceable from bean to bar

 

·         Divine invests 2% of its turnover in Producer Support and Development project co-managed by Twin and Kuapa Kokoo, and in collaboration with local Government and NGOs. These are aimed particularly at empowerment of women, maintaining good governance, and testing different farming techniques – and include an adult literacy and numeracy programme, and a model farm project.

 

o   Divine Chocolate is GMO and palm oil free, and has Kosher and Halal certified products in the range.

 

·         Divine is sold in UK, USA, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Czech Republic, South Korea, Japan and Australia

 

·         Keep up to date with Divine UK online:

o   Everything you need to know about Divine: www.divinechocolate.com/uk

o   For trade enquiries visit: http://www.divinechocolate.com/uk/trade

o   Follow Divine on Twitter: www.twitter.com/divinechocolate

o   Follow Divine on Facebook: www.facebook.com/divinechocolate

·         Keep up to date with Divine USA online:

o   www.divinechocolate.com/us

o   www.twitter.com/DivineChocUSA

o   www.facebook.com/DivineChocolateUSA

·         All Divine products carry the Fairtrade Mark. This is an independent guarantee certified by  Fairtrade International that the ingredients are sourced under internationally agreed fair trade terms and conditions. These include a guaranteed, secure minimum price, an extra social premium payment for the farmers to invest in their own community programmes, long term trading contracts, decent health and safety conditions – all aimed at empowering farmers to make their own improvements to living standards and prospects for the future. For more about Fairtrade visit  www.fairtrade.org.uk