Talking to teens at Harris Academy

29 June 2009

Just returned from Harris Academy South Norwood – Business and Enterprise. Amazing new building only opened 2 years ago, state of the art, latest technology, white boards in every room. I did a Divine presentation to the whole of year 8 and select group of year 10  – about 250 people crammed into a hall. They were a high spirited group.  I used the introduction to the Pa pa paa – Dubble Take DVD. It really got their attention, so realise firsthand how well it must work as a teaching resource – even with easily distracted crowd. It gave them a real impression of how hard and hot it is farming cocoa in Ghana.

Got some lovely feedback “I did enjoy it, I want to go to Ghana to see what actually happens” “I learnt a lot about chocolate, and how it is made” “Sir, why don’t all businesses sell Fair Trade things?”

Here’s hoping some of them sign up as Dubble Agents at and change the world chunk by chunk.

posted by Sophi

Good night at the WEBA Awards

26 June 2009

Attended Triodos Women in Ethical Business Awards – 4th Year – in St Lukes on Old Street.  Wonderful collection of dynamic women running inspiring businesses doing an extraordinary range of things.  Fantastic canapés from Passion Organic (Maria Clancy). Impressive goodie bag.  Welcoming hospitality from all lovely people from Triodos pioneering bank.

Anne MacCaig of Cafedirect won Best Ethical Business, and made a lovely speech thanking the 250,000 farmers, and 38 staff, without which she wouldn’t be there accepting the award.  Heather Gardner of Zaytoun– Palestinian Olive Oil – won the award voted for by Times Readers (both Fairtrade).  We talked to Juliet Davenport from Good Energy – the first winner of the award – they are going from strength to strength.    Also talked Jamie from Ethical Property Company and Kate Welch from Acumen in NE, +  Jenny Silverthorne-Wright from Plush. Sam and her partner from Ethics Girls were there too.

Susi Lennox and her partner won one of the awards they are from Yes – pure intimacy (organic intimate lubricants) they were extraordinary!

The Times Sponsored the awards.  Parminder Bahra gave the readers award he is the Poverty and Development Correspondent.  Lovely man who feels he has a big opportunity and responsibility to make the job work.

Divine being given out at the end, lots of people came up to Dulcie and I to say haw much they loved the chocolate.

Another inspiring evening – hope for the future.

Posted by Sophi

Guess who’s loving Divine (3)

25 June 2009
Cherie Lunghi (photo by John Rogers)

Cherie Lunghi (photo by John Rogers)

Cherie Lunghi says:

“Chocolate is the ultimate feelgood treat – I’m unable to resist a lovely square of chocolate every now and then! But I’m fussy about what I choose, and I buy Divine not just because it’s so good, but also because it’s owned by cocoa farmers which gives them a share of the profits and real power in the chocolate market. That seems like a pretty good reason for indulging..”

Who else is loving Divine?

Richard Hammond and Dubble rev-up for Ladybird’s Father’s Day Reading Dads Campaign

19 June 2009
Reading Dads

Reading Dads

Dubble (Divine’s little sister brand – Fairtrade chocolate just for children) has partnered up with children’s publishers Ladybird and Top Gear star Richard Hammond for a series of really lovely Father’s Day events taking place at Borders bookstores across the country.

I was really surprised to learn that only 42% of fathers read to their children – compared to 76% of mothers. (National Year of Reading, 2008)

I cherished the times I spent reading together with my father and mother when I was little so I was personally really excited we were working with Ladybird and “the hamster” on their Reading Dads campaign this Father’s Day weekend (plus I’m a bit of a Richard Hammond fan!).  Dubble and Comic Relief have worked together over the past 10 years to create some really innovative educational resources for teachers and children, so Reading Dads was something Dubble was particularly keen to support.

Click here for details on what’s lined up for dads and children at Borders stores this weekend.  And do make sure you check out Richard Hammond read his favourite fairytale, Three Billy Goats Gruff, on Ladybird’s Reading Dads microsite – it’ll give dads inspiration on reading aloud and for the rest of us it’s a nostalgic trip back to childhood!  Every father and child will be given an events pack to take home which includes a bar of Dubble.  When I was little I just adored settling in for an afternoon of reading with my father – and a yummy, chunky bar of Dubble would certainly have been a nice addition.  Dubble bars have been designed for children by children but adults seriously love it too (my father for one!  It’s his favourite of the entire Divine & Dubble range) – a chunky snack-size bar of milk chocolate (with cocoa grown by Kuapa farmers in Ghana, just like Divine) covering a caramelised crispy crunch. 

And if you can’t make it to your nearest Borders store this weekend, kids can always join in online on the Dubble website.  If you sign up to become a ‘Dubble Agent’ (a young Fairtrade supporter) you can enter a competition to win a selection of Ladybird books and Dubble chocolates!

Happy Father’s Day!

Mr Buah reports from Kuapa Kokoo

16 June 2009
Mr Buah, President of Kuapa Kokoo Farmers' Union

Mr Buah, President of Kuapa Kokoo Farmers' Union

Kuapa Kokoo is the best thing that has happened in the lives of farmers since the liberalization of the cocoa sector in Ghana. 

I’m in a good position to say this because I have experienced its benefits firsthand, and have risen to the top of the organisation. I went through a series of elections before being elected as national President. I was first elected recorder of my society (Twifo Wamaso), and then became the Area President of Twifo Praso Area in the Central Region of Ghana.

At the moment the major challenge for farmers this year is that the weather has changed. The rains did not come when they were supposed to. I pray that the light crop which starts in September will be better.

We are happy Cadbury is going to change a bit of its business to Fairtrade, and is following the footsteps of our Divine Chocolate and doing the right thing . This is what we have always wanted – to increase our sales to the Fairtrade market in order to get more premiums to improve our lives.

I however wish to entreat people to be loyal to Divine and buy more. Divine is ours, we own 45% of shares and this means that we get a big part of their profits. For instance last year, we used part of the Dividend Divine paid us to purchase over 45,000 cutlasses (machetes) for our members. All of us want Divine to be profitable because it is our business, and through it we not only get money – but we come to understand more about the industry we supply, and how to have a stronger voice in it.  We own our own little share of the huge and valuable chocolate market!

Schoolchildren in rural Ghana talk about their hopes and dreams

15 June 2009
Webcasting in Ghana

Filming in Ghana

I’ve just looked at this lovely little film on the Pa Pa Paa website.

It’s a brand new unedited webcast made by schoolchildren in rural Ghana, filmed especially to celebrate International Day of the Africa Child tomorrow (Tuesday 16th June).  The children, who are sons and daughters of cocoa farmer members of the Kuapa Kokoo co-operative, talk about their hopes and dreams for the future. 

You need to wait a couple of minutes for the children to stop laughing about being on film (very sweet though!) but this is then followed by some really lovely and genuine viewpoints on their future life and career goals.

One pupil voices her desire to move to the capital of Ghana and become a journalist, while another would prefer to stay in the countryside and be a cocoa farmer like his parents.  One boy would like to have 10 children; while another is keen to earn enough to buy a Hummer or a VW Golf like his doctor-friend! 

Find out more about the making of this webcast which is part of a series of webcasts providing a childs-eye view of Ghanaian life.  Pa Pa Paa LIVE is the brainchild of Comic Relief and Fairtrade charity Trading Visions.  It’s a fantastic facility for schools in the UK to directly interact with students from Ghana, so that they can exchange views on the similarities and differences between their lives.

Visit the Divine website for the full story.

You’re Hired! A Divine behind-the-scenes account of The Apprentice final

8 June 2009
Charlotte in The Apprentice audience

Charlotte in The Apprentice audience

For over half a year we’ve held on to a tantalising secret that millions (10.6m if you go by last nights’ viewing figures) have been itching to know: who would make The Apprentice final and what would be their final task?

On a dark, rainy October night last year, Charlotte and I were among 200 chocolate aficionados hand picked by The Apprentice  production team (who were particularly eager for us to attend being great Divine fans themselves) to help Sir Alan in his ultimate selection.  We were escorted to a top secret film location (Vinopolis in London Bridge) for the final between Kate Walsh and Yasmina Siadatan as they battled it out with help of previously fired candidates, to launch and market a brand new box of chocolates.

We were the only Fairtrade chocolate brand amongst the likes of chocolatiers including Demarquette, Paul A Young and Rococo; mainstream chocolate brands Thorntons and Cadburys; as well as representatives from Waitrose and Sainsburys, ad agency TBWA, The Chocolate Society, The Academy of Chocolate and Chocolate Week  (which Divine sponsors each year).

When Sir Alan himself marched into the room everyone fell duly silent, whereupon the straight talking hotshot addressed the crowd, explaining what the candidates had had to do.  We were then promptly ushered to our seats and the pitches began.

Kate was up first – hers was an undeniably polished pitch.  And the approval was unanimous, not just for her presentation, but for the all important chocolates.  Designed with the help of chocolatier Paul A Young, they were sumptuously delicious (particularly the caramel & sea salt combo).  We chatted with, and swapped tasting notes with Nick from Prestat and Claire from Chococo who sat with us.  The echoes from surrounding tables confirmed what we all thought – Kate’s were supreme quality chocolates.  We guzzled them up pretty swiftly!

Only a couple of questions from the guests made the final cut but both Kate and Yasmina were grilled remarkably comprehensively.  Despite guests raising their hands and being randomly selected to ask questions, every second question seemed to be asked by a representative from Thorntons, so there were a few withering sighs from the audience after the fourth or fifth Thorntons question! 

Then came the turn of Yasmina.  We were escorted to a different room, this time decked out Cocoa Electric style.  The rather makeshift table decorations and Eighties roller disco branding left a little to be desired!  What viewers last night may not have seen was that Yasmina’s chocolates were ball shaped, with each ball being wrapped in a different colour of foil – fluorescent pinks, lime greens etc.  They’d clearly been wrapped by hand so didn’t look overly tempting.  Nevertheless the flavours sounded fun and we were keen to try the strawberry & basil and orange & coriander ones in particular.  But if you’ve already seen the show you’ll be left in little doubt that they did next to nothing for the taste buds.  Suffice to say they were pretty awful, the quality of the chocolate itself being dire.  I certainly wasn’t the only one to spit them out!

The atmosphere in the audience was fairly electric even without Yasmina’s super-charged decorations: one notable element of the night was a certain degree of chocolate snobbery between the wide ranging chocolate companies in attendance. 

After the cameras had stopped rolling Sir Alan’s aides Nick and Margaret circled the rooms asking guests for their opinions on the chocolates, the pitches and the adverts so we were able to voice our thoughts on both Kate and Yasmina’s contributions.  The overarching consensus amongst the guests was that Kate was the out and out winner – but of course we hadn’t seen how she and Yasmina had fared throughout the previous tasks. 

All in all being at the hub of this chocolate-charged grand finale was an unforgettable experience.  See if you can spot Charlotte and I on BBC iplayer.