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Photo Credit: Richard Nicholson for Sophi Tranchell MBE
Sophi Tranchell is Group CEO of Divine Chocolate, the innovative international Fairtrade company co-owned by a cocoa farmers’ co-operative in Ghana. Divine’s success, under Sophi’s leadership, is a powerful sign that social enterprise can deliver at scale, and a testament to her passionate commitment to changing the way business is done, in particular securing fairer, more sustainable and empowering relationships with smallholder farmers around the world.
Divine Chocolate, and Sophi herself, have garnered some of the top awards for social enterprise and sustainable business, most recently the Queens Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development. Sophi has been awarded Social Entrepreneur of the Year by both EY and the Schwab Foundation, and received her MBE for services to the food industry in 2008/9.
Each week, What Matters Most interviews a revolutionary leader from the business and activism world about what is most important to them in their life and work. We are deeply inspired by these people and we hope our readers will be too!
When were you happiest in your life?
Bringing in the New Year 2006 in St Lucia. It was our 15th Wedding Anniversary. We were sailing in the caribbean on a 35ft steel boat that my husband had made in our back garden in Lewisham - it was bright red and called Fairtrade. We celebrated on the beach in Rodney bay with our two children and my Mum and Dad.
What's the one thing you wish you knew 20 years ago?
I started at Divine 20 years ago so there are so many things that I know now that it would have been useful to know then. But I think knowing that Fairtrade would become so mainstream would have been very reassuring - as we were taking a leap of faith. 20 years ago Fairtrade awareness was 7% - now it is more than 80% and it also has a fantastic level of trust. I think Divine Chocolate has been part of building that trust and awareness. I hope that we have demonstrated that there really is a different way of doing business putting the cocoa farmer at the heart of it.
What matters the most to you in your work?
Apart from making delicious chocolate I hope that I am making a difference and helping to make the world a fairer place, where we all can thrive. In particular it matters that we are creating decent jobs here and better income for cocoa farmers.