Divine Chocolate, a UK-based social enterprise, has been revealed as the latest ambassador for the Government’s ‘Business is GREAT’ campaign. The campaign, which was launched in autumn 2013, is designed to build confidence amongst small businesses with the aim of helping employers with their plans to grow, hire, export and find funding.
As ambassadors, Divine Chocolate will appear in print, digital and outdoor advertising across the UK from today. The growing chocolate brand will join other SMEs such as Brompton Bikes, Westons Cider and Tangle Teezer, to signpost businesses to find out more about the support they can access from Government.
There are 180,000 social enterprise small businesses in the UK, making up 15% of all Britain’s small firms*. Divine Chocolate is one of these companies and is owned in part (45%) by Ghanaian cocoa farmers, making it the only farmer-owned Fairtrade chocolate company.
The business was formed in 1998 by Twin Trading (the company which also set up Cafédirect), following an idea from Kuapa Kokoo, a cocoa farming co-operative in Ghana. The now 18-strong team based in Southwark, London, grew by accessing a £400,000 loan guarantee from Government, which enabled the fledgling company to secure funding and the means by which the farmers could earn their share in the business.
To help Divine Chocolate grow, the company accessed the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programme to enhance the skills of its business. Under the KTP, Divine has worked with Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU). Three separate departments of LJMU were able to assist Divine from developing packaging and food technologies, to their business processes.
Since 2002, Divine has had a contract with Starbucks to produce the chain’s own-label chocolate bars for the UK and Europe, which includes Russia and Turkey. The business also sells to Scandinavia, Germany and the Netherlands, mainly via Fairtrade specialists who sell a range of Fairtrade products. The company is looking to recruit and expand to new markets moving forward.
Sophi Tranchell, Managing Director of Divine Chocolate, said: “We were thrilled to be approached to support the ‘Business is GREAT’ campaign. Small businesses are the backbone of the economy and there are so many businesses, managers and entrepreneurs out there doing great things. I’m an advocate for innovation and doing things differently, so it’s exciting to see the new kinds of business and social enterprises that can be set up. By telling our story, hopefully we can spark the fire of ambition in other businesses looking to grow, hire or export.”
Matthew Hancock, Minister for Skills and Enterprise said:
“Small businesses are crucial to the success of our economy, which is why we are showcasing the best of British business through our ‘Business is GREAT campaign’, and working with Divine Chocolate most recently. We want employers across the UK to know about the support Government is providing to make it easier to start and grow a small business.”
The campaign aims to inspire businesses through the success of others and showcase best practice across the country. The initiative highlights support for businesses aspiring to succeed and demonstrates the wealth of services available to them including advice, expertise and funding.
Nearly one in five (16%) of recent social enterprise start-ups export or license products abroad and 82% of social enterprises reinvest their profits locally. Additionally, social enterprises are more likely than SME employers overall to have introduced new or significantly improved products or services (55% compared to 43% for SMEs)*.
This week marks the start of Fairtrade Fortnight where Divine Chocolate will have a pop-up shop in Monmouth Street, Covent Garden and will be touring the UK with two farmer members of the Kuapo Kokoo.
The ‘Business is GREAT’ campaign (www.greatbusiness.gov.uk) offers information, guidance and support for businesses to take the next step in their growth journey.
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