Chocolate entrepreneur reveals success secrets

Self-confessed chocoholic Jo Fairley gave an inspirational leadership seminar at Wolverhampton Science Park as part of the University’s Leadership and Development programme (LEAD).

She said watching the children’s TV programme as a youngster made her realise how small things could help developing countries. “It had a profound affect on me, seeing how you could make a difference” she said.

Jo and her entrepreneur husband Craig Sams are passionately committed to Fairtrade and set out to market the world’s first organic chocolate. Green & Black’s picked up a host of awards for entrepreneurial and ethical achievement, and were the first UK business to earn the Fairtrade mark.

The fortunes of the Maya Indians in Belize who grow the cocoa have since been transformed, with seven times more village children attending secondary school. The confectionary range is now owned by Cadbury’s.

Jo told a packed audience how Green & Black’s had grown from a small company into a hugely successful global brand.

“I came to the chocolate business as a chocolate lover with a deep green streak in me,” she said. “It has had a lot of positive effects; chocolate lovers get great chocolate and cocoa farmers get an entirely new way of life.”

She also revealed the challenges she has faced – from hurricanes to finances – and how she juggled a journalism career with her business, operating a “one-woman customer service” for eight years.

Jo said she believed hard work, a desire to do good and a sense of fun had helped her to be successful. A recent brand survey stated Green and Black’s was bigger than Marmite and cooler than Prada.

Dean of Students, Jon Elsmore, said he was delighted to welcome Jo: “Jo has been described as one of the pioneers of the Fairtrade movement . The University was granted Fairtrade status in 2008 and is committed to making Fairtrade goods available.”

Jo is the author of more than a dozen books, contributing editor to the Mail on Sunday YOU magazine and chair of a Soil Association committee. Jo and Craig now run an organic bakery and a health centre in Hastings.

Further information

For more information please contact Emma Kilvert in the Media Relations Office on 01902 322003.

Picture - From left to right:  Jon Elsmore, Jo Fairley and Philip Dearden

Picture - From left to right: Jon Elsmore, Matthew Bates, Jo Fairley, Susan Warrender and Brian Shiplee

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