Chocolate with a conscience

Alison Blades

Last updated 3/11/2008 10:06:50 AM

Chocolate promises us a lot.  Happiness, a warm glow inside, an instant way to say sorry, sensual pleasure... not bad for the humble cocoa bean.

Back in 19th century England, chocolate also brought with it social reform on an unprecedented scale, thanks to the Cadbury family.  The Cadbury family were members of the Society of Friends or Quakers.  Quakers hold strong beliefs and ideals about justice, equality and social reform. The Cadbury family put an end to the miserable conditions that their factory workers lived in and created Bournville: a ‘garden village' community of workers houses, each with their own front and rear gardens and proper sanitation. The project was hugely successful. Figures published in 1915 show that the general death rate and infant mortality for Bournville was significantly lower than that for Birmingham as a whole compared over a five-year period.

Continuing the ethos of George Cadbury, today the Bournville Village Trust provides special needs housing for the elderly, single people, unsupported mothers, children in care and the mentally handicapped.

Cadbury has extended its global social impact to embark on a sustainable cocoa farming project, aiming to improve the lives of 1 million cocoa farmers in Ghana, India, Indonesia and the Caribbean.  The project , run in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), marks 100 years since the Cadbury brothers first began trading in Ghana. In Ghana there is a phrase 'Kookoo cobatanpa' which means 'Cocoa is a good parent; it looks after you'.  UNDP's Resident Representative in Ghana Daouda TourĂ© said: "With this new public-private partnership approach developed with Cadbury, where both the small producer and the consumer benefit, we hope to show just how effectively sustainable cocoa production can be in generating improved opportunities for local farmers, conserving the environment and building a brighter future for younger generations."

The Cadbury tradition lives on.  If you are involved in a social enterprise, why not tell us about it.  Click Make a Comment, and then type in the box below. (You will need to be a registered user).