• Gianna

#52 "What is your Fair Trade?"

Grounds of Change #52 is all about Ben Conrad. Ben is the founder of Five North Chocolate; a sustainable sourcing, certified LGBT Business enterprise supporting cacao farmers around the world by making Fair Trade certified chocolate snacks. Go buy yourself some chocolate!

As a high schooler, Ben played the clarinet, marched in the marching band and ran cross country. His afterschool job was at a retail store that sold Fair Trade products. This means that the products were fairly exchanged with artisans and farmers throughout the world. At an early age, Ben became aware of people worldwide that needed market access for their goods and products at a fair sustainable price, simply so they can send their children to school and invest into their communities. 

He graduated, went to a small liberal arts college,  and studied business and German where he continued his focus on fair trade. He started a Fair Trade club and worked to build fair trade awareness and action in classrooms and local cafes. His efforts and leadership have earned him global accolades. Fairtrade International named him one of the Top 10 biggest advocates in the world and #1 in the US, and Ben was invited to give a TED Talk on fair trade!

Soon after, Ben would take his impact to a new and sweeter level. While doing research in a business class, Ben learned that 2/3 of the world’s cacao is grown five degrees north of the equator in West African communities with extreme poverty and extensive child labor. Ben knew he had to do something and that feeling led him to create his start up: Five North Chocolate. He worked endlessly mixing cacao in kitchens and eventually came up with the perfect chocolate recipe. Soon he became the CEO of a company that commits itself to positively impacting cacao farmers worldwide. Today, Ben’s Five North Chocolate is sold in over 200 stores, became the first brand to ever feature the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce seal on a packaged good as well as a Seed of Change partner, meaning a tree is planted every time chocolate is ordered. In addition, Ben fills his chocolate with organic superfoods and nothing artificial. 

So, what can we learn from Ben? I believe Ben’s life is a perfect example that we all have a purpose. He was meant to learn about Fair Trade as a teenager and become a lifelong teacher to his peers and the world. Ben’s life experiences brought him to create such a sweet and world changing chocolate company that is helping farmers, bringing LGBT visibility, and planting trees. Just like Ben, you too, have a purpose. You are being prepared to make the change this world needs YOU to make. Listen for injustices and inequalities that make your heart hurt the most and your brain think the most. You may have been placed on this planet as the one who makes the world a better place for others. 

As this blog comes to an end, I want you all to remember- Ben was meant to advocate for Fair Trade worldwide, you were meant for something just as big. You are important to the bettering of this planet and the people on it. You got this!

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