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Tony’s Chocolonely was founded 13 years ago by journalist Teun van de Keuken. Teun was shocked to discover that much of the chocolate sold in supermarkets was made by people working in slave like conditions. When he tried to discuss the situation with chocolate makers, many declined to discuss the issue.

Teun van de Keuken, journalist and founder of Tony’s Chocolonely

Malpractices in the cacao industry drove me to set up Tony’s. Many plantations in Western Africa practice slavery and child labour even today. That’s what we want to help to prevent.
Teun van de Keuken, journalist and founder of Tony’s Chocolonely

 

Being a journalist, Teun had investigated the number of children working on cocoa farms and how many were working under illegal and dangerous conditions. This was what motivated him to create Tony’s. 

From the outset, it was clear that a mission to eradicate modern slavery from all chocolate production went way beyond measuring Tony’s direct impact.

 

Alone we make slave-free chocolate, together we make all chocolate 100% slave-free. One of the main things we’ve learnt along the way is how difficult it is to change an industry. After 11 years we’re not there yet. We’re actively seeking partners who apply our model.
Teun van de Keuken, journalist and founder of Tony’s Chocolonely

Tony’s strategy roadmap to achieve the goal of 100% slave-free chocolate consists of three pillars: 

Extract from Tony’s Chocolonely annual report 2018/2019

It is these three pillars that form the measurable impact of Tony’s Chocolonely. The company also follows the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) guidelines for sustainable reporting as well as the usual financial accounting metrics. he metrics relating to their roadmap are their clear indicators of impact and success. In their 2018/19 annual report, this meant 13 key metrics linked to the three pillars.

The newest of these metrics is linked to the third pillar and is all about the start of Tony’s Open Chain, an open source platform where chocolate companies can access the necessary knowledge and tools to improve their supply chain. 

On its own, a certification label does not enable farmers to live above the poverty line and provide a decent income for their families. The way we see it, chocolate makers are responsible for their chocolate supply chain – not the certification inspector.
Teun van de Keuken, journalist and founder of Tony’s Chocolonely

 

Tony’s Chocolonely

Critically, Tony’s recognises that it cannot do it all by itself and its business goal can only be achieved in collaboration with others. This it acknowledges in the way it reports its impact, highlighting the contribution of others.

In 2018/2019 Tony’s Chololonely expanded to 143 employees with a revenue of roughly 70 million euros. Over 53 million of this revenue came from the home market of the Netherlands, and the business is now looking into international expansion. Take a look at the latest annual report here to find out more about the size and complexity of the problem, about what is going well for the business and what still needs to be improved. 

 

  • This is an extract from the forthcoming ‘The Business of Wellbeing – Alternatives to Business as Usual’ Guide, launching in January 2020. For more extracts, please click here
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If we want to contribute to value creation, health, safety, ecosystem survival and human wellbeing, it is important to include them as metrics in our balance sheet.

Martin Rich, FutureFit

The more you outsource externalities, the better you do financially in today’s system. If companies outsource all harm you never have to account / pay for it.” 
Martin Rich, Co-Founder and Executive Director at Future Fit

We need to consider our own operations and also the full supply chain and product life cycle. Only this way can we measure performance indicators in a similar way to financial performance. However, can we ever compare the value of a tree to the value of a mother in monetary terms?

James Vaccaro, Special Advisor to Triodos Bank

People want to measure everything but it is not always healthy. You can hit the target but miss the point.” 
James Vaccaro, Special Advisor at Triodos Bank

 

Rather than blindly tracking our performance towards a framework like the Sustainable Development Goals, we need a clear idea of the future scenario we want to create as part of our business purpose, a plan on the business’ contribution to this scenario and clear performance indicators on how to get there. 

We need a clear understanding of a desired future scenario that is easy to communicate. This provides us with a shared starting point so we can effectively work together on the desirable change. Frameworks like the Natural Step can help us develop such scenarios. 

Natural Step Framework

 

We then need a bold set of processes, tools and practices that help us facilitate action and a clear set of performance indicators that we can measure success on.

There is always the temptation to take off the shelf (ready-made) indicator sets, both for ease as well as comparison with other organisations. However, we would suggest first asking yourself the question: Do these indicators accurately reflect the change that your business wants to achieve?

Much time and energy is wasted collecting lots of data for tick box activities as opposed to measuring whether the change (those activities were designed to achieve) has actually happened. 

It is not the amount of training provided but what people do with that training that matters. Measuring impact should not be different from measuring key performance indicators (KPIs). A forward-looking set of KPIs should instead be the impact you want to achieve. 

In recent years, alternative return on investment methodologies have emerged to assist businesses in bringing their social and environmental impact into the balance sheet. These can be useful, but only if their limitations (valuing nature, dubious discount rates) are recognised and the data is fed back in a format that enables people to take action. Measuring for measurement’s sake is just not worth it.

Often t the story of how the impact is achieved (rather than the return on investment calculations of the impact) is the most useful information an organisation takes away from such an exercise. 

We can only operate at environmental and social loss for so long, otherwise we will go bankrupt.” 
Martin Rich, Co-Founder and Executive Director at Future Fit

Ultimately business needs to find ways to design wellbeing into their economic system and incentivise those actions that have the potential to substantially contribute to positive impact.