Cadbury Exec Volunteers In Ghana
December 1, 2006
Cadbury Exec Volunteers In Ghana
For two weeks this fall, Dave Fleischer, director of trade development for the U.S. confectionery unit of Cadbury Schweppes, spent his days counting cocoa pods in Ghana, collecting leaves for experts to analyze, slogging through mud, and pulling himself up steep inclines by grasping for tree roots. At night he slept on a cot under mosquito netting in a building without electricity or running water.
He loved it!
In fact, Fleischer had to apply for a limited number of spots with many other employees of parent company Cadbury Schweppes for the privilege of making the trip, which took him to the village of Adjeikrom in Eastern Ghana. There he worked as a volunteer on research projects designed to measure the impact of new cocoa farming methods.
It was part of Cadbury Schweppes’ Earthshare program in which the company is partnering with the Earthwatch Institute (Europe) and the Ghana Nature Conservation Research Centre (NCRC) for a three-year venture. In the program, farmers are encouraged to grow cocoa in a more ecologically balanced environment that provides a diversified habitat for birds and other wildlife, and, at the same time, increases cocoa yield and boosts farmers’ long-term financial stability.
The experience was eye-opening in so many ways, Fleischer reports. “I really felt while I was there that I was making a difference,” he says.
In addition to supporting the cocoa farming biodiversity project, Fleischer’s visit to Ghana provided a unique opportunity to experience nature. For example, at one point, he recalls, “I was on a mountainside that had 850 butterfly species. I didn’t know that there were that many kinds of butterflies in the world.”
To prepare for the frequently strenuous activities the trip involved, Fleischer spent some time this summer hiking the Appalachian Trail with a 45-pound pack on his back. He was the oldest among his group of 20 Cadbury Schweppes volunteers who participated this year, drawn from the company’s operations around the globe. “I was not going to let the younger people leave me behind,” says Fleischer.
Fleischer says he is proud to work for a company with a strong commitment to social and environmental issues. Cadbury Schweppes has nearly a 100-year history in Ghana. It extends back to 1908, when the Cadbury brothers helped to set up the cocoa farming industry in Ghana, which was then a British colony.
In the weeks following his return to the United States on October 30, Fleischer has enjoyed sharing his experiences with a number of customers. At Cadbury Adams’ U.S. office, Fleischer is an active member of the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee.
“It’s the real deal,” says Fleischer, describing Cadbury Schweppes’ corporate commitment.
The same might be said of him.
Cadbury’s Corporate Citizenship
The Ghana biodiversity project that Cadbury Adams’ Dave Fleischer participated in is not an isolated example of corporate social responsibility for Cadbury Schweppes.
The company not only funds a variety of cocoa farming initiatives, but is engaged in managing them as well, says David Croft, Director of Conformance and Sustainability, Cadbury Schweppes.
“We’re increasingly looking at how we work with small farmers, such as those in cocoa, and are engaging in a number of activities that aim to better support those farmers’ needs, and, in doing so, [support] the supply of good quality cocoa.”
A company-funded well-building program in Ghana has provided nearly 400 water wells for cocoa farming communities, and Cadbury Schweppes provides funding for the World Cocoa Foundation’s Sustainable Tree Crop Program and the International Cocoa Initiative.