We partner with organizations that share our commitment and passion for social and environmental responsibility. We look for partners that can help us have a bigger impact, touch more lives and celebrate the connections between each and every one of us. Read on to learn more about the organizations Theo is proud to partner with.
We’re proud to partner with Ben Affleck and the Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI) to launch a delicious chocolate bar series that’s helping Congolese farmers cultivate a brighter future. Theo ECI bars are available nationwide at stores including Whole Foods and in our web shop. A portion of proceeds are donated to ECI, with the potential to positively impact more than 20,000 people living in Eastern Congo.
Theo ECI bars are made of 100% Congolese cocoa in two distinctly different flavors: Vanilla Nib, a scrumptious mix of cocoa, creamy vanilla, and crunchy cocoa nibs, and award-winning Coffee & Cream, a delicious blend of our milk chocolate and Congolese coffee from Caffe Vita.
In keeping with our high sourcing standards, the cocoa, coffee, and vanilla used in our Congo selections are Organic, Fair Trade certified, and grown in the region by farmers who care about quality and sustainability. Which means you’ll not only taste the difference, you’ll help make a difference for generations to come.
Why Congo, Why Cocoa, Why Now?
Theo and ECI believe real, enduring change often comes from public-private partnerships. We’re able to develop solutions that will improve lives in Eastern Congo through our joint expertise: ECI has a history of working with the Congolese people to create economic opportunities that serve as a foundation for stability and success, and Theo has extensive experience building sustainable, fair trade supply chains around the globe.
“We have a transparent supply chain which allows us to increase the perceived value of cocoa among the farmer groups with whom we work. At the heart of many social and environmental problems are business issues. It’s all based on quality. We provide the technical information and market awareness farmers need so that they can increase quality and charge more for their product.”
– Joe Whinney, founder of Theo Chocolate
By the end of 2015, Theo will have purchased 1,600 tons of cocoa from the small-holder farmers ECI supports. These landmark purchases positively impact over 20,000 people living in the region, increasing household incomes and improving access to vital services. Today Congolese cocoa represents over half of Theo’s total cocoa supply and can be found in every single chocolate product that we make.
While the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is rich in natural and human resources, it has the lowest per-capita gross domestic product in the world. Violence, poverty, and disease in the DRC have claimed the lives of over 5 million men, women, and children. And despite democratic elections and multiple peace agreements, the eastern region is still impacted by conflict, which has significantly diminished the availability of reliable, income-generating employment, as well as education and health care.
Theo and ECI recognized an opportunity to help the region emerge from crisis by joining forces with local farmers to cultivate cocoa. This fast-growing, high-yield crop requires minimal re-planting, prevents deforestation, commands solid global prices, and is a major source of income for women. Cocoa is also considered “militia-proof” because its true value isn’t realized until it’s processed.
One of the important ways Theo is helping Congolese cocoa farmers improve the quality of their crops is by working with Green House – an ECI grantee – to develop and provide training programs.
“The farmers are ready for change and open to learning. Especially when we can show the farmers what happens as a result of these changes. The biggest obstacle we have had to overcome is fear of change.”
– Dhena Bassara, Director, Green House
To learn more about ECI and grantees like Green House that support economic and social development opportunities in the DRC, visit easterncongo.org.
“We are partnering with World Bicycle Relief to advance our mutual efforts to create economic and educational opportunities in African communities. WBR’s programs align beautifully with Theo’s own in that they emphasize cultivation and support of sustainable livelihoods for people. At Theo, we believe this is the most impactful way to effect positive, long-term change.”
— Joe Whinney, Theo CEO and founder
We’ve partnered with World Bicycle Relief to create a bar that helps transform individuals and communities through the power of bicycles. The bar features our award-winning 70% dark chocolate and a pinch of sea salt. Proceeds from the sale of each bar help provide students, health care workers, and entrepreneurs in rural Africa with specially designed, locally assembled WBR bicycles. Since the launch of our WBR bar, donations have translated to nearly 400 bikes given to students in need!
With over 125,000 bicycles in the field and more than 800 field mechanics trained, WBR is changing lives across Africa. Compared to walking, bicycles improve access to education, healthcare and economic opportunity by increasing carrying capacity and accessible travel distance while decreasing the time it takes to commute to and from schools, clinics and markets.
Imagine if as a child, in addition to the average school day, you had to walk 12 kilometers to and from school—over five hours round trip—while also waking up early enough to perform family chores. That’s a possible 14-hour day for child, not including time for meals, homework and play.
WBR’s Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program (BEEP) makes it possible for students (primarily girls due to their unique challenges accessing education) to complete their education and build a better life for themselves, their families, and their communities in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
By using bicycles to cut their commute times, students increase their capacity to learn. Since BEEP’s launch, school attendance is up 25% and test scores are up close to 40%. For the past two years, Theo has partnered with WBR to provide bicycles for the Chipapa Primary School in Kafue, Zambia, where the average student commutes 10 kilometers each day. To learn more about WBR and the students of Chipapa Primary School, visit the WBR blog here.
To a child in rural Africa, a bicycle provides a safe and reliabel way to get to school, faster completion of household duties, and a huge decrease in commuting time. More time leads to an increase in student attendance, improved child safety, more girls in school, improved test scores, a reduction in early pregnancies and marriages for young girls, and increased possibilities for future livelihoods.