In 2013 the not-for-profit think tank Medinge Group held a session in its home in rural Sweden. The group which started in 2000 was in the process of revitalizing itself. “Nicholas Ind spoke about ‘Building Brands Together’ and argued that brands will more and more develop in co-creative spaces. Nicholas was interested in how participation emerges, and wanted to learn more about what makes people feel closer or more engaged.
Philippe Mihailovich and Caroline Taylor, who work mostly out of Paris but have links to South Africa, went one step further and challenged the members: “Are you advisors, observers or doers? If we know all about brands, why are we not creating our own ‘brands with a conscience’?” Philippe and Caroline proceeded to show how this could be done with little investment by developing strong concepts and using the power of large retailers and contract manufacturers.
Almost three years later and a few weeks before the launch of the Medinge book, “Brands with a Conscience”, the Financial Mail in South Africa ran a story entitled, “Branding for a cause: French chocolates come to SA”. It reads as follows:
One of France’s favourite chocolate brands will be coming to SA as part of a fundraising initiative to provide a sustainable income for Mam Khanyi’s Home of Hope in Johannesburg.
French chocolatiers traditionally sold these chocolates only within their own borders. However, the efforts of Rasada Goldblatt, Home of Hope representative, and French South Africans Philippe Mihailovich and Caroline Taylor has ensured that the chocolates, which they call bouchées (meaning “mouthfuls”) will be sold in SA for the first time – and all for a good cause.
“As part of a fundraising effort, SA will be the first country outside France to have the chance to savour these delights, under the brand name Cadeau – Happy Chocs,” the brand says in a statement.
“Cadeau” means gift, and the proceeds from the limited edition launch are aimed at assisting the children housed at the Home of Hope in a number of ways.
The chocolates come from France’s only “bean-to-bar” or “plantation-to-production” chocolate maker, which uses cocoa from Côte d’Ivoire. “Bean-to-bar” chocolate is gaining in popularity worldwide as the whole process – from the grinding of the bean to the moulding of the bar – happens in one location under the watch of one group of chocolatiers.
Home of Hope was started by Khanyisile Motsa, more commonly referred to as Mam Khanyi, as a way of providing for the sustained physical, educational and holistic wellbeing of trafficked, orphaned, sexually exploited and vulnerable girls in Berea and Hillbrow, as well as solace for all vulnerable children in the surrounding community.
By providing the right tools and guidance, the organisation helps these children not only to take control of their lives, but to thrive. Its long-term aim is to assist in getting them reintegrated into society by offering a range of rehabilitation programmes that are holistic, sustainable and built on the pillars of mercy, compassion and service. Home of Hope also provides on-site and on-street feeding schemes, develops permaculture gardens, offers education and early intervention around HIV/Aids and cares for the elderly and the homeless.
With a leading SA retailer adding its support to the initiative, Cadeau – Happy Chocs will be available in selected supermarkets across the country after Easter.
The big take-out: French chocolates, to be branded under the name Cadeau – Happy Chocs, will be sold for the first time outside of France as part of a fundraising initiative to assist Mam Khanyi’s Home of Hope in Johannesburg.
It was hardly an easy task convincing France’s most powerful chocolatier to come on board but support from Africa’s largest retail group Shoprite-Checkers enabled the concept to come to life. With one opening order, the Home of Hope has achieved their annual fund-raising target. Perhaps there is hope for other NGOs if only manufacturers could be encouraged to create their own brands with a purpose beyond pure profit. Cadeau – Happy Chocs gives Medinge a new form of legitimacy.
Philippe and Caroline are still hoping that other members will find their own ways to ‘walk the talk’ and to further the idea of building brands together.