Sustainable development has been the topic of discussion in all spheres across the world in recent times. Sustainable business is referred to the enterprise that has minimal or no negative influence on the local or global environment, society, community or economy. Sustainable businesses have progressive environmental and human rights policies. The last few years have witnessed the emergence of businesses that consider sustainability in their profit-making. One such organisation is the ‘Confections with Convictions’, located in Kalamazoo, Michigan, US. Confections with Convictions has a unique tradition of making delicious, wholesome and high quality confections for the past seven years, after its opening in the year 2010. The concept of this confectionery is incredible and different from the rest. It uses organically grown, locally sourced and fair trade ingredients whenever possible.
According to the founder of Confections with Convictions, Dale Anderson. “My company is all about reating a supportive atmosphere for those who need social support. After my plans to work with troubled kids in a building program came to a halt; I was looking at a box of artisanal chocolates and then came to my mind this idea of starting a chocolate business instead. Was not that a good idea?” Dale had worked as a counsellor, solving problems of young adults in the court system for many years. He realised that tak therapy was just not sufficient to overcome the diverse range of barriers these individuals face. He therefore wanted to develop an innovative and powerful way for helping those to become an integral member of the society. “The youths working for Confections with Convictions are kinaesthetic learners, implying that they learn as they do. The work assigned to them helps them to learn life skills.” Till date, more than thrity young lives have benefitted from the mentorship and guidance Dale has provided.
It has been long that the idea has up beautifully after its launch. The key point of this confectionary is that all the products are made with the help of those who have problems with the court system, means those who have ‘convictions’. According to Dale. “I never could think of helping a hundred children at a time. It is just about providing a caring and safe environment for those who need human care the most.” Dale points out that “treating employees, suppliers and customers in an honest and fair manner is very much essential”.
Confections with Convictions is known to treat its customers in a friendly and professional manner. In terms of employment, this organisation is known to follow all justified rules. Starting from the fair compensation of the employees to hiring individuals having barriers to regular employment, Confections with Convictions is doing just what is needed. The confectionary offers a huge variety of interesting truffles, bite and barks, including some vegan options. Some of the personal favourites of Dale are White chocolate truffles and Peruvian dark chocolate truffles. These come in different flavours, such as hazelnut, plum, lemon, honey lavender, ornage cardamom, ginger, bittersweet, peanut butter, maple cranberry amongst others. Confections with Convictions is famous for its handmade truffles crafted exclusively from organic and Fair Trade chocolate. Fair Trade Certification empowers farmers to lift themselves out of poverty by investing in the communities, protecting the environment, and developing the much-needed business skills compulsory for competing in the global marketplace. Fair Trade is much more than just a fair price. The principles include fair price, fair labour conditions, direct trade, transparent organisation, community development and environmental sustainability. Through Confections with Convictions, democratically organised farmers receive a guanranteed minimum floor price and an additional premium for organic products they provide. Farmers can also get pre-harvest credit. Farmers are happy to work here, as they get a safe working condition and freedome of association. Harmful agrochemicals are banned from being used in the farming prcoees undertaken. GMOs are also prohibited in this regard. Environmentally sustainbale farming process therefore take the centrestage.
Confections with Convictions knows that the environment is important for all of us. That is why it works with suppliers to make products out of recycled materials that are recyclable or compostable. Environmental friendly resources are considered for the packaging of the confectionaries sold. Dale states that that “ the bags we use are made from 40% recycled natural kraft paper. They are lined with EarthFirst, a compostbale film of Ingeo polymer. These polymer are made from renewable plants. Most of the chocolate boxes we use are recyclable. The Bite bags are made from compostable, clear cellophane.
While Dale is quite happy to be able to produce good quality chocolates, he is also satisfied in helping out the youth of his community. He states, “my biggest success story was about a turnaround of an employee who had dropped out of school and took shelter in the Gospel Mission. After getting employment in my organsition, the young lad has completed the GED requirements and his degree from the Kalamazoo Valley Community college. He wishes to become a director if a residential treatment facility for youth. I consider that quite an achievement for myself.” Dale had this idea at the back of his mind that young people who have been actively involved with the courts are to be given a second chance through tangible work opportunities. The primary focus Dale had was on helping young individuals confront systematic isssues.
After analysing the key concepts of Confections with Convictions, one can note that sustainability is given much attention while focusing on business aspects. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlines the different aspects of sustainability that one can consider for lifting up the economy and environment of the community. Goal 10 of this list, titled ‘Reduce inequality within and among countries’ emphasises the need to develop the community through the elimination of inequal justice and opportunities given to individuals of a certain group. Disparities are to be removed in access to employment and other basic needs of human beings. Organisations across the world must address the needs of the marginalised and disadvantaged population for encouraging sustainability. Confections with Convictions has achieved a milestone in this regard, helping out convicts while making business profits. The youths associated with the organisation develop a tenacity, resilience. They know that they have someone who cares for them and upholds them their fundamental rights. Dale proudly announces that “We provide an inimitable atmosphere where one individual can connect with another. Other companies are taking inspiration from us and building up their start-ups based on the values and believes we propagate.”
Working to make the community and business more peaceful, joyful, peaceful and secured, Confections with Convictions is a truely environmentally sustainable organisation. Dale envisons growing the company is a manner that places individuals over profits. He feels honoured to work with the ones he does. Together, they aim to create a community where each individual learns from the other. That builds skills, self-confidence, a sense of opportunity about the future.
As Dale continues to explain, “opportunities grow when sustainability is at the core of your business”. If more such businesses are starting growing in the world, it is not far from now that sustainability would be the cornerstone of all big and small companies across the globe. In future, Dales has the hope that his company would expand to cater to a broader market. Put in his own words, “If my company grows I would be able to hire more young talents and provide them with golden opportunities.” We all wish that his dream comes true soon.