Timothy Moley President, CEO
It is probably not easy to imagine the life of a chocolate company owner, but mine might be a little harder to imagine. Of course to tell the whole story would be too long, so I will cover the points that have some bearing on the subject of ethics and sustainability
I was born in North Carolina in 1960. As a child I am sure I asked “why” a lot, starting at an early age and never really growing out of it. More to the point, I witnessed and lived the social and economic scene of North Carolina and it was very puzzling to me and I asked why. Add to that the political scene which was on television and radio and I was observing a lot and taking it all in. The questions of justice and fairness, how people treat others, and why, were all clearly etched in my mind and psyche from that time.
I grew up in a family of seven. We were of Irish ancestry and from the north, and it was not long before we moved northward and west to the midwest: Iowa. I was raised in classic Americana of hard work and homework. The work ethic was part of home life where we had a wall chart and calendar of who did what chores and when. I did a fair amount of my chores in the kitchen. It was not uncommon for children to help run a household and indeed my friends who lived on nearby farms worked harder, longer, and at tasks more difficult than we had at our home. Children working their chores was a given and indeed, I was proud to be old enough to mow the lawn beginning at age 10.
I grew up in a farming state in a farming community. The challenges of making a living by investing hard work into land with variable weather, unknown harvest date and amount, and market price uncertainty for the crop were all a way of life. You could tell who kept their farm and their equipment in good shape and how that affected their income. Corn and soybean futures were broadcast on the radio hourly along with livestock prices and covered in detail in the news nightly. The experience of hard work and uncertain future became second nature and part of the fabric of life.
Even before I was 14, I was working 40 hours a week and going to high school to help buy my clothes, food, and car. I was happy to be out of high school and only proceeded with some higher education after working for a few years. I worked days and went to college at nights. My studies were initially botany, chemistry, and international trade. I worked for a spice company and then, just like now, I had a gift for tasting and flavors. I was responsible for quality control and regulatory affairs.
While working for the spice company and then later at a tea company, I took my vacations and sabbaticals working abroad in developing countries, helping farmers improve their spice crops, their post-harvest handling, and in general, giving them the help they needed to increase their understanding of how to get more farm gate revenue from the same land. I did this work with an organization called ACDI/VOCA. I did nine projects with them, some lasting 4 months. I learned over the years how things really were in developing countries, farmer coops, and crop markets, and why they were that way.
ACDI/VOCA is still around today and still sending Americans abroad. You can find their website at: www.acdivoca.org. Please take the time to have a look at their mission values and story. Before starting work with them and while working on projects over the years, I took the time to study aid, development, and in general, how to help people in different cultures in a lasting and appropriate way. I took a few college-level courses and studied all I could. I would often engage other in-country staff in conversation about development and the history of their work in-country, what worked, what didn’t, and why.
My perspective on how people treat each other, how the way a farmer works their farm directly affects their income, how market conditions and weather also play a role in farm gate prices, and why children work and what kind of work they do, are not just concepts or viewpoints, but are very real experiences for me seen day in, day out, time and time again, over many years.
I can see several formative moments and roles in my past that prepared me well for the perspectives, experiences, and knowledge, and have helped me ask better questions. Over the years the “why” questions: why people treat each other the way they do and why things are the way they are, have been largely answered. I am now only recently in a position to be able to move on to “how” and “when” questions. The how of helping people is a question that will need continual asking and answering. Then when is half answered: the time to press forward is now.
We at Chocolove endeavor to better our program to see that all people who work in the supply chain of Chocolove are ethically treated, properly compensated, have opportunity to advance in life, and have the opportunity for the pursuit of happiness.