Episode 6: Joe Whinney |
Joe Whinney, the Founder and former CEO of Theo Chocolate (North America’s first organic and fair-trade chocolate maker), joins this episode to share his story and how his passion for building ethical business began. A sailboat journey through Central America after dropping out of high school led him to volunteering in southern Belize, where he focused on preserving unique species from the rainforest. During this project he met Mayan cocoa farmers, learned the importance of protecting ancient Mayan traditional agricultural practices, and saw firsthand that social and environmental degradation were economic issues. Joe acted on his belief that there was – and still is - no good reason that farmers and their families should suffer to grow ingredients used to make chocolate or any other products. “We have to recognize that there are other stakeholders, not just shareholders,” Joe says. He then cultivated the first organic cocoa supply chain in 1994 and eventually launched Theo in 2005. Joe also talks about his current work with Dr. Bronner’s, the importance of psychedelics in his life, and more.
In building Theo from the ground up, Joe successfully executed on his vision to build a premium chocolate company that has a substantial positive impact on the lives of cocoa farmers, suppliers, employees, and chocolate lovers worldwide. At the time of Joe’s departure from the company, Theo was the number one selling organic chocolate brand in North America, reaching millions of consumers through thousands of major retailers.
Joe is an active board member and advisor to many organizations working to make the world a better place. In addition to his advisory and board roles, Joe is working with a dedicated team of medical professionals, entrepreneurs, and business executives to build North America’s first clinical research center dedicated to the study of psychedelic-assisted therapy. The for-profit enterprise, Red Alder, is structured as a Steward-Ownership business with a Perpetual Purpose Trust in control of governance to ensure that Red Alder’s mission and values are not compromised by the profit motive.