This Finnish Entrepreneur And Chocolatier Wants Food Businesses To Be Accountable For Public Health

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Jukka Peltola worked in the gaming industry before launching a food brand. He was busy developing games at Rovio, the powerhouse that created Angry Birds. He had no experience in food nor a co-founder who was steeped in the food business. But he decided to switch gears, leaving behind his gaming days for a chocolate factory. Why such a dramatic career shift?

More companies need to focus on trust and quality ingredients that are good for consumers, not just bottom line economics, he says. Health, not disease is the premise of Goodio, which produces health-conscious snacks and treats, namely raw chocolate bars.

“I was looking at food labels and had a question: “What if there was a food brand you could trust?” he recalls in an phone interview from his Helsinki offices. “It felt a bit crazy, at least for the people around me, since I don’t have an entrepreneurship background in the food business.  But personally I didn’t care, I just had a passion and I thought it might be my advantage to see things outside the box to make the change I felt was so important.”

In 2011, he began tinkering with chocolate. “I rarely ate chocolate because I was interested in sports and keeping fit. I thought it wasn’t good for you. Turns out it can be.” 

As a health food enthusiast, Peltola researched the benefits of cacao — an ingredient that is often overlooked as being gluttonous, not nutritious. Though chocolate sales fetched $98 billion in 2015, they were primarily for the sugary candy type.

Read the full story at Forbes.com.

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Why Two Norwegian Entrepreneurs Put $1.5 Million Towards Slow Travel In Fjord Country

 

Set in Norway’s majestic fjord country, Flam is a town about 230 inhabitants. Yet in one year it will see about half a million visitors and nearly 200 cruise ships — ships so big they drown out the few small hotels situated on the waterfront. At the base of a UNESCO World Heritage site, Flam and its nearby residents are concerned about the number of tourists descending on the small, picturesque village.

Last year, Fjord Norway, the tourism office for the region, told the Telegraph that they were encouraging hotels to increase rates in the summer months, hoping that would push tourists to come in the off season.  What’s causing the increased interest?  Namely two factors: Disney’s animated film Frozen, which showcased Norway’s beauty and culture, and social media, particularly Instagram, where pictures of the stunning scenery are drawing thousands of ‘likes.’

Two Norwegians, however, have taken it upon themselves to offer tourists a different kind of experience in the fjords — one that builds on Norway’s love for slow TV, slow food, and all things Sakte (Norwegian for slow).  But will the rest of the world catch on as well?

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“We want to be a sustainable alternative to cruise tourism,” Tone Ronning says. “It’s a contradiction. Once you become a World Heritage site, you get more crowds, and it becomes a lost paradise. We don’t want that to happen here.”

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Read the full story at Forbes.com

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YouTuber Niomi Smart Builds An Online Career And A Startup On Wellness and Conscious Living

This YouTuber has amassed 1.6 million subscribers by building a lifestyle that’s balanced, empathetic, and wellness-driven. On a platform that sells quantity over quality, Niomi Smart’s unique brand is as much about giving back as it is about herself.

This month, she released her first book, Eat Smart, a guide to eating well and being fit. Within minutes of the announcement, the book climbed the ranks, becoming #1 on Amazon. (Though it’s only available in the UK and select countries currently).

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Photo Courtesy of Harper Collins UK.

The 24-year-old Brighton-born author tests natural beauty products, shares healthful recipes, runs for charity, and endorses causes on her YouTube channel.  Her most recent video highlighted StandUp Cancer, a UK-based charity, working on cancer research and prevention.  More than just a photo op, Smart’s involvement is seemingly genuine and stems from life experience.  When a friend passed away from skin cancer, Smart was shocked and saddened; she transformed her routine, plunging into a plant-based lifestyle and putting her health first after a few indulgent years at university, snacking on cakes and biscuits.
Read the full story at Forbes.com.

The Naked Truth Behind Denim: How One Swedish Brand Is Cleaning Up Its Supply Chain

This Swedish company is showing that ethical supply chains and commercial viability can go hand in hand even in the fast-paced fashion world. Nudie Jeans, the Gothenburg-based brand, is basically the Patagonia of jeans.

Though the company now sells t-shirts, jackets, and other apparel, they started with jeans. That is organic cotton types of denim, which come in dry, salvaged, and washed varieties in unisex designs. However, the brand has evolved in the last 10 years from just manufacturing jeans to one that rallies for fair labor practices, organic farming, and toxic-free dyes.

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While in the last three years a new crop of fashion brands have been talking about restructuring supply chains in textiles, Nudie Jeans began venturing down this path in 2006 — a decade ago, when the company shifted to using only organic materials. At that point, Nudie was only 20 percent organic. The founder Maria Erixon invited their suppliers to a meeting in Gothenburg where they broke the news: they were going in a different direction. Even though they lost some of their suppliers who didn’t want to adopt the organic cotton practices, Nudie continued. Four years ago, the company announced that they had become 100 percent organic.

When asked if fashion brands can be mindful and profitable, CEO Palle Stenberg says confidently, “Yes, of course, everybody can.”

Read the full story at Forbes.com.

How Two Entrepreneurs Turn Waste Into A Business

Forty-five minutes outside of Coimbatore, India, a Finnish company is producing a new kind of factory which will turn trash into a fashion business. 

Jukka Pesola and Anders Bengs run Pure Waste Textiles. Their business model is simple: take leftover fabric and turn it into a new, usable piece of clothing. However, the clothes don’t scream recycled.  The tees, sweaters, and pants they produce out of excess or waste textiles are fashionable and well cut staples.

This year, they’re opening a new unit in Tamil Nadu.  The facility houses a production unit where fabrics are opened, carded, spun again and woven into new knits.  By the end of the year, the palm-lined land will include their flagship recycling unit, already operational CMT manufacturing unit, and facilities for staff.  Once fully operational, the plant will fill 200 jobs — employment that Bengs says could be beneficial to a poor local population. The unit will be fueled by renewable energy, such as wind and solar power.

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Read the full story at Forbes.com.

Why The Nordics Are The Best Place To Run A Business And Live

Is Denmark the best place to start and run a business?  A new book argues yes:

“When the World Bank ranks countries on ease of doing business, based on criteria such as starting a company, dealing with construction permits, getting credit, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, or paying taxes, the Nordic countries consistently rank among the most business-friendly nations in the world.  In fact, on those criteria, American entrepreneurs would be better off in Denmark, which scored higher than the US in the 2015 ranking.”

Finnish journalist Anu Partanen is the author of the newly released, “The Nordic Theory of Everything – In Search Of A Better Life,” which compares life in Nordic nations (Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway) to the US.  Love brought Partanen to the United States 8 years ago.  As s a freelance journalist in the States, Partanen is self-employed.  “I know the American tax code well now and it’s not easy to navigate,” she jokes.

Her book is an effort to get Americans to consider an alternative model, particularly for business and work-life balance:  “For many people, it seems to be an either-or debate of capitalism versus socialism.  But I want readers to see that Nordic life does celebrate the individual, and encourage money-making. It’s also a capitalistic system, centered around innovation,” she says, as she drives across the Northwest, from Portland to Seattle promoting the book.

Before she sets off driving, I ask her a few questions about the nuances of running a business in the Nordics and why we should look northward for social innovation.

Read the full story at Forbes.com

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New Charity Invites Female Millionaires To Donate — And Get Involved

There’s a lot of talk about helping the girls and women of the developing world, but there’s not a lot of money to back it up.

According to a 2014 report from the United Nations Population Fund, “less than two cents [of] every international development dollar is spent on an adolescent girl.”

The Maverick Collective hopes to change that breakdown. It’s a philanthropic organization that was publicly launched this week at the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen. Its 14 members, all women, have each contributed at least $1 million to fund a specific project in the developing world that tackles a women’s health issue: domestic violence, maternal health, cervical cancer. The goal is to come up with projects that get good results, then build them up to a bigger scale.

And it’s not just about writing a check. Each donor is involved with the project she is sponsoring. The women have traveled to the countries where the project is going on and are tracking its progress.

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The group’s CEO is Kate Roberts, who was a top advertising executive before becoming senior vice president of the nonprofit PSI — Population Services International. The co-chairs are Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, who is also the co-founder, and Melinda Gates. (As our readers may know, the Gates Foundation is a funder of NPR.)

We spoke with Roberts in Copenhagen to learn more about this new organization. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Read the full story on NPR.