Although corporate social responsibility is becoming more important to businesses of every size, it’s not often that an SME makes the scale of commitment that has been made by office fruit supplier Fruitful Office. The UK-based firm, which supplies fruit to offices in five countries, has pledged that every time a customer buys one of its fruit baskets, it will plant a fruit tree in Africa. So, customers of Fruitful Office are not just keeping their teams healthy, they’re also ensuring communities in Africa benefit too.
Fruitful Office made its pledge to plant one fruit tree in Malawi for every basket of fruit it sold back in 2015. Since then, the business has grown from a fledgling business into an international company with thousands of clients in a number of countries across Europe. In the first three months of the campaign alone, from July to September 2015, the company was able to plant more than 100,000 trees in Malawi. It has since gone on to plant millions of trees that are helping to create jobs and provide fruit and firewood for local Malawian families.
How does it work?
The campaign is run in association with Ripple Africa, a UK charity working in Malawi that oversees the scheme. The main focus to date has been planting guava and papaya trees, fast-growing trees that take only 3-5 years to grow and produce an abundance of fruit. Senna trees have also been grown to create a supply of firewood for the local people. All of those trees are very easy to maintain, which makes them ideally suited to the Malawian climate and soil conditions.
The trees are grown from seedlings by local schools, households, communities and farms. Larger farm cooperatives in the area also each grow between 20,000-30,000 seedlings in their nurseries each year. Local people are given training, seeds, tubes and any other equipment they need to grow the seedlings. In the rainy season, the seedlings are then planted in woodlots, household perimeters and orchards, with local residents receiving advice about how to provide ongoing care for the trees.
As well as giving local people an abundant and free source of fruit and firewood, the produce is also being used as a source of income generation, helping to create jobs and give communities a resource they can sell at local markets.
Spreading the reach
Given the success of the tree planting campaign, Fruitful Office decided to take it a step further by replanting the deforested region of Mzuzu in Malawi. Working closely with local government forestry staff, Fruitful Office has already planted more than 2.5 million trees, with another 2 million trees set to be planted in the Choma region. Local farmers are already enjoying the fruits of their labours and are encouraging others in their communities to get involved.
Central to the Fruitful Office commitment is to bring the benefits of fresh fruit to everyone. A crucial part of that is engaging their customers and making them aware of the difference they are making to communities thousands of miles away.