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Thoughts from author: dan

innocent and investment

You may have seen in today's papers or on the telly that Coca-Cola have taken a minority stake in innocent. There’s a letter from the founders explaining the nature of the deal on the front page of our website (we put it there yesterday as lots more people visit our site than the blog – if you’ve time it may be worth checking it out)

The background to this deal is that we’re ten years into a thirty year journey towards what we want innocent to become. Our vision is for innocent to grow into a global, natural, healthy food and drinks company – one that makes stuff which is good for people, uses ‘lighter footprint’ ingredients, packaging and production techniques, and which supports charities in the countries where our fruit comes from. In terms of our international expansion, it’s a big goal, and to get there we're going to need a bit of help.

That's where the deal with Coke comes in. They've invested £30M for a stake of between 10% and 20%. We spoke to plenty of potential investors before we made a decision (over fifteen), and you'd be surprised how many wanted to tell us what to do and to run innocent themselves, rather than allowing us to carry on doing what we do.

And that's why we chose Coke – because of all the people we spoke to, they were the ones who guaranteed a hands-off approach; an approach that means that we continue to run innocent our way. We will continue to make the decisions, just as we always have done. Adam, Jon and Richard, the three founders, will continue to lead the business. Coke have placed no restrictions on what we can and cannot do. But we can ask for their advice and help from time to time, which we think will be useful. They may even at some point be able to help distribute our products, but it’s early days so we’ll have to see.

The investment means we now have the funds to do what we’re here to do; get more healthy stuff to more people and places across Europe and beyond. And, let’s face it, times are pretty hard economically speaking, and this investment gives us the added stability to weather the tough headwinds most businesses are facing.

If you've ever started your own business, you'll be able to appreciate that innocent is much more to us than the place where we work. And we know people will believe us when we say that we thought more about this decision than any other in our history. We know some people will always disagree and we will respect that, but we know this deal is a great opportunity for innocent and will allow us to do what we’re here to do – get more healthy products to more people.

We know you have thoughts and comments so feel free to post them. But please keep all comments clean and free of abuse – this is a family show i.e. kids read this blog too.

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A short note - there have been lots of comments on this post, but the navigation to see subsequent pages of comments is a little hidden, due to the standard blog design. You'll find a small set of double arrows like this '>>' at the bottom of the page, above the "Post a comment' box. Click it to see subsequent comments.

fruit towers today

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This is up on a few walls. Don't know what it means.

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This is up above the toaster. I know what it means.

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This is the legendary Pritt Stick. It's been stuck on the ceiling for about 4 years. A man called Shrimp threw it up there after he had drunk some beer.

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And this is a painting by a good man called Ben Harris. It depicts a talking duck wearing a trilby.

reality check

JT in Kenya

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Doug and I go for a jog most evenings. I say jog, it is a quick walk in places; I blame the heat and the altitude. As we get out of our gate Kennedy, the neighbour’s son is ready and waiting in his sports kit, good to go. We turn up the hill and start running, Kennedy always the pace setter. Doug has a regular circuit which starts with a lung busting climb and thankfully levels off to be a steady downhill back to the start. We did two laps tonight before both of us couldn’t face anymore; Kennedy could have run all day. Being a mzungu (white person) and running in garish sports equipment we stick out like a sore thumb. The local kids are high-fiving us all the way round and some chase after us chuckling to themselves, which is great. They make the effort worthwhile.

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We end our jog by running on top of a dam that is just on the outside of Kola. Usually it is just Doug and I cooling down but today there were hundreds of people sitting there. After a few minutes a cheer went up and a truck pulled up. The truck was there to distribute bags of maize. The people had been waiting since 08:00 in the morning for emergency food relief.

Most households near Kola are subsistence farmers with a small plot of land to feed their family. October through to December is traditionally the rainy season, however last year there wasn’t enough rain to sustain their crops so they failed, and now the country is heading into famine. We saw Kennedy’s dad queuing up for the maize.

By JT

the lion sleeps tonight

JT in Kenya

In a round:- Wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh...

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An Elephant

Ok so I wasn’t in a jungle but any excuse to get that song in (pop anorak alert, check out the REM cover of it).

Well it’s not all work work work you know. On my weekend I decided that I should head out to one of the national parks to see some wildlife. So off I ventured 3 hours south of Kola to Tsavo, there are two national parks in the area Tsavo West and East. I headed to the West as it was more accessible for me.

I thought that because I had seen nature programmes then I had seen all the animals before, but it’s not until you see them in the flesh that you really appreciate how fantastic, ridiculous and amazing they really are. Within 5 minutes of being in the park we drove by a giraffe, how do those spindly legs manage to keep it upright, I don’t know? Ostriches were another funny one, they are massive. The best sight of all was in the evening I sat down for dinner and was trying to choose my meal and looked out to the watering hole to see a herd of elephants having a bit of drink. After a few minutes they just wandered off in single file out into the bush. Beautiful.

A gruesome little tale is that the lions at Tsavo are famous for being the most aggressive. This was proven in the 19th century when 140 railway workers were killed in a single year by two man-eaters. The man who trapped them and killed them was Colonel JH Patterson, if you want to find out more he wrote a book called The Man-Eaters of Tsavo.

I was disappointed not to see a lion but then again maybe it was for the best, wimoweh, wimoweh...

0902 JT Giraffe

Penguin.